Music for Playful Garden at Brodie Castle, National Trust Scotland

Cared for by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), Brodie Castle is a 16th-century rose-coloured, turreted castle that was the ancestral home of the Brodie clan for over 400 years. The castle is located 4.5 miles west of Forres and 24 miles east of Inverness on the east coast of Scotland. Visitors to the 71-hectare estate can enjoy the beautifully landscaped garden, nature trail and now the brand-new family attraction – The Playful Garden: a magical garden experience for all the family to enjoy and home to a fascinating menagerie of characters inspired by the castle’s quirky and colourful history.

Project Team: National Trust for Scotland (NTS) Percussion Play - Manufacturer

Overview: The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) embarked on an ambitious scheme to double visitor numbers at 450-year-old Brodie Castle with the opening of the “Playful Garden” to the site. The unique Playful Garden takes visitors down the rabbit hole (literally!) to meet some quirky characters and hear the colourful stories that connect them to the castle and the Brodie Clan of Morayshire. The Garden includes landscaping for youngsters to explore, large play equipment and giant sized fun, Brodie bunny measuring more than 6.5 metres.

The project produces a discrete but engaging family attraction within the wider Brodie Estate; building on the heritage appeal of the Castle and landscape. It offers new opportunities for engagement with the Brodie heritage and inspiration for youngsters and their families. The Playful Garden is a beautifully landscaped space for exploration and adventure within the walled garden of the Castle.

The Outcome

Inspired by the stories of the castle and the Brodie family, the garden, its quirky characters and areas for play, performance and discovery is attracting visitors of all ages. A completely unique experience, visitors can meet Brodie Bunny, Scotland’s largest rabbit sculpture at a mighty 6.5 metres long. There are unicorns, orang-utans and toads to meet, as well as a mini Brodie Castle to clamber on. The twinkling sounds of the Duo Cupla, Large Babel Drum, Papilio, Rainbow Cavatina with Music Book, and Tutti, ring out over the garden, creating a special atmosphere.

National Trust for Scotland wanted to 'radically transform' the visitor experience at Brodie Castle and predicted that the £2.8m revamp of the castle’s grounds would double visitor numbers, bringing a huge boost to tourism across Moray and the eastern Highlands of Scotland. Money for the transformation has come from a £3.5m bequest to the NTS by the family of Aberdeenshire-born lawyer George Anderson, who died in 1952.
Architects have used the walled garden area to create a garden of playfulness - a family space which includes a shop, café and play area.

The Playful Garden at Brodie Castle was a 2019 Civic Trust Awