Newhailes House & Gardens is a historical estate located in Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland. The estate is owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland, and it has been open to the public since 1997. The estate is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The main attraction of Newhailes House & Gardens is the 17th-century Palladian-style mansion that sits on the estate. The house was built in 1686 by Sir David Dalrymple, the first Baronet of Hailes, and it has been home to several prominent Scottish families over the years. Today, visitors can explore the house and its many rooms, including the grand hall, dining room, drawing room, and library, each of which is filled with period furniture, artwork, and other historical artefacts.

In addition to the house, Newhailes also boasts a beautiful walled garden, which was designed in the 18th century and restored in the 1990s. The garden features a variety of plants, including fruit trees, herbs, and flowers, as well as a charming summerhouse and a pond. Visitors can stroll through the garden and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, or take a guided tour to learn more about its history and design.

History of Newhailes House

Dalrymple Family

Newhailes House is a historic mansion located in Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland. The house was built by the Dalrymple family, who were one of the most prominent families in Scotland during the 17th century. The Dalrymples were a wealthy and influential family, with strong connections to the Scottish legal and political establishment.

17th Century

Newhailes House was built in the late 17th century, during a period of great prosperity for the Dalrymple family. The house was designed by the architect James Smith, who was one of the most important architects of the time. The house was built in a classical style, with a symmetrical facade and a central entrance.

Scottish Enlightenment

During the Scottish Enlightenment, Newhailes House became a centre of intellectual activity. The Dalrymple family were closely involved with the intellectual and cultural life of Scotland, and many leading figures of the time visited the house. Lord Hailes, who was a member of the family, was a prominent historian and scholar, and his work was highly respected throughout Scotland.

James Smith and Sir David Dalrymple

James Smith, the architect of Newhailes House, was also responsible for designing many other important buildings in Scotland, including the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. Sir David Dalrymple, who was a member of the family, was a prominent lawyer and judge, and his work was highly respected throughout Scotland.

Hailes Castle

Newhailes House was built on the site of an earlier house, which was known as Hailes Castle. The castle was built in the 14th century, and was one of the most important castles in Scotland during the Middle Ages. The castle was destroyed in the 17th century, and the site was later used for the construction of Newhailes House.

The Estate and Grounds

Newhailes House & Gardens is set amidst a vast estate and grounds that offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the beauty of the Scottish countryside. The estate spans over 34 hectares and is home to a range of different landscapes, including gardens, woodland, parkland, and a designed landscape.


The gardens at Newhailes House are a true delight for visitors. The flower garden is a particular highlight, with its colourful displays of seasonal blooms. Visitors can also explore the pleasure grounds, which feature a range of ornamental features and water features.


The woodland at Newhailes House is a haven for wildlife, with a range of different habitats to explore. Visitors can enjoy woodland walks, taking in the beautiful views and spotting local wildlife.


The parkland at Newhailes House is home to a flock of sheep, which graze in the open fields. Visitors can take a stroll around the sheep park and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

Designed Landscape

The designed landscape at Newhailes House is a masterpiece of rococo design. Visitors can explore the landscape gardens, which feature a range of ornamental features, including a ha-ha.

Architectural Highlights

Palladian House

Newhailes House is a stunning example of a Palladian mansion, designed by the renowned architect James Smith. The house was built in the mid-18th century for the Dalrymple family, who were one of the most powerful families in Scotland at the time. The Palladian style is characterized by its symmetry, classical proportions, and use of classical motifs such as columns and pediments. The facade of the house is particularly impressive, with its grand entrance and imposing columns.

Rococo Interiors

Inside the house, visitors can admire the beautiful Rococo interiors, which were added in the mid-18th century by Sir David Dalrymple. The Rococo style is characterized by its elaborate ornamentation, asymmetry, and use of pastel colours. The drawing room is particularly noteworthy, with its ornate plasterwork and beautiful ceiling fresco.

Shell Grotto

One of the most unusual features of Newhailes House is the Shell Grotto, which is located in the basement of the house. The grotto is a small, cave-like space that is decorated with thousands of shells, creating a magical and otherworldly atmosphere. It is thought to have been created in the mid-18th century by Lady Anne Dalrymple, who was a keen collector of shells.

Italian Marble Fireplaces

Throughout the house, visitors can admire the beautiful Italian marble fireplaces, which are a testament to the wealth and sophistication of the Dalrymple family. The fireplaces are intricately carved and decorated with classical motifs such as urns, swags, and garlands.

Chinese Sitting Room

The Chinese Sitting Room is one of the most unique and interesting rooms in the house. It was created in the mid-18th century and is decorated with Chinese wallpaper, lacquerwork, and furniture. The room is a testament to the fascination that Europeans had with Chinese art and culture during the 18th century.

Art Collection at Newhailes House

Fine Art Collection

Newhailes House is home to a stunning collection of fine art, which has been carefully curated over the centuries. The collection includes works by both British and European artists, spanning a range of styles and periods.

