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Battleby

Perth And Kinross

Summary

Dates

  • Date of Inclusion: 1987

Reason for Inclusion

An early 19th century designed landscape of park and woodland containing a valuable 20th-century plant collection.

Type of Site

Structured policies, evident today, including a formal garden, parkland, woodland and walks were well established by 1865, embellished by further structural tree planting c.1862. The plant collection, gathered and established between 1947 and 1963 includes outstanding specimen tree, ornamental tree and shrub collections.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Pre-mid-19th century, with additional tree planting 1865 - 1901and an ornamental plant collection established between 1947 and 1963.

Designations

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Map of BATTLEBY

Importance of Site

A site included in the Inventory is assessed for its condition and integrity and for its level of importance. The criteria used are set out in Annex 5 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (December 2011). The principles are represented by the following value-based criteria and we have assigned a value for each on a scale ranging from outstanding value to no value. Criteria not applicable to a particular site have been omitted. All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance.

Work of Art

High

Battleby has high value as a Work of Art in its present form.

Historical

Little

Battleby has a little Historical value based on the evidence which exists from the time of the Lyndoch lairds until the present day.

Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural

High

The plant collection had high Horticultural value in the surveys made in the early 1970s. A further, more extensive survey made when plants are in flower could assess the current value of the collection.

Architectural

High

Battleby has high Architectural value as it provides the setting for a category B listed building. Battleby Centre is also of interest, having received the RIBA award for Scotland in 1974 and a European Architectural Heritage Award in 1975.

Scenic

High

Battleby has high Scenic value within the surrounding landscape.

Nature Conservation

Some

The Battleby woodlands have some value for Nature Conservation and certain areas of the woodlands are being managed to encourage the re- establishment of ground flora.

Location and Setting

Battleby is situated some 4 miles (6.5km) north of the centre of Perth, and approximately 0.5 miles (0.8km) west of the A9(T) between Perth and Inverness. The B8063 leads to the main entrance and runs east/west through the south of the property. The site rises about 50' from the 125' contour on the gently rolling ridge that runs east towards the Tay between the River Almond and the Shochie Burn. The underlying rocks are of the Lower Old Red Sandstone series. The soil is a brown forest type which is fairly free draining. The surrounding landscape is largely in agricultural use with some forestry which has been the subject of change in recent years with the removal of field boundaries, hedgerow trees and woodland strips. Views north to the hills between Perth and Aberfeldy can be gained from the northern boundaries of the site. A viewpoint on the east boundary highlights the view to the Sidlaw Hills. Views into the property from outside are limited by the lie of the land and by Battleby policy planting along the B8063 but the presence of a designed landscape is revealed by the ornamental species on the boundary.

Battleby House stands within 46 acres (19ha) of designed landscape which extends north and west to the woodland edges of the surrounding agricultural land, south across the B8063 to Rookery Wood and east to the Display Area and the drive. There are no landscape records of the ground around Battleby prior to 1865. The 1865 1:2,500 OS Sheet however shows the existence of clearly structured and well- established policies around Battleby House including a formal garden, woodland and laid out walks. The central block of oak woodland now known as Big Wood was clearly well established then. The estate has been reduced in size at each successive change in ownership to its present 37.76 acres (15.27ha) which the Countryside Commission for Scotland purchased in 1970.

Site History

The designed landscape was laid out before the mid-19th century, prior to the construction of the new house in 1861-63; the designer is unknown. The plant collection was established by Sir Alexander Cross between 1947 and 1963.

The name of Battleby is derived from the Battle of Luncarty which was fought approximately half a mile to the east of the site in c.990 AD. The earliest known owners of Battleby were the Lyndoch family. At that time, a farmhouse stood on the site of the present house and was known as Redgorton Farm. It was sold, with land, to the Maxtone-Grahams who built the present house c.1862 and carried out much of the tree planting which remains today. A new home farm was built about half a mile to the east of the new house by Kirkhill in 1901. The house was leased for some time and references exist to tenants of the late 19th & early 20th century period. During World War I the house was used as a hospital. In 1947, the estate was purchased by Alexander Cross, who had previously leased the house. He succeeded to the Baronetcy in 1950. During his ownership until 1963, when he died, he amassed the plant collection for which Battleby became noted. Mr S.A. Hay purchased the estate shortly after Sir Alexander's death and sold it to the Countryside Commission for Scotland in 1970. The house was converted to office accommodation and the headquarters of the Commission was established at Battleby one year after purchase.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Battleby House, listed Category B, is a two-storey red sandstone building with low pitched roofs. It was designed by David Smart of Perth between 1861- 63. A large mock Tudor-style extension, built on the east facade of the house at a later date, was removed earlier this century. The Battleby Centre, designed by architects Morris and Steedman of Edinburgh, was converted in 1974 from the old stable and garage courtyard which had previously been part of Battleby farm before it was moved one- third of a mile to the east in 1901. In 1974 the Battleby Centre received the RIBA award for Scotland and in 1975 a European Architectural Heritage Award. A timber pavilion/summerhouse overlooks the front lawn at the main entrance and two stone seats flank a second thatched summerhouse overlooking former tennis courts above the Park. Three stone urns stand along the south elevation of Battleby House.

