Newhailes House & Gardens teacher information

Newhailes was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland in January 1997, and is an important example of a late 17th-century house (with impressive 18th-century additions) set within a designed landscape.

Newhailes has some of the finest rococo interiors in Scotland, an excellent collection of 18th-century portraits and many beautifully preserved items of furniture and textiles. The Trust has developed a conservation strategy based around preserving the untouched interiors of the house. This means that conservation work has been non-intrusive, changing the original materials and appearance of the house as little as possible. 

The design of the estate remains much the same today as when it was first laid out, probably between 1721 and 1751. Newhailes was created in the fashionable style of the day: a pastoral scene interspersed with follies. Due to years of neglect, the follies fell into disrepair, but you can still see the remains of the shell grotto and other interesting landmarks in the landscape. Woodland and grassland habitats provide a wildlife haven in what is now a predominantly built-up area.

The school programme at Newhailes offers many opportunities for cross-curricular work and engaging with the Curriculum for Excellence. The programme  includes tours of the house, focusing on the Scottish Enlightenment and the lives of the family and the servants that lived there. In the stable block, the newly refurbished education room is used for school activities and educational events, including art and history workshops and exhibitions. 

Environmental education sessions take place on the estate, and cover a range of Sciences and Social Studies outcomes. Sessions can be tailored to your pupils’ needs - please contact us to discuss your requirements. The Education Room can also be used as a base for ranger-led activities. Newhailes runs the very popular Green Scene for Schools event each year. This is a two day event for P2-P7 pupils, offering environmentally themed workshops devised by local ranger services and environmental organisations. All the workshops are curriculum-linked.  Secondary schools are welcome; please contact Newhailes to discuss your requirements.

Possible topics

  • The Scottish Enlightenment
  • The Georgians
  • Conservation
  • Minibeasts and wildlife

Resources for schools

  • A teaching pack is available for the house.
  • A teaching CD for the estate is also available. This contains activities about minibeasts plus a selection of other resources, including an Estate Trail and Tree Trail. The CD can be used for a teacher-led visit.

Planning your class visit

  • To book: please phone Newhailes on 0131 653 5599.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Teachers are welcome to lead their own visits round the estate – but please contact Newhailes in advance to book.
  • Maximum class size: 30 for a ranger-led visit with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult to 10 pupils; 15 for a visit to the house with at least 1 accompanying teacher per group (larger groups can be split and tours spread throughout the day).
  • The ranger and learning officer can also split groups between them, offering classes the opportunity to experience both the house and the estate in the same visit.
  • Ranger-led visits can take place all year round. The length and times of a visit can vary depending on the topic. 
  • House visits usually take place from Easter to September - special arrangements can sometimes be made for out-of-season visits.
  • Access: please contact us to discuss your requirements so that we can plan a suitable session. Further accessibility information is available on our Newhailes web page.
  • Parking: there is parking for coaches at the site.
  • Toilets: fully accessible toilets, for all pupils, are available in the stables courtyard.
  • Refreshments: there is a café in the stable courtyard. In fine weather, pupils are welcome to eat snacks/packed lunches at our picnic area. In wet weather, the education room may be available – this must be confirmed when you book your visit.
  • Clothing: stout footwear and warm, waterproof clothing is recommended for tours of the estate.
  • The site has been risk assessed. Teachers are expected to prepare their own risk assessment for the visit.

Charges

  • There is no admission charge for schools with Trust educational membership.
  • Non-members are welcome but 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: please meet us in the courtyard of the Stable Block. If you are arriving by public bus from the North Gate let us know so we can meet you there.
  • Trust staff will lead the school programme.
  • For visits to the house, your class will be split into groups of no more than 15. 
  • Ranger-led visits can take place as a whole group.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • Pupils do not need to bring materials for the school programme.
  • Photography is not allowed in the house.
  • Shop: pupils are welcome to visit the small shop if supervised by a teacher, in groups of no more than 5.
  • Coats and bags can be left in the Education Room.

‘The children have learned an enormous amount about the natural world, animals, minibeasts and birds. They loved visiting Newhailes and really enjoyed all the activities.’ Teacher, Campie Nursery

Download

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.