One of the highlights of the collection is the portrait of Lady Anne Erskine by Sir Joshua Reynolds. This impressive painting is a testament to the skill of Reynolds, who was one of the most important portrait painters of the 18th century.

Another notable work in the collection is the landscape painting by J.M.W. Turner entitled “View of Edinburgh from Calton Hill”. This painting captures the beauty of Edinburgh in the early 19th century and is a testament to Turner’s skill as a landscape artist.

In addition to these works, the collection also includes a number of other fine art pieces, including:

  • A portrait of Sir David Dalrymple by Allan Ramsay
  • A landscape painting by John Constable entitled “The Hay Wain”
  • A still life painting by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin entitled “The Silver Goblet”

Visiting Newhailes House and Gardens

Newhailes House and Gardens is a beautiful estate located in Musselburgh, East Lothian. The estate is owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland, and it is open to the public throughout the year. Here are some things to consider when planning your visit to Newhailes House and Gardens.

Guided Tours

Guided tours of Newhailes House are available, and they are a great way to learn more about the history of the estate and the people who lived there. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who will take you through the house and share interesting stories and facts about the various rooms and artifacts. Guided tours last approximately one hour and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Venue Hire

Newhailes House and Gardens is also available for private events and functions. The estate offers a range of venues, including the house itself, the stables café, and the gardens. Whether you are planning a wedding, a corporate event, or a family celebration, the team at Newhailes can help you create a memorable and unique experience.


While Newhailes House does not offer on-site accommodation, there are plenty of options nearby. The estate is located just a short drive from Edinburgh, where you will find a wide range of hotels, B&Bs, and self-catering apartments. Alternatively, you can explore the beautiful countryside of East Lothian and stay in one of the many charming villages or towns in the area.

Restaurants and Cafe

Newhailes House and Gardens has a lovely café located in the old stables. The Stables Café offers a range of delicious food and drinks, including coffee, tea, cakes, and light meals. The café has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and is the perfect place to relax and refuel after exploring the estate. There are also plenty of picnic areas throughout the gardens if you prefer to bring your own food.

Practical Information

Newhailes House and Gardens has plenty of parking available, and there are WC facilities located throughout the estate. The Stables Café is open daily, and the menu changes seasonally. The café is also available for private hire.

Activities and Events

Outdoor Activities

Newhailes House & Gardens offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. The estate boasts a vast expanse of greenery, which makes it perfect for picnics, walks, and nature trails. Visitors can also enjoy a game of croquet on the lawn or try their hand at archery in the designated area. The play area, complete with swings and a playpark, is a hit with younger visitors.


Throughout the year, Newhailes House & Gardens hosts a variety of festivals and events. The annual Easter Egg Hunt is a popular event for families, and the Summer Garden Party is a must-attend for those who appreciate live music and good food. The Christmas Market is another highlight, offering visitors a chance to pick up unique gifts and decorations while enjoying the festive atmosphere.


Newhailes House & Gardens is a stunning location for weddings and receptions. The estate’s picturesque gardens and elegant interiors provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic and memorable occasion. The venue can accommodate both small and large weddings, and the experienced events team can help couples plan every detail of their special day.


Newhailes House & Gardens is also available for private parties and events. Whether it’s a birthday celebration, anniversary, or corporate event, the estate can provide a unique and memorable setting. The events team can work with clients to create bespoke packages tailored to their specific needs and requirements.

Conservation and Volunteering


Newhailes House and Gardens are managed by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), a conservation charity that works to protect and promote Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage. The NTS relies heavily on the support of volunteers to carry out its conservation work, and Newhailes is no exception. Volunteers play an important role in maintaining the property and gardens, and in raising awareness of its history and significance.

However, despite the best efforts of the NTS and its volunteers, damage to the property and gardens can occur. This can be caused by a range of factors, including weather, pests, and human activity. For example, the historic walled garden at Newhailes has suffered damage from rabbits, which have burrowed under the walls and caused them to collapse. The NTS has taken steps to address this issue, including installing rabbit-proof fencing and carrying out repairs to the walls.

In addition to physical damage, there is also the risk of damage to the property’s historical and cultural significance. This can occur through neglect, inappropriate use, or lack of understanding of the property’s value. The NTS and its volunteers work hard to ensure that Newhailes is properly cared for and that its significance is understood and appreciated by visitors.

Getting to Newhailes House


Newhailes House and Gardens is located in Musselburgh, East Lothian, which is just a short distance from Edinburgh city centre. Visitors can reach the property by car, bus, or train.


The Lothian Buses number 30 and 44 both stop on Newhailes Road, which is just a short walk from the property. Visitors can use the Lothian Buses app or website to plan their journey and purchase tickets in advance.


Visitors can take the train to Musselburgh station, which is just a 10-minute walk from Newhailes House and Gardens. Trains run regularly from Edinburgh Waverley station, with a journey time of around 10 minutes.

It is also possible to take the train to Newcraighall station, which is located on the A1 and is just a short drive from Newhailes House and Gardens. Visitors can then take a taxi or bus to the property.