Haddo House teacher information

The site of Haddo House has been continuously occupied by the same branch of the Gordon family since the 15th century. The current mansion was built in 1732, when the second Earl of Aberdeen pulled down the ruined castle of his ancestors to create a more fashionable residence for his family.

Built to designs by William Adam, the leading Scottish architect of the time, Haddo House is an example of the fashionable Palladian revival style. It comprises a simple three-storeyed central block principally used for family accommodation, with outlying stable and kitchen wings reached by curving arcades.

This design soon became outdated and impractical, and throughout the 19th century a vigorous programme of modernisation and redecoration was undertaken. The result is an elegant blend of crisp Georgian architecture and opulent Victorian interior design. Haddo contains excellent examples of fine art and furniture, along with primary source material that provides insight into the lives and times of the generations of Gordons who have lived here.

The formal gardens are little changed from when they were designed for the fourth Earl of Aberdeen in the early 19th century, and contain many interesting features, including geometric rose-beds, sundials, a fountain and graves of family pets. Commemorative trees planted by visiting dignitaries (including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) also stand in the gardens. The 80 hectares of wider landscaped grounds now form Haddo Country Park and are in the care of Aberdeenshire Council.

The school programme offers many opportunities for cross-curricular work and engaging with the Curriculum for Excellence. Tours of the house can be designed to suit schools’ requirements, and specific areas or rooms in the house can be used for pre-arranged activities eg sketching, music or drama. Guided tours of the garden can also be tailored to particular needs. Full study days are available, including a combination of any/all of the above activities.

Possible topics

  • Victorians
  • Georgians
  • The Gordon family
  • Wildlife and conservation
  • Art

Resources for schools

  • Handling kits for pupils are available.
  • Haddo House Hall caters for hundreds of children annually and provides opportunities for Theatre-in-Education group work with secondary schools – please contact us for more details.

Planning your class visit

  • To book: pre-booking is essential – please contact Haddo House. To get the most from your visit, please discuss your needs with the property manager when booking.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • PLEASE NOTE: visits to the country park should also be arranged through Haddo House.
  • Haddo House is open for educational visits all year round.
  • School programmes, including start and end times, will be tailored to your group – and will be confirmed when you book.
  • Maximum class size: 30, with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult to 10 pupils
  • Access: the ground and first floor of the house are fully accessible for those with mobility impairment. We regret that there is no wheelchair access to the first floor chapel or second floor of the house. Please discuss your requirements with us when booking. You can also find further information on accessibility at the Haddo House webpage.
  • Parking: all parking is in the main car park in the country park. Pupils with mobility impairment may be dropped off in front of the house. Buses may also drop off in front of the house in bad weather.
  • Toilets: accessible toilets are available in the stables courtyard; there are also toilets in the house.
  • Refreshments: there is a tearoom at the property, which pupils are welcome to use. Pupils can eat snacks/packed lunches in the picnic areas when the weather is fine. The hall is also available for eating packed lunches – this must be confirmed at the time of booking.
  • The site has been risk assessed. Teachers are expected to prepare their own risk assessment for the visit.


  • There is an admission charge of £2 per pupil.
  • Accompanying adults are admitted free.
  • Class teachers are encouraged to make a free preparatory visit to the site.

During your class visit

  • On arrival: your school will be advised where/who to report to at the time of booking.
  • Trust staff will lead the school programme.
  • Your class will take the tour either as a single group or divided into smaller groups, according to the activity you have chosen. This will be confirmed at the time of booking.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • Pupils do not need to bring materials for the school programme.
  • Teachers and pupils are welcome to take photos in the house and the country park.
  • There is space for pupils to leave coats/bags inside the house.

If you prefer to print this information you can use this download. Please note that some of the information may now be out of date.