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
Cally had a large mid-18th century landscape and a magnificent 19th century landscape but its former outstanding value as a Work of Art is reduced to high due to the fact that much of the design has since been lost.
Cally has some Historical value in its associations with the Murray family for several centuries although there is little available documentary evidence of the designed landscape.
Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural
Around the hotel and interspersed amongst the woodland, there are some of the remnants of the early trees and mid-19th century planting which provide a little Horticultural/ Arboricultural value.
The grounds have outstanding value as the setting for a category A building.
The coniferous plantations are visible from the main trunk roads and provide high Scenic value.
Both the lake and the early woodland plantations provide wildlife habitats and have some Nature Conservation value.
Location and Setting
Cally Palace Hotel and Park is situated on the eastern side of the Water of Fleet estuary. It is located immediately south of Gatehouse of Fleet to the east of the estuary of the Water of Fleet to the south of the A75. The town surrounds the park to the north, and the minor road through Girthon to Sandgreen borders it to the south. The climate is mild and generally the soil is acid loam with shallower, peatier soil on the outcrops. Woodland shelterbelts protect the designed landscape from the salt- laden, prevailing south-westerly winds. To the north and west, agricultural land on the lower slopes allows unrestricted views to the moorland beyond, especially to Doon Hill, Glen Fleet and Bengray to the north of Gatehouse. Cardoness Castle and the Monument act as eyecatchers from the park. Cally Park used to dominate the whole of the south side of the Fleet estuary.
Documentary evidence of the historical extent of the landscape is supplied by General Roy's plan of 1750 and the 1st & 2nd editions of the OS maps. Some archive material is held in Cally Estate Office but this has not been examined. The extent of the Victorian designed landscape can be clearly seen in the OS plans but much was lost when it was planted up by the Forestry Commission. All the surrounding views were important but today only the extensive view of the uplands behind Gatehouse of Fleet are important from the house. The new A75(T) has sliced Cally Park in two, forming 100' (30m) embankments between Belvedere Hill and Bar Hill. The designed landscape today includes 713 acres (289ha).
The designed landscape was laid out in the mid-18th century and was improved during the mid-19th century probably under the influence of John Buonartii Papworth, a well known architect and landscape designer. Later planting, particularly in the pleasure grounds, was designed by William Dewar. There are references to James Ramsay possibly having worked at Cally.
The first known proprietor, named Stewart, lived at Cally in the 17th century. During the late 17th century, Richard Murray married a Cally heiress, and his son, James Murray, commissioned Robert Mylne to build the first house. One of the earliest houses in the area to be made of stone, it was described in the mid-18th century as 'modern, and amongst the largest and most princely in the south of Scotland'.
The site was laid out on an extensive scale: 'over 1,000 acres were planted, with gardens, orchards and pleasure grounds made at great expense'. The hothouses were 'equal to any' in Scotland and there was 'also a deer park well stocked' with venison 'equal if not superior to any in Britain'. Alexander Murray, great-grandson of Richard, modernised and improved the house and in 1835 J.B. Papworth designed the massive portico.
Other additions were made in 1857 to the chapel and conservatory by the architects Lanyon & Lynn of Belfast. The pleasure grounds were landscaped by William Dewar. In 1882 the OS Gazetteer described the 'extensive park' and the 'noble collection of pictures' and sculpture amassed by the Murray family, direct descendants of the first Stewart owner.
In 1939, the Palace and park were sold to the Forestry Commission and during World War II the house was used as a residential school. The Forestry Commission sold the Palace with 100 acres of amenity ground and it was converted into an hotel. The Commission gradually undertook a programme of planting up over 525 acres of their holding of 650 acres, which was completed about twenty years ago. The family still owns the remainder of the estate and much of Gatehouse of Fleet. Cally Palace Hotel was bought up by Trust House Forte who, four years ago, sold it to the present owners, North West Hotels Ltd, Stranraer.
Cally Palace is listed category A and was built c.1763-65 by Robert Mylne. The wings were raised in 1794 by Thomas Boyd. It was much altered c.1830 with some of the design by J.B. Papworth and later additions in c.1857 by Lanyon & Lynn of Belfast. In 1974, a substantial annex containing 24 bedrooms was built adjoining the house to the east.
The Lodges and Entrance Gates, listed B, are a pair of Baronial lodges, each with a tall turret framing the gates. Cross Cottage (known as Torters Cottage) is listed B and has a chapel-like facade on its western side. The Stables are mid-19th century and have been converted to accommodate hotel staff. The Ice House and Boathouse are derelict. Belvedere Lodge, listed category B, has a Gothic facade. The Temple, listed B, is a 19th century two-storied tower and is now roofless. The mid-19th century Laundry is now converted into cottages. Cally Mains is a mid-19th century farm-steading. Barhill Lodge is a late 19th century lodge similar to others. High Lodge of Enrick, listed B, is late 19th century. Cally House is listed C; all that remains is the 12' high wall of the original house before 1750. Cally Gate is listed B in conjunction with the Estate Office and the entrance from Gatehouse of Fleet.
The parkland used to extend to the north, east and south of the house. It now has been reduced to a small field between the stables and the lake. The entrance driveway sweeps from the imposing lodges to the Palace. The 1st edition OS plans of c.1850 shows a network of drives curving around the undulating landform, and today these drives are still used except where they have been cut off by the new road cutting or made impassable by forestry operations. A few parkland trees remain in two areas, Whillan Hill and Deer Park, but the remainder have been engulfed by the recent forestry plantations. Acer Park has lost the majority of its specimen trees. Remnants of an avenue still exist from Cally Mains to Airds Bay. Oaks and beech in the parkland north of the hotel date from c.1760; others, including some conifers such as Wellingtonias and Monkey puzzles, date from 1820-1860. A row of cottages has been built opposite the stable-block. Most of the existing park is used, grazed by livestock, except for a section of Bush Park which has been sold to a poultry farm.
Almost all of the 18th & 19th century woodland plantations have been replaced by commercial planting by the Forestry Commission. They have planted 255 acres with conifers and 272 acres with broadleaved trees mixed with a nurse crop of conifers. Several fine beech c.1820 remain but overall the woodlands appear in the landscape as if they are entirely planted with conifers.
The woodland garden extended from the house to the kitchen garden. As the Rhododendrons matured and the canopy of some of the fine specimen trees spread, the woodland garden has encroached into the formal area. A fine purple beech, a large Monkey puzzle, and a good blue cedar grow on the lawn amongst other trees and help to protect the garden from the disturbance caused by the new Gatehouse bypass running only 200-300 yards from the hotel. About four years ago, a hard tennis court was built at the rear of the lawn and croquet is played on the grass. Nearer the hotel, a small herbaceous border has recently been planted and around the hotel there is some colourful bedding out. The lawn to the north of the house is used as a putting green by hotel guests.
Cally Lake was laid out before the 1st edition OS plan. The original shape can be clearly seen and could have been enlarged as part of the mid-19th century scheme. The southern finger has silted up and has been colonized by reed beds. The lake is fished for trout by the hotel visitors.
The kitchen garden has been run for several years as a market garden by the Taylor family. None of the original planting or orchard remains except two magnificent cedars, planted between 1800-1820 to the south of the walled garden. The Forestry Commission has turned 50 acres of the area, known as 'Academy Land', near the town into a nursery.