Blair Drummond Estate

Historical influences on the designed landscape
The earliest known owner of the present lands of Blair Drummond were the Muchet family from whom the property was acquired by the Drummond family in the 14th century. A descendant of this family, the 4th Earl of Perth, sold the lands of Drip and Cambusdrennie in 1684 to George Drummond, 6th Laird of Blair. He gradually amassed other lands but those on which the original Blair House stood were not purchased from the Earl of Perth until 1714 when his estate was designated the Barony of Blair Drummond. Alexander McGill was commissioned to prepare plans for a house in 1715 but work was held up by the political disturbances of that year and the building was not completed until 1717. General Roy's map of 1750 shows the formal landscape which was laid out soon after 1717.

Agatha Drummond, granddaughter of the 1st laird, inherited the estate in 1766 and her husband Henry, Lord Kames, informalised the landscape between then and his death in 1782. He is particularly noted for helping to introduce the 'natural style' of landscaping to Scotland and wrote the 'Elements of Criticism' in 1762. He was a great land improver and drained the 1800 acre Moss of Kincardine of which 1500 acres lay in the Blair Drummond estate. His son, George Home Drummond carried out his father's plans between 1787-1839 and transformed the area into good agricultural land.

In c.1868 plans to extend the three-storey classical house were prepared for Sir George Stirling Home Drummond but these were rejected in favour of plans for a new house prepared by J.C. Walker of Edinburgh. A new site was chosen on higher ground nearby to the north-west and, on its completion in 1872, the original house was demolished.

On the death of Lt Colonel Henry Edward Stirling Home Drummond, the estate was put up for sale in 1912 and was purchased by the uncle of the present owner, Sir John Muir. The estate has continued to be run commercially and part of the parkland to the south-east of the house is run as a Safari Park, owned by the Muir family. In 1975, the house and 17 acres of grounds were sold to the Camphill Trust as a Residential Home. Sir John and Lady Muir have retained the remainder of the estate and now live at Bankhead House, to the west of the Blair Drummond policies.

The division in the ownership/tenancy of the various components of the designed landscape at Blair Drummond has resulted in a variety of different management aims and resources. The parks are divided; the gravel workings are part of a phased programme and will be restored on completion, part of the land forming a new loch. The Safari Park is managed for amenity by the Muir family. With the site being in such close proximity to the house, any Park developments affect the views. The development of the Safari Park resulted in about one and a half miles of road being constructed, and safety fences, some 12 ft high, were required to be erected.

Attempts have been made to protect parkland trees from the animals with timber slats but inevitably some damage is done. Some trees have been removed whilst others have been replanted, with species chosen (mainly conifers and poplar) for their fast growth. Other hardwood trees are being incorporated in the annual tree planting programme. The woodlands are managed under a Forestry Commission Dedication Scheme.

The terraced gardens around the house are maintained according to availability of time of the Camphill Trust staff and a major effort is put into the cultivation of produce for the house. They hope to retain the plant material which remains.

The use of the walled garden has changed and is now maintained for amenity by the Caravan Club of Great Britain.