The house and castle stand on the top of three terraces with steps leading down to the gardens.
The gardens are divided by paths, walls and beds flanked by box and are shaped like a saltire or St Andrew’s Cross. Box blight has had a significant impact and with the design delineated by the shrub, many of the sections have recently been replaced by box from Europe which is allegedly resistant to the fungus. Only time will tell.
In the centre is the obelisk sundial designed c1630 by 2nd Earl of Perth, mathematician and scholar, and John Mylne, a mastermason.
At either end of the terraces are Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) clipped into umbrellas.
Below the garden is the kitchen garden which once ran the length of the garden but has now been reduced in size.
Numerous sculptures dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
Series 2 of the TV series Outlander was filmed here – standing in for the gardens at Versailles!
The Castle is not open to the public.
The gardens are open from June until October, 7 days a week.
Drummond Castle and Grimsthorpe Castle are owned by Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby. The Castle and the Gardens are managed by the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle Trust.
Historic Houses members visit for free
It is only right that the first Scottish garden I include on my website belonged to my kinsman, the 1st Lord Drummond of Cargill!
Drummond built the four-storey keep in about 1490. The Tower was enlarged in the 1630s to designs by John Mylne but became dilapidated after the siege of Cromwell’s army in 1641. It was restored in 1715 only to be partially destroyed again in 1745. It was rebuilt in 1822 and was habitable in time for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1842.
The 2nd Earl of Perth enlarged the Keep (see above) and laid out the terrace garden between 1630 and 1636. He and the mastermason, John Mylne, designed the complex Sundial. It has ’68 facets and 85 shadow gnomons and measures time in 131 different ways and at different times of the year, with special shadows for the summer and winter equinoxes’. It’s a work of art.
James, 4th Earl and 1st Duke was advisor to James II and became the Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. Described by his contemporaries as a great ‘improver’, the Duke built the core of the present house c1689. One of the Duke’s gardeners was John Reid who later wrote ‘The Scots Gard’ner’ (1683), the first Scottish book on gardening.
A Jacobite, James, the 5th Earl was forced to flee to France in 1745. After his death in 1747, his wife returned to Drummond Castle to manage the estates. However, in 1750, all the Drummond lands were forfeited because of their allegiance to the House of Stuart.
In 1784, the estates were returned to a descendant of 3rd Duke’s younger brother, Captain James Drummond who later became 11th Earl of Perth.
His only child, Sarah Clementina Drummond married Peter Robert Burrell, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby. On marriage, Peter and Clementina changed their name to Drummond-Burrell. In 1818, they commissioned Lewis Kennedy to make considerable changes to the garden – Kennedy’s family ran the Vineyard Nursery in Hammersmith and Kennedy had previously worked in the gardens at Malmaison for Empress Josephine. Queen Victoria visited Drummond Castle in 1842 and noted the French influence: ‘walked in the garden which is really very fine, with terraces, like an old French garden’.
Baroness Willoughby de Eresby married Sir Gilbert Heathcote and in 1878 updated the Castle to designs by G T Ewing. Their son was made the Earl of Ancaster in 1892.
The 3rd Earl of Ancaster married the Hon. Nancy Astor – together they replanned and replanted the gardens.