Belleisle House

Our Heritage

At the sale of the lands of Alloway Barony by Ayr Town Council in 1754, Dr. Alexander Campbell of Ayr purchased the property and lands which, at that time, were known as Netherton of Alloway. Around 1765 the property fell to Campbell's brother, Archibald who was a writer in Edinburgh, and in 1775 the property was inherited by John Campbell of Wellwood (nephew). On the death of John Campbell the property was purchased by Hugh Hamilton of Pinmore who made his fortune from sugar plantations in Jamaica. Hamilton extended the estate by purchasing surrounding property and he also built part of the mansion that we see today and laying out the policies around 1787. It was at this time that it became known as Belleisle. When his nephew, Colonel Alexander West Hamilton, inherited the estate he had the former mansion almost entirely rebuilt and enlarged. In 1839 the estate fell to his son Hugh Hamilton who was in his minority and was later purchased by William Smith Dixon of Motherwell. In 1886 the estate was sold once again the new owners being the Coats family (Paisley thread manufacturers) who further extended the mansion around 1900.

In 1926 Ayr Burgh Council purchased Belleisle Estate for the sum of £25,000, to develop it as a park, with two golf courses, which opened in 1927. Belleisle was requisitioned for the war effort, although after the war was restored with two golf courses, gardens, aviary, deer park and pets corner, with the mansion house as a hotel and restaurant.

Architectural Features:

Belleisle House

Belleisle House underwent major reconstruction (probably by William Burn, a prominent architect of the time) in 1829; further additions circa 1800 and 1895; as well as extensive mid twentieth century additions associated with the building’s use as a hotel. The building, which is listed at Category B, exists now as a two storey with basement and attic, eleven bay Scottish Baronial mansion. It is finished in coursed sandstone with ashlar dressings. It has string courses at ground and first floor; crowstepped gables; and finials at the apexes.

Other Buildings & Structures

In addition to Belleisle House, there are a number of other buildings and structures of note, all of which formed part of the Belleisle Estate. They include the North Lodge; South Lodge; South Lodge Bridge; Conservatory; and Walled Garden. They are all individually listed and also have a B-Group listing. There are also other remnants of the former estate, which are unlisted, but are of interest, including the later Belleisle Lodge on Greenfield Avenue and the former stable block.


The original conservatory was built in 1879 by William Smith Dixon (who was an ironmaster from Glasgow )and it was rebuilt to its current form in 1955 for Ayr Burgh Council by Messers Mackenzie & Moncur. The conservatory has a sandstone base with a timber and iron glazed frame; piended (a Scots term for a hipped roof) glazed roof with upper piended section; lantern ridge; and iron finials ; the floor tiles are original. The structure is listed at Category B, for special architectural or historic interest.

Unfortunately, the conservatory fell into a cycle of decline and disrepair and suffered from repeated vandalism which led to it being closed to the public in 2006.


While Belleisle is a designed landscape not enough of the original features remain for it to be included in Historic Scotland’s Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, a listing of gardens and designed landscapes of national artistic and/or historical significance. None the less the Estate does have substantial parkland with a number of key features.

There are two golf courses, Belleisle and Seafield, occupying the lands mainly to the east and north of the estate. The Belleisle course was designed by James Braid, a five times winner of the Open Championship and later golf course architect of some note, who is recognised particularly for his work at Gleneagles and Carnoustie. Braid is considered to be one of the finest golf course designers of all time. The Belleisle course has beech tree lined and extra long fairways interlaced by the Curtecan Burn, combining natural landscape features with good views to the Isle of Arran.

Both the Belleisle and Seafield courses are public golf courses and Belleisle is one of the few public courses which hosts professional tournaments. Tour players are known to practise here before major competitions.

The Estate’s formal gardens are laid out principally to the south of Belleisle House and include the conservatory and walled garden. The Walled Garden, which is late 18th century and is considered to be a good example of later 18th century garden architecture, is rectangular in plan covering approximately 4,200 square metres. The surrounding wall is of red brick and coped rubble wall construction and has a distinctive curved rubble wall to the NW elevation. The walled garden is listed at Category C(S).