Newhailes, Musselburgh, East Lothian

Newhailes is a historic house close to Edinburgh constructed in 1686 by the architect James Smith. The house was sold to the Dalrymple family in the early 18th century. The Dalrymple family were influential lawyers and set about expanding the existing house. The most famous room in the house is the library, which was referred to as “the most learned room in Europe” during the Enlightenment in Scotland.


I visited the house yesterday. The house is only open from 12 – 5pm Thursday to Monday from the 1 May to 30 September. You can only see the house on a guided visit. The National Trust of Scotland, who own the property, have a policy of conservation not renovation so the house is pretty shabby in some parts but still fascinating.

We had a fantastic volunteer guide for our tour who was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The tour takes around one and a quarter hours. The entrance hall has a lot of intact rococco style decoration. The famous library has no books, many were sold to raise funds, some destroyed by lack of proper care and the remainder are entrusted to the National Library. The dining room, painted in dark green with gold details is amazing with its classical column. Unfortunately you are not permitted to take photos of the interior of the house.

In their heyday the gardens were magnificent with a raised “Ladies Walk”, teahouse, fountains, shell grotto, summerhouse etc. The grounds are open all year and popular with local dog walkers.