Situated in Perthshire, Scotland, Drummond Castle is well-known for its colourful gardens. The Historic Environment Scotland describes it as “the best example of formal terraced gardens in Scotland” and it isn’t hard to see why. It sits roughly 4 kilometres south of Crieff in Muthill parish.
The history of Drummond Castle
Often described as a medieval mosaic, Drummond Castle comprises of a tower house built back in the 15th century as well as a 17th-century mansion. Both of those parts were mostly reconstructed back in the 19th century.
The Drummond Castle garden is protected as a category A listed building while the castle itself is category B listed. With a dark yet interesting past, it isn’t hard to see why this castle is a favourite for many people even though it can no longer be visited.
The early history
Originally, in the 14th century, the lands of Drummond were the property of the Drummond family. The building of the original tower house, beginning in 1490, spread out over several years and was built by John Drummond, 1st Lord Drummond of Cargill. In 1605, the 4th Lord Drummond was created Earl of Perth and added to the castle.
It was the 2nd Earl of Perth that laid out the first terraced garden surrounding the castle sometime in the 1630s.
In 1653, the castle was sacked by the army of Oliver Cromwell during the tumultuous Wars of the Three Kingdoms. At this time, the 4th Earl of Perth was Lord Chancellor of Scotland under King James VII. He went forth and began the building of the mansion house in 1689 before he was imprisoned following the deposition of King James by William of Orange.
Afterwards, he fled to the exiled Jacobite court in France. The Drummonds, at the time, continued to support the Jacobite cause in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745. The Drummond family retained control of the estate until 1750 when the Drummond properties were declared forfeit and seized by the state.
Until 1784, the estate was managed by the Commissioners for Forfeited Estates. It was then sold to Captain James Drummond, later the 1st Baron of Perth. He quickly got to work on improvements that were later continued by his daughter, Sarah, and her husband, the 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby.
These improvements included the Drummond Castle garden and terraces in the 1830s. In 1842, Queen Victoria even visited the gardens. The castle then passed to the 24th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby. Later, it passed to her son, the 1st Earl of Ancaster. The upper stories of the tower house were rebuilt completely and heightened in a pseudo-medieval style from 1842 to 1853.
In 1878, the mansion was renovated to the designs drawn up by George Turnbull Ewing. In the 1950s, the 3rd Earl of Ancaster and his wife, Nancy Astor, replanted the Drummond Castle garden completely.
The current day
Drummond Castle fell into new ownership in 2021 when the 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby inherited it from her father. Unfortunately, the castle is no longer open to visitors and the gardens are managed by the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle Trust.
Drummond Castle Timeline
- 14th century- The lands of Drummond are the property of the Drummond family
- 1490- The building of the original tower house begins
- 1605- The 4th Lord Drummond is created Earl of Perth and added to the castle
- 1630s- The 2nd Earl of Perth lays out the first terraced garden surrounding the castle
- 1653- The castle was sacked by the army of Oliver Cromwell during the tumultuous Wars of the Three Kingdoms
- 1689- Building of the mansion house begins
- 1750- The Drummon family lose the estate when they are declared forfeit and seized by the state
- 1784- The Commissioners for Forfeited Estates leave as Captain James Drummon buys the castle
- 1830s- The castle is improved as well as the Drummond Castle garden
- 1842- Queen Victoria visits the gardens
- 1842 to 1853- The upper stories of the tower house are rebuilt completely and heightened in a pseudo-medieval style
- 1878- The mansion is renovated to the designs drawn up by George Turnbull Ewing
- 1950s- The 3rd Earl of Ancaster and his wife, Nancy Astor, replant the Drummond Castle garden completely
- 2021- The castle falls into new ownership after being inherited
Drummond Castle facts
- The tower house, or keep, is no longer used as a dwelling
- The gardens you see at the castle today were planted in the 1950s
- In 1842, Queen Victoria visited the gardens
- You can see Drummond Castle in Outlander, the TV series
- The oldest part of the castle is the tower-house built over several years by Sir John Drummond of Cargill
Featured in TV and film
- Rob Roy (1995)
- The Bruce (1996)
- Man to Man (2005)
- Outlander (2014)
Books on Drummond Castle
- Drummond Castle Gardens by Fiona Jamieson (1993)
- Mistress of Drummond Castle by C.P. Stone (1996)
Who owns Drummond Castle?
In early 2021, the owner of the estate became Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby (who holds the peerage of Baron Willoughby de Eresby). She inherited it after her father passed.
Nowadays, the castle itself is closed to the public as it is a private residence. However, the gardens are open 11am to 5pm throughout June, July, August, and September. They are open 7 days a week and no pre-booking of tickets is required.
You can also enjoy your very own Drummond Castle wedding in the gardens. In fact, the location is a favourite wedding venue for many. What better way to celebrate your beautiful day than in historical gardens backed by a castle!
Nearby, you can visit MacRosty Park, Loch Monzievaird, the Strathearn Gallery, the Glenturret Distillery, and Lady Mary’s Walk.