Parkland

The Park area lies on rising ground to the west of Battleby House and its front driveway. It is now maintained as open lawn which provides the setting to Battleby House and serves as a separating element between the woodland walks and the private area around the house. Between 1963 and 1984 it was grazed by cattle and sheep but this ceased when the area was restored to a mown lawn area in 1985. Comparison of the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps shows that the Park extended further into what is now known as South Plantation prior to 1906. It is thought that it was once laid out as a golf course. The front lawn on the south-east side of the house is also important in providing an open setting for the house.

Former bedding out areas between the front lawns and the house have been replanted with shrubs for easier maintenance. An area of Shrubbery has been planted near the Gardener's Cottage, and a Juniper Garden has been laid out in recent years to the south of the Display Area. There is an Azalea bed to the east of the Centre.

Woodland

There are several separate woodland areas at Battleby. The largest of these is Rookery Wood which forms the southern boundary to the policies and lies south of the B8063. It provides a visual enclosure and shelter to the landscape north of the road around the house and is composed largely of oak with birch, sycamore, beech, Douglas fir and Scots pine and an understorey of Rhododendron and elder.

The road-side strip along the north edge of the B8063 extends for some 460' (140m) from the east drive. It is important both for its contribution to the approach to Battleby House and the wider landscape of the parish, consisting of oak, sycamore, and other associated deciduous species as well as Douglas fir and Scots pine.

West Plantation runs along the crest of the River Almond/Sochie Burn ridge and forms the western boundary of the policies. Like Rookery Wood, it provides shelter and a distinctive visual backdrop to the more ornamental areas around the house. The western edge of the wood is oak and lime with mixed conifer and deciduous species in the core; many of the sycamore beech, elm, cypress and cedar are mature. The eastern edge of the woodland is more ornamental, extending to the area of the former tennis courts.

Big Wood lies to the north of Battleby House and is the second largest of the woodland areas. It includes many mature oak planted at the time of the original layout of the designed landscape, together with conifers and species and hybrid rhododendrons. The 1st edition OS map of c.1867 shows a footpath system through the woodland which has been cleared in parts of invasive understorey species since 1970. A new waymarked footpath through Big Wood has also been constructed linking through from the Display Area to the Park and West Plantation.

Top Wood is an extension of Big Wood lying north of the estate yard. Its content is similar to the other woodlands with oak, sycamore, birch and conifers. It has a thick understorey of Rhododendrons , including R. ponticum. This has overgrown the original footpath system which once extended through this area.

North Wood was originally planted between 1865 - 1901 as an extension to Top Wood. Like West Plantation, it has an outer edge of mature oak and lime with an inner core of larch and Scots pine. Rhododendrons have invaded the western area from Top Wood.

Woodland Garden

The Plant Collection was established by Sir Alexander Cross between 1947-1963. A survey of the trees in the collection was made by Eric Robson in 1970 who noted that the collection is a worthy and valuable one with many individual trees, outstanding by virtue of their comparative size or rarity value. Of particular note were the shrub and small tree specimens of Kalmia latifolia, Acer nikoensis and Fothergilla monticola. The emphasis of autumn colour was a factor in the range of plant material used.

The collection is dispersed throughout the area between Battleby House and the enclosing woodlands to the west and south in what is considered as three distinct areas: Battleby House/Battleby Centre area, South Plantation, Big Wood and the inner edge of West Plantation. Battleby House area lies to the south of the house between the south and east drives. The east drive forms a service and public entrance to Battleby Centre. The main south drive is planted with an irregular avenue of mature oak, copper beech and birch. The South Plantation lies between the Park and the B8063. West Plantation continues north from South Plantation towards Big Wood.

A full survey of the plant collection was undertaken by J. Keenan from the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden in 1972 and his report lists all the ornamental trees and shrubs in the collection at that time and comments on their management requirements. It noted that 'this is a first rate collection, seldom presented in this fashion elsewhere in Scotland'. Some of the specimen trees are labelled.

Walled Garden

The Display Area was developed in 1973 from what was formerly the kitchen garden of Battleby House. A range of greenhouses stood against the wall at the north end of the garden which was enclosed on the other three sides by a high corrugated-iron fence. Sir Alexander Cross also kept a collection of orchids in the greenhouses. At the time of the acquisition of the estate by the Countryside Commission for Scotland in 1970, the area was leased as a market garden. In 1972, the lease was vacated and the greenhouses were demolished due to their poor condition. The following year this south-facing sloping area was landscaped to form three terraces. A display of landscape materials, furniture & equipment, and construction techniques is now displayed on the terraces. The management aim for the area is to promote good design standards of manmade facilities in the countryside and to display products and surface-treatment in a natural outdoor setting, thus giving practical help and providing technical information for those concerned with provision of such facilities.

References

Maps, Plans and Archives

  • No information available.

Sources

Printed Sources

  • CCS -A Management Plan for Battleby Estate, 1971-76
  • CCS -A Management Plan for Battleby Estate,
  • First Quinquennial Review, 1977-1982; pub 1977
  • Second Quinquennial Review,1982-1987, pub 1982
  • CCS -Battleby Estate Management Plan, Progress Report: June 1982 - May 1983
  • June 1983 - May 1984
  • June 1984 - May 1985
  • J.E. Robson: 'Battleby House, A Survey of Some Important Trees', Oct 1970
  • J. Keenan: 'Report on Battleby House Estate', Oct 1973
  • Groome's
  • Listings
  • NMRS, Photographs

Internet Sources

  • No information available.

Notes of Abbreviations used in References

No information available.

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