Welcome to Craigenputtock

Craigenputtock, one of the most rural residences in South-West Scotland, was once the matrimonial home of Thomas Carlyle, one of Scotland's most influential authors. Craigenputtock dates back to as early as medieval times and the picturesque surroundings are still as they were then. With its tranquil atmosphere and untamed landscape it easy to see how Carlyle found it to be the ideal place to draw his inspiration.

The house is situated amid eight hundred acres of land, is sixteen miles from Dumfries and has been drawn and painted by acclaimed artists including James Paterson and Helen Allingham.

Today the property attracts authors, historians, literary scholars and many others from around the world who come to see the renowned environment where Carlyle penned his most celebrated works. Visitors come to experience the walks that Thomas, Jane and Ralph Waldo Emerson embarked upon and to see the house and grounds that have been so well documented over the centuries.

An historic house

There has been a dwelling on Craigenputtock since the eleventh century. Originally a single story building, the second story was erected in the early 19th century, between the years 1810-1820. In 1828 the Carlyles moved into Craigenputtock. Jane's letters describe the house in vivid detail, from baking bread in the kitchen to playing her spinnet in the drawing room.

A Scottish estate

The 800-acre estate is preserved as it was when described by literary and philosophical giants including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The grounds include fields for grazing and arable farming and also a moor where a cairn sits at 325m above sea level.

A working farm

The farm has thrived since the days of early settlers, through to Carlyle's time and continues today. There are five hundred sheep and one hundred head of cattle. The current stock are pedigree galloways with both belted and coloured varieties resident.

Thomas Carlyle

Born in Ecclefechan on December 4, 1795, Thomas Carlyle was educated as a divinity student at the University of Edinburgh. After five years of study he abandoned the clergy in 1814 and spent the next four years teaching mathematics. Dissatisfied with teaching, Carlyle moved to Edinburgh in 1818, where, after studying law briefly, he became a tutor and wrote articles for The Edinburgh Encyclopædia. He also made an intensive study of German literature, publishing Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1824), a translation of the novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1796) by the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Carlyle also wrote Life of Schiller (1825), which appeared first in serial form in 1823 and 1824 in the London Magazine.

After a trip to Paris and London, he returned to Scotland and wrote for the Edinburgh Review, a literary periodical. In 1826 Carlyle married Jane Baillie Welsh, a sharp-witted and attractive doctor's daughter from Haddington, East Lothian, whom he had met in 1821. After 1828 the Carlyles lived on the farm at Craigenputtock, where Carlyle wrote a philosophical satire, Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored). The work, first published between 1833 and 1834 in Fraser's Magazine, is partly autobiographical. In the guise of a "philosophy of clothes," Carlyle comments on the falseness of material wealth; and in the form of a philosophical romance, he details the crises in his life and affirms his spiritual idealism. In the satire, Carlyle emerged as a social critic deeply concerned with the living conditions of British workers. At the farm he also wrote some of his most distinguished essays, and he established a lifelong friendship with the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), who in 1833 paid an unannounced visit to the Carlyles which would prove to be of historical importance.

In 1834 Carlyle moved to the Chelsea section of London, where he soon became known as the Sage of Chelsea and was a member of a literary circle that included the essayist Leigh Hunt and the highly influential philosopher John Stuart Mill. In London Carlyle wrote The French Revolution, A History (1837), which was immediately successful. This was followed by a series of lectures, in one of which, published as On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841), he contended that world civilization had developed because of the activities of great men. His scepticism about economic liberalism, modern industrial relations and democracy was reflected in much of his subsequent writing, especially in Chartism (1839) and Past and Present (1843). His concept of history appeared in a number of his later works, notably in Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, with Elucidations (1845) and History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Called Frederick the Great (10 vol., 1858-65), his most extensive work.

After the death of his wife, he edited her letters; his semi-autobiographical Reminiscences were published in 1881. Thomas Carlyle died in London on February 5, 1881.

Craigenputtock Blog


Visiting


Visiting and Tours

With prior arrangement visitors are welcome to Craigenputtock and guided tours are also available.

Outdoor Activities

Offering quad biking tours, shooting and archery. Outdoor space also available for hire and expeditions.

Location Hire

The house and grounds have been the set for both film and television productions. Please get in contact if you wish to film at Craigenputtock.

Events

The tranquil surroundings are also ideal for wedding receptions and other events. Please get in contact if you would like to host an event.

Carlyle Craigenputtock Circle CCC

Local and wider interest in the lives of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle prompted, in 2005, the setting up of Carlyle Craigenputtock Circle (CCC), a purely non-profit organisation committed to the study and promotion of Thomas and Jane's life at Craigenputtock and the preservation of this world-class estate. The CCC's first inaugural meeting was on June 6th 2006 and celebrated with visiting academics from the USA and the UK, the arrival of Thomas and Jane at Whitsun 1828. The event was recorded for a feature on the Carlyles and broadcast by Border TV.

Professor Rodger Tarr spoke about the international significance of Carlyle's seminal work, written at Craigenputtock, Sartor Resartus and local University of Glasgow (Crichton Campus) academic Dr Ralph Jessop offered insights into the very public private life of Thomas and Jane which was chronicled in letters still being edited at Edinburgh University by Dr Liz Sutherland and her team who were also present at the event.

Over 200 people visited Craigenputtock during the Open Doors weekend arranged by Dumfries & Galloway Council at the end of September 2006. Open to public view were the grounds of Craigenputtock and a fine collection of vintage cars, as well as the opportunity to bring along a horse or pony and trek on Craigenputtock Moor. Inside the home of Colin Carter-Campbell visitors were invited to take tea and view the house, including the study where Thomas Carlyle wrote Sartor Resartus and the kitchen where Jane experimented with baking bread.

The CCC celebrated Thomas's birthday with a special session with guest speakers and lunch at Corsock Village Hall near Craigenputtock on December 2nd, 2006. Beginning at 10am, after coffee, intelligence specialist Professor John Chapman spoke on "Carlyle and State Censorship" and Dr Ralph Jessop of Glasgow University (Crichton Campus) spoke on "Carlyle and Scottish thought". After a break for a light lunch there was an invitation to visit Craigenputtock for those interested in viewing Carlyle's study and the grounds and take tea with Colin Carter-Campbell.

Plans to host seminars on Carlyle at Craigenputtock and to hold more events of general interest are under way with local university academics and interested groups. Papers given at these events will be published, subject to peer review, as part of the activities of the CCC. More recent activities of The Carlyle Craigenputtock Circle have included:

A series of presentations given by Colin Carter-Campbell on the life of Thomas Carlyle at Craigenputtock

A reception hosted by The Carlyle Craigenputtoch Circle and talk by Dr Malcolm Ingram, a medical practitioner and expert on the life of Dr John Carlyle, Thomas Carlyle's brother.

A re-creation, open to the public with guides and explanation, of the famous walk in August 1833 by Emerson and Carlyle to the top of Hawk Craig where Carlyle made one of the most prescient remarks ever recorded: "Christ died on the tree: that built Dunscore kirk yonder: that brought you and me together. Time has only a relative existence."

An exhibition entitled 'Carlyle Connexions' presented by Alastair Guild at the Catstrand

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Get In Touch

  • With prior arrangement, Colin Carter-Campbell welcomes anyone who wishes to visit Craigenputtock and to experience Thomas Carlyle's historic walks around the estate with Ralph Waldo Emerson. To contact Colin Carter-Campbell or the Carlyle Craigenputtock Circle please write or email:


  • Craigenputtock House
  • Craigenputtock
  • Dunscore
  • Dumfriesshire
  • DG2 0UX
  • Scotland