Tyninghame was laid out in the early 18th century and the Parks, Formal Gardens and Walled Garden replanted in the mid to late 19th century. The Gardens were replanted again in the mid 20th century.
Tyninghame is one of the oldest settlements in Scotland of the Angles, probably dating back to the 7th century. The monk, St Baldred, who gave his name to the Chapel, lived here in 756 and there are archaeological remains of this period. Throughout the turbulent Middle Ages Tyninghame was an important monastery. It was purchased after the Reformation by the Lauders of Bass who are thought to have built the first house. It passed through many owners, then in 1628, Thomas, the 1st Earl of Haddington, bought the property. He was a favourite of James VI(I) and rose to become Lord President of the Court of Sessions and Secretary of State. He died in 1637, and the estate was inherited by his son, the 2nd Earl, who along with most of his relations was blown up at Dunglass Castle only three years later.
During the late 17th century, Tyninghame was let while the 5th Earl and his family lived on his wife's estate at Rothes. In about 1700, Thomas, the 6th Earl, returned to Tyninghame following his marriage to his cousin, Helen Hope. Descriptions of the ruined estate in the guide book include 'hedges uprooted, mounds and banks ploughed level', suggesting that there were gardens here in the 17th century. Together the 6th Earl and his wife began to improve the estate by planting. John Macky wrote in 1714 that there were 'many millions of trees in a sandy down or links and they thrive mightly'. Also: 'He (the 6th Earl) hath also laid out several avenues through his park, which, when full grown, will be as noble as any in Britain'. The extent of this planting can be seen in General Roy's plan of 1750. The Earl, just before he died, wrote for his grandson, a 'Treatise on the Manner of Raising Forest Trees' which was eventually published in 1761. In it, he attributed the idea of planting the 400 acre Binning Wood to his wife, Helen. They are considered among the earliest 'active and successful promoter(s) of agricultural improvement'. This quotation is part of the inscription on the Obelisk erected by Thomas, the 9th Earl in 1856 as recognition of his great- grandfather's work.
The 9th Earl (1780-1858) was a statesman and was appointed Governor General of Ireland. He undertook considerable improvements to the house and replanted much of the landscape. In 1858, his distant cousin, George Baillie of Mellerstain succeeded to the title and estate changing his name to Baillie-Hamilton. In the 1880s, his son, George, the 11th Earl, replanted the gardens and the attractive Walled Garden which are described at great length in many gardening articles in the early 1900s. The 12th Earl, who was the grandson of the 11th Earl, inherited aged 23 and with his wife Sarah, replanned and replanted both the formal gardens around the house and the Walled Garden. The delightful 'Lady Haddington's Secret Garden' was created on the old tennis court and is based on an 18th century French design. (Lord Haddington died in 1986 and his son has succeeded as the 13th Earl).
Tyninghame House, listed category A, was remodelled by William Burn between 1829-30 around 'a plain Scottish Mansion of large size' (Small's 'Castle and Mansions'). He refaced the original 17th century house, probably built by the 1st Earl, and created the new romantic outline in the 'Baronial Revival' style. Burn added the porch and in 1961 the heraldic doorpiece was replaced by W. Schomberg Scott. In the courtyard there is a Venetian well head, dated 1586, with the winged lion of St. Mark.
The Stables, built by William Burn in about 1833 around a courtyard, and some older buildings including the 18th century Water Tower are all listed category C. The ruined St Baldred's Church, listed category A and a Scheduled Monument, was first built in the 12th century as the parish church. It continued in use until the village was moved and the parishes joined in 1761. When it was excavated in 1930, remains of the early English settlement were found. The two ruined arches now act as a romantic folly on the edge of the formal garden.
The Walled Garden was enclosed in 1761. The ground was formally the site of the Manse and Glebe. The doorway is made up of pieces dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and was removed from the house in the 19th century. There are also classical statues of the 20th century and a 19th century replica of the 17th century Newbattle Abbey elaborate sundial.
The Obelisk, listed category (S) was erected in 1856, by the 9th Earl in memory of Thomas, the 6th Earl and his wife, Helen. The inscription is lengthy and praises their planting which was 'on an extensive scale'. Tyninghame Links Farm Buildings, the Lodge and Kennels were all probably built in the 19th century.
Tyninghame Lodge and Arch of the 1830s are attributed by Colin MacWilliam to W. Burns. The Factor's House and the Doocot, both listed category C(S), are late 18th century buildings. Most of Tyninghame Village is listed category C as the cottages were remodelled as a 'model village' by Thomas Hannan between 1836 - 1857. Tyninghame Bridge crossing the River Tyne just to the south of the Lodge was built by Andrew Meikle in 1778 and widened in 1931 by the engineers, Blyth & Blyth.
The parks were originally laid out in the 17th century and were improved between 1700 and 1737 by the 6th Earl of Haddington when he laid out the formal design which can be seen on General Roy's plan of 1750. The designed landscape was laid out on a grid pattern with three long avenues forming the main axes running east/west from the sea to Binning Wood. These were crossed by a series of woodland strips or holly hedges. According to E.H.M. Cox in his 'History of Gardening in Scotland', these hedges were planted in about 1705 and amounted to nearly 3,000 yards (2,699m) in 1835. Some, planted in double rows, protected the gardens. In 1900, a gardening article comments that many were suffering from a fungal disease and today there are only a few single trees left of this magnificent feature. The avenues still exist: the southern one, called the Avenue is planted with beech and the Obelisk was built as a focal point at its western end; the middle one, the Lime Tree Walk bordered by lime trees runs to the south side of Binning Wood and the northern one called Garlieton Walk was planted up with rhododendrons in the early 20th century.
