Lothians: About 4.5 miles east of Edinburgh, on minor road west of A6095, 1 mile west of Musselburgh, Newhailes Road, at Newhailes House.
NTS NT 325725 OS: 66 EH21 6RY
OPEN: House open for guided tours: Easter, then May-Sep, Thu-Mon 12.00-17.00; visitor centre with cafe open same days as house, plus Oct, Sat & Sun; estate open all year, daily until
Tel: 0131 653 5599 Web: www.nts.org.uk
In landscaped parkland and woodland overlooking the Forth, Newhailes is a plain and somewhat dour although imposing symmetrical mansion. The first more modest house was built in 1686 by the architect James Smith as his own residence, but this was altered and extended in the 18th century with the addition of wings including a splendid library. There are fine rococo interiors, including the library, and there is a good collection of paintings and portraits.
There was a castle or old house near here, known as Whitehill, although the location is not certain and does not appear to have been at the site of Newhailes House, perhaps being nearer Wanton Walls [NT 322721]. There is an old lectern-type doocot [NT 325724], probably dating from the 17th or 18th century.
‘Whythill’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of The Lothians, then on Adair’s map of Midlothian.
The property was formerly known as Whitehill, and was held by the Preston family from the 15th century. James Smith purchased Whitehill in 1686, was Surveyor of the Royal Works, and began the present Newhailes. Smith got into financial difficulties and sold the property to John Bellenden of Broughton, 2nd Lord Bellenden, in 1702, who renamed it Broughton. The name was changed to Newhailes when the property was purchased in 1709 by Sir David Dalrymple, fifth son of the Viscount of Stair, calling it after his East Lothian estate of Hailes (also see Hailes Castle). Sir David had been made a baronet the previous year.
Newhailes was visited by many leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. The house was occupied as a private residence until 1997 and much of the atmospheric interior has been preserved as it was left.
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