Grapevines in Granton?

The Friends Group has been busy compiling information and images of the garden’s history and evolution through the centuries, for review by Historic Scotland

One feature still intact is the ‘Vinehouse’, pictured to the left of the photograph below.  So did they really grow grapes in Granton during the late 1800’s?

Vinehouse and staff in gardenThe Duke of Buccleuch employed a famous gardener of the time, William Thomson, specialising in viticulture.

So skilled a horticulturist infact that he bred grape varieties for the UK, some named after the Duke and his family members.



The Victorians were ingenious and creative in their cultivation methods and William Thomson battled against the Scottish climate to grow grapes of high quality. Glasshouses could provide the protection needed from the worst of the elements.

How the inside of the Vinehouse may have looked, hanging with scented muscat grapes.

Vinehouse from ClovenfordsMuscat grapes - clovenford

William Thomson went on to open the first vineyard in Scotland, supplying fresh grapes to markets around the UK including Edinburgh.

His remarkable story can be read by clicking on the link Tweed-Vineyards-and-William-Thomson


About Mossytwig

Working in North Edinburgh towards sustainable greenspace development. Community food growing, permaculture, orchards and gardens for wildlife.
This entry was posted in Community Involvement, Walled Garden History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Grapevines in Granton?

  1. Fiona Tredinnick says:

    I remember visiting the vineries in the 1950s and later in approximately 1987.
    My mother, Jean Bruce Low, was the great-granddaughter of William Thomson through his son John.
    There were international visitors to the Clovenfords greenhouses. I was excited to receive scanned pages of a book written by a M Cordonnier of Roubaix, north eastern France, describing his visit to Clovenfords and showing a photo of John Thomson on a visit to Roubaix. The book by William Thomson on growing grapes can still be found in specialist libraries all over the world: Australia, New Zealand, California, South Africa, France. It seems the viticulteurs of their generation took it to the New World to aid the establishment of significant vineyards. Who knows?!

  2. Fiona Tredinnick says:

    As a descendant of William Thomson, I am interested to know whether there remains any grapevine growing which can be traced back to that period?

    Fiona Tredinnick

    • Mossytwig says:

      Hi Fiona, on our doors open day at the end of September we had an enlightening visit from the retired market gardeners and previous owners.
      There is one old vine still growing like a triffid in the old ‘vinehouse’. Agnes said it was a black grape and others at the garden thought it may be ‘Black Hamburg’ but this is just a guess at present as it has no fruit after being cut back very hard in ~ January we think, when the old glasshouse roof was removed.
      We hope to bubblewrap the root area of the old vine too give it some protection over the winter if we can. There is still so much research and exploration of the garden to undertake.


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