In the late 18th century, the village near St Baldred's was moved and trees were planted in the pastures around the house. The straight edges of the woodland copses were removed and the boundaries replaced with sinuous curving fences. By the 1st edition OS plan of 1854, Big Park, Stone Park and Fore Fields had been planted around the house mainly with beech, oak, lime, Scots pine and larch. Some of these trees date back to the 18th century and others to the late 19th century. In 1878, Queen Victoria drove through the park which she described as 'really beautiful'. These parks are still grazed and their original beauty and size can be seen in the great expanse of unfenced pasture south of the house.
The seashore has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the botanical and ornithological interest of its coastline and part of it is managed as the John Muir Country Park by East Lothian District Council.
The majority of the woodland was planted early in the 1700s by the 6th Earl and his wife. 'Millions' of trees were said to have been planted. In 1727, Daniel Defoe wrote that he saw:
'an example of a gentleman's house … distingush'd by groves and walks of firr-trees about them at the Earl of Hadington's house at Tinningham: where, tho' the trees are younger than at Yester, yet, they seem to follow them apace, and to thrive so much'.
The 6th Earl laid out Binning Wood with 13 rides converging at three different circles called Lord Haddington's Circle, Lady Haddington's Circle and Bruce's Circle. He also planted Little Binning Wood, Brownrigg Wood and the Wilderness Plantation near the house.
More trees were planted at the end of the 18th century and the boundaries amended in the 1780s. By 1824, J.C. Loudon in his Encyclopaedia commented that Tyninghame was 'remarkable for its fine old woods'. In 1883 the OS Gazetteer recorded that 'the estate is famed in the E. of Scotland for the extent and singular beauty of its woods and its holly-hedges' but that 'vast damage was done by a gale in 1881' which blew down over 30,000 trees including the beech around the Wilderness one of which dated back to 1623. During World Wars I and II most of the magnificent hardwood plantations were felled by order. In the 1950s the 12th Earl gradually replanted them with hardwoods based on the original early 18th century design. In 1968, another disastrous gale blew down many of the remaining hardwoods but most of these have been replanted except in the 18th century woodland strips where the few remaining trees are now over mature. Some of the plantations have been replanted with conifers.
In the 1830s, the gardens to the south of the house were laid out in the Italian style at the same time as the house was renovated by William Burn. The two terraces are approached by several flights of steps from a stone balustraded balcony which runs along the house at the 1st floor level. Enclosed on three sides by the house, the first terrace is paved with beds filled with a medley of grey foliage and other textural plants. On the fourth side a wide path runs east/west along the whole length of the garden and opens up as another terrace on the west side of the house.
A short flight of steps leads down to the second broad terrace stretching to the ha-ha, the park and the chapel to the west. Along the retaining wall lies a colourful mixed herbaceous border. To the south of house in raised beds edged by stone, lies the Rose Garden formerly edged by yew and marked by clipped balls of laurel. It has been replanted by Lady Haddington with white and gold roses.
To the west, on the site of an old tennis court, 'Lady Haddington's Secret Garden' lives up to its name. Based on an 18th century French design, it is planted with soft colours, mainly blue and white, and many scented plants. The white lattice bower contains a statue of 'Summer' bought from Vicenza in Italy and seats are placed in other corners. Narrow grass paths lead from one bed to another, each filled with many interesting plants including old fashioned roses, Clematis, paeonies and white lilacs.
To the east of the house shrubs and small trees have been planted to hide the 'offices' behind the wall. The path leading to the Walled Garden is also bordered by tall shrubs and small trees.
Built in the mid-18th century, the walled garden is rectangular with a curved northern wall, described in 1824 by Loudon as 'a good Kitchen Garden'. In 1805, pineapples were grown here in a pit, with a brick vault below, into which steam was introduced. Some of the plants were in pots, the rest planted in the soil'. In 1885 an article describes at length the type and varieties of vegetables growing there but the garden was transformed in 1891 when it was replanted mainly as a flower garden by Lord Binning, the son of the 11th Earl of Haddington.
The arched Apple Walk leads to the stone doorway and on to the gardener's cottage at the western side of the garden. In the 19th century it was over 144 yards long and planted entirely with the Keswick Codlin apple. In the 1970s it was replanted with several crab apple varieties.
The garden is divided with high yew hedges shaped with embrasures containing urns on pedestals and other statues. A wide central path running north/south has a Florentine fountain in the centre. A formal herb garden edged with low box lies at the northern end of the enfilade created by the yew hedges and fountain. On the east side of the hedges, the borders are filled with colourful perennial plants. One compartment has recently been planted as a small arboretum and the trees, grouped according to the continent of origin, are well laid out and labelled. At the northern end, some of the Victorian glasshouses are still used and the long 'hot walls' still exist. Recently the area growing vegetables has been reduced and the rest has been sown with clover.