architecture, Borders, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape garden, Scotland, Summerhouse, Temple

The Temple at The Lees, Coldstream, Borders

In the border town of Coldstream a footpath leads from a lodge down to the river Tweed. The route passes an ice-house shaded by trees before a stroll along the riverbank brings one to an elegant stone temple. The Temple ornamented the landscape of a grand Georgian mansion called The Lees, which was largely pulled down in the 1970s.

The Lees (sometimes just Lees) was the seat of the interrelated Pringle and Marjoribanks (pronounced Marchbanks) family. In 1760 a traveller noted that ‘Mr Pringle has built a handsome house, and made a beautiful plantation’: ‘Mr Pringle’ was James, who died in 1769 leaving the estate to his cousin Edward Marjoribanks.

The temple was extant by 1769 when a historian noted Mr Pringle’s ‘modern seat’ as well as the ‘octagonal tempiato’ on the banks of the river. It is shown as an existing feature on a ‘Design for the improvement of Lees’ by the Edinburgh based designer Richard Stephens (?-1821) dated 1816. Stephens’ family business was in ‘draining, irrigating and embanking’, but he also drew up improvement plans for a small number of Scottish estates.

The Temple is named as such on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map of 1858. The map shows the Temple and the Ice House as well as an array of summerhouses and seats that are lost today, and the surveyors preparing the map noted the ‘considerable and well laid out pleasure grounds’. Historic England Scotland incorrectly date the structure to the ‘later 18th century’ and it is listed as Category B.

By the middle of the 20th century the house at The Lees was in a very dilapidated condition and the then owners were only interested in the fishing rights. In 1975, when all attempts to find a buyer or a purpose had been exhausted, permission was granted to demolish. By that date the house was owned by Andrew Douglas-Home, nephew of the former Prime Minister (which information the Flâneuse shares simply so the headline in The Scotsman can be understood: ‘Doom for House of Home’). The paper reported that whilst the Scottish Civic Trust and the Scottish Georgian Society thought the case was ‘one of the saddest ever’, they accepted that there was no alternative to demolition.

The derelict house in the 1970s https://canmore.org.uk/collection/2483132

Douglas-Home had a long term plan to build a new house on the site, and for that reason the circular central section won a reprieve and was left standing.

The central section standing after demolition. The columned section shown in the photo of the mansion above is to the rear. https://canmore.org.uk/file/image/1845697

Towards the end of the 20th century it was incorporated into a new house designed by Nicholas Groves-Raines, which has since been further extended.

The new house incorporating the round section, as seen from the footpath to the Temple.

As briefly mentioned the Tweed is of course famed for salmon, and the wide stretch of river in front of the Temple became known to fishermen as ‘Temple Pool’, as seen in this postcard view (which helpfully points out that in Coldstream the river is the border between Scotland and England).

Looking along the river Tweed from the Temple which is just out of shot bottom right. Card posted in 1921 courtesy of a private collection.

After the Right to Roam was introduced in Scotland Mr Douglas-Home created a footpath through his grounds and down to the river. Walkers are welcome but are requested to keep to the path and to respect the usual rules of the countryside (and to give Mr Douglas-Home a cheery hello if you see him out and about).

Thank you for reading and do please get in touch if you have any thoughts or comments – scroll down to the bottom of the page to make contact.

architecture, Bothy, landscape, Scotland, Sutherland

The ‘Hermit’s Castle’, Achmelvich, Sutherland

On a rocky stretch of shore at Achmelvich, in the remote Assynt district on the west coast of Scotland, is a little concrete structure. Built in the early 1950s, it is known today as the Hermit’s Castle and the tale is told that having erected a shelter in the form of miniature fortress, the builder spent only one night under its roof.

architecture, Argyll & Bute, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Scotland, Tower

East and West Towers, Islay House, Islay, Scotland

Islay House was known as Kilarrow House until the middle of the eighteenth century. It was given its new name by Donald Campbell the Younger after he remodelled the house in the 1760s. Four lookout towers were built on the island, and the two known simply as the East and West towers, survive today in the park.

architecture, church, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Scotland, structure, West Lothian

The Rose Walk, Jupiter Artland, near Wilkieston, West Lothian

As summer turned to autumn The Folly Flâneuse was reminded of a jolly jaunt to Jupiter Artland, a sculpture garden just outside Edinburgh, on a glorious day a year ago. A highlight was Pablo Bronstein’s Rose Walk, a pair of pavilions terminating a 25 metre long rose garden, their white-painted tracery magnificent against a clear blue sky. 

architecture, Dumfries and Galloway, eyecatcher, Folly, landscape, Monument, Obelisk, Scotland

The Murray Monument, near Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway

High above the wonderfully scenic A712 from New Galloway to Newton Stewart, in the Scottish Lowlands, stands this granite monument. After a stiff climb up the hillside the views are breathtaking in both senses: the ascent will leave you short of breath, but you will gasp in awe at the views.

architecture, belvedere, Dovecote, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Midlothian, Monument, Obelisk, Scotland

Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland

Sir John Clerk’s great mansion at Penicuik was devastated by fire in 1889, and remained derelict and dangerous for over a century. It was consolidated by the Penicuik House Preservation Trust in 2007-2014, and is now a thriving visitor attraction and education centre. The Trust will soon turn its attention to another of its stated conservation aims: ‘preserving and restoring the historic built structures within the Designed Landscape’. Excellent news!

architecture, belvedere, Borders, eyecatcher, Folly, landscape, Mausoleum, Monument, Scotland

Monteath Mausoleum, Ancrum, Borders.

The hero of this tale began life in 1787 as Thomas Monteath. By the time he died in 1868 he had taken the name Douglas as a condition of an inheritance, advanced in the military ranks, and been knighted, thus ending his life as General Sir Thomas Monteath Douglas. He had plans to ensure that he would not quickly be forgotten, and had this extraordinary mausoleum constructed.

Folly, Monument, Scotland, Temple, Tower

The National Monument, or “Edinburgh’s Disgrace”, City of Edinburgh

The National Monument in summer

In 1822 work began in Edinburgh to construct a National Monument to commemorate the men of Scotland who had lost their lives during the long years of war with France. Calton Hill had been purchased for the people by Edinburgh’s Town Council in 1724, making it an early example of a public park in Britain, and the elevated site was chosen for the new monument. After considering various forms the city decided to erect a replica of the Parthenon, giving Edinburgh its very own Acropolis.  Charles Robert Cockerell was asked to design the building, with the Scotsman William Henry Playfair as executant architect in Scotland.