Garden History

 

Date over main gateway

Amisfield Walled Garden lies within Amisfield Park, an 85 hectare country estate. The park formed the grounds of Amisfield House, a mansion built by the Earl of Wemyss in the 1750s. The walled garden would have been used to provide a constant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the house, but its impressive buildings suggest that it also was used as a showpiece garden to demonstrate its owner’s enormous wealth.

1797 Ainslie map

The garden was built between 1782 and 1788. The ‘Union Jack’ layout of the paths in the garden is the one historical influence that we have taken from maps of the garden made in the 19th Century.  Interestingly a drawing from 1800 denotes the layout we have today whereas a slightly later map from 1855 indicates that two of the diagonal paths to the south of the garden had been removed.  Our current path layout replaces these diagonals with our grass apple walks maintaining this symmetrical pattern to Amisfield but acknowledging this original development of the design.

Glasshouses ca 1906

Glasshouses ca 1906

Remains of a series of glasshouses can be seen along its north walls. The garden was used for traditional cultivation until World War II, after which it operated as a market garden and as arable land. Amisfield House was demolished in 1928 and large parts of the park were incorporated into Haddington golf course, which lies adjacent to the walled garden.

The garden as a tree nursery

The Wemyss family sold the park to Haddington Town Council in 1969 and parts of the grounds were used to develop housing and a water treatment works. The garden was planted up by the Council in the 1980s with the intention of using it as a tree nursery. This was never commercially successful and the garden fell into a state of neglect for the next 25 years. In 2013 the Amisfield Preservation Trust was granted a 99-year lease on the garden and surrounding woodland from East Lothian Council, the current owners of Amisfield Park.

Work began in the garden in 2006, and since that time our volunteers have transformed the garden from a neglected state into a productive, working garden. Since April 2013 we have employed a full time volunteer co-ordinator. This has enabled us to open the garden to visitors six days per week from April to September and five days a week through the winter, as well as increasing the number of volunteers and volunteer groups using the garden (see Volunteering), providing training courses and networking in the local community (see What we do).

There is a booklet on the history of the garden available for purchase from the garden.