What a life it must have been in the 18th century. Your husband decides to woo you and with some style!
There were no flowers and chocolates for the wife of John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore. Instead he commissioned a wonderful declaration of love in the shape of a summer house with a giant pineapple on the top of it!
And today we are reaping the benefits of this exotic fruit. Restored and cared for by The Landmark Trust on a lease from The National Trust for Scotland, this beautiful folly is an oasis of calm and wonder. Ruaridh (7) and Flora (4) could only gawp in amazement as we stood infront of this bizzare building.
“Are we really going to live in there for the weekend?’’ asked an excited Ruaridh. And when Flora spied the open fire, requests for toasted marshmallows were made.
The Pineapple sits in a huge walled garden just outside the tiny village of Airth, a short drive from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling, meaning its an excellent base for exploring.
Short stays of three days up to longer ones of two weeks are on offer. And you need some time to appreciate the beauty of this building.
There are confliciting stories as to whether the Earl built The Pineapple out of love or after returning home from a stint as the Governor of Virginia where the fruit was grown in abundance. We preferred the romantic option, especially when imagining the Earl and his family looking at the grand dome from their now sadly demolished mansion. At one time it was said to have been painted gold and it must have been a spectacular sight!
Said to have been built by Italian craftsmen, The Pineapple was later owned by the Countess of Perth who had plans to turn it into a house. When these fell through, she gifted it to The National Trust for Scotland and they in turn leased it to The Landmark Trust who lovingly restored it to its former glory.
When work began, the building was in a bad state of repair and the gardens overgrown. But today, The Pineapple is back to its former glory.
Standing 45 foot above the level of the walled garden, The Pineapple has been beautifully carved and its leaves designed to allow rain water to run out. Four large vases stand proudly on the top of the building to conceal the chimneys which were originally used to heat the greenhouses below and help grow such exotic things including pineapples.
The Landmark Trust created living quarters on either side of The Pineapple which can sleep four. The main sitting room and kitchen are stylish and comfy and a huge open fire will ensure you can be warm as you enjoy the peace and quiet, especially since there are no televisions!
A nice farmhouse style kitchen has all the mod cons to allow for self catering and the other wing contains two bedrooms and a bathroom. Décor is simple, but respectful to the era.
As you make your way up the tree-lined driveway, you know you are in for a treat. There is no noise or light pollution and at night the stars are simply stunning. The Pineapple stands grandly as you make your entrance and in the background are the beautiful Ochil Hills. There are lovely woodland walks, which we enjoyed, along with blankets of snowdrops popping up as we made our way along. The grounds to the front of The Pineapple are open to the public, but it is rare to see more than one or two walkers a day. A pond at the bottom is also home to rare great crested newts, which lived up to their notoriously shy nature when we visited and stayed firmly under the water.
But it’s The Pineapple which draws you back. We lit it at night with small candles and enjoy a fun dinner, with pineapple for pudding of course! And in the morning Ruaridh and Flora loved serving breakfast inside their new fruity home.
With no television, it gives you time to catch up on your reading and The Landmark Trust has a bookcase dedicated to old buildings and The Pineapple. Visitor log books re live people’s experiences of their stay and their obvious love for this eccentric folly. Most said a fond farewell to the old fruit and a promise to return soon. And that included us too!
Factfile: The Pineapple is one of The Landmark Trust’s most iconic buildings. Prices vary throughout the year and to find out more information and to see other similar wonderful buildings to stay in, including The Music Room at Lancaster, log onto www.landmarktrust.org.uk