- East Lothian
- | 0131 665 1546
- | www.nts.org.uk/Property/Newhailes
- Free entry with National Art Pass.
- View venue & entry details
Boasting some of the finest rococo interiors in Scotland, Newhailes retains much of its original decor including 18th century Chinese wallpaper and Italian marble fireplaces.
Originally known as Whitehill, this neo Palladian villa was designed by James Smith in the late 1600s. Smith was Scotland's 'most experienced architect' of the time, yet financial difficulties forced him to sell the house just a decade after it was built.
Sir David Dalrymple purchased the property in 1709 and renamed it New Hailes. A new library wing was added to hold his vast collection of books and the house become known as an intellectual hub. Philosopher David Hume was among those who borrowed from its collection.
Newhailes later passed to Dalrymple's son, Sir James, who commissioned the Great Apartment. He chose splendid baroque decorations for the new build, such as ribbon and flower carvings by William Strachan.
In 1792, Miss Christian Dalrymple unexpectedly inherited the house. It was she who designed the landscape of the surrounding estate, including the creation of the flower garden. Christian also began to use the library as a ballroom, famously hosting glittering dances and soirées there.
The house was kept in the Dalrymple family until 1997 when Sir Mark Dalrymple's widow, Lady Antonia, passed it to the National Trust. The conservation policy at the house is to do 'as much as is necessary, but as little as possible', meaning the building is in good order but retains an 'untouched' atmosphere.
Among the most notable exhibits are the 18th-century Chinese silk bed hangings and costumes which are on display in the bedroom. Recently discovered inside a locked lacquer chest in the vestibule, they have been immaculately preserved. Newhailes also has its own art collection, including paintings by Allan Ramsay, Jean Baptiste de Medina and William Aikman.
Beyond the house, visitors can explore the servants' entrance tunnel, 18th-century tea house, mysterious shell grotto and pet cemetery where animals from the house are buried, including a horse.
The café sells light bites and homemade Scottish cakes, while the shop offers items made from the estate wood.
There are also monthly behind-the-scenes tours which take visitors round parts of the house that are otherwise off-limits, giving some fascinating insights into the house's history and conservation work.