Newhailes House

Newhailes House is a Palladian style country house which stands in 80 acres of parkland on the edge of the small town of Musselburgh in East Lothian, Scotland. Originally named Whitehills, it is a Category A listed building which is now occupied and maintained by the National Trust for Scotland.[1]

Newhailes House
LocationMusselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
Coordinates55.94086°N 3.079214°W / 55.94086; -3.079214
Built forJames Smith
ArchitectJames Smith
Listed Building – Category A
Designated22 January 1971
Reference no.LB10911
Location of Newhailes in East Lothian

The current building comprises the original 7-bay frontage flanked by later extensions.

The stable block is also a Category A building.[2]


The house was originally built c.1686 by Scottish architect James Smith for his own use. In 1701 he sold the estate to John Bellenden, 2nd Lord Bellenden, who sold it in 1709 to Sir David Dalrymple, 1st Baronet. He renamed the house Newhailes in recognition of Hailes Castle on their family estate at East Linton and added the east wing as a library. On his death in 1721 the house passed to his heir Sir James Dalrymple, 2nd Baronet, the Principal Auditor of the Exchequer in Scotland.[3]

Sir James extended and reshaped the house, adding a balancing west apartment wing, and moving the entrance from the north-east to the south-west. The gardens were probably laid out at the same time. In the pediment over the front door are the heads of a male and a female in profile with the inscription laudo manentum that is a quote from Horace referring to 'fickle fortune'. Over the north door of the house is inscribed another Horace quote sapienter uti which relates to the happy man who wisely uses whatever he has been given to work with. It is considered by many that the carved heads were inspired by the famous and controversial Edinburgh 'Netherbow Heads' that were at the time considered to be of Roman origin representing the Emperor Septimius Severus and his consort Julia Domna.[4]

Sir David Dalrymple, 3rd Baronet inherited in 1751. He had the house remodelled and the stable block added in 1790 by James Craig.

After Sir David's death the house passed down through a further 6 generations of Dalrymples. It was modernised in 1907 but became empty in 1980. It was acquired by the Scottish National Trust in 1997 and now offers a location for weddings, corporate events and private parties.[5] It is open to the public by way of guided tours.

In 2019, the National Trust for Scotland reported that it was undertaking a large-scale exercise to rid the house of moth infestation. [6]

The Pleasure Grounds

The estate is notable for the remains of a 'Shell Grotto'[7] and in addition a 'Tea House' standing upon a Palladian bridge with views of cascades and waterfalls. The 'Ladies' Walk' on its raised terrace between the Cow and Sheep Parks is thought to be unique in Scotland.

Newhailes railway station

First recorded as 'New Hailes' this station stood within the estate but served the town of Musselburgh as well as the estate from 1847 to 1950.


  1. Historic Environment Scotland. "NEWHAILES HOUSE WITH GATEPIERS  (Category A) (LB10911)". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  2. Historic Environment Scotland. "NEWHAILES HOUSE, STABLES  (Category A) (LB10916)". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  3. Horrocks, Hilary (2017), Newhailes, National Trust for Scotland
  4. Brown, Ian (2016). The 'Roman Heads' at the Netherbow in Edinburgh : a case of antiquarian wishful thinking in the 18th and 19th centuries. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. V.146. p. 253.
  5. "Newhailes". Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  6. "Stately home sends in special pest squad to exterminate moths". BBC News.
  7. Historic Environment Scotland. "NEWHAILES HOUSE, SHELL GROTTO  (Category B) (LB10915)". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  • Article partly based on a translation of the equivalent article de:Newhailes House on German Wikipedia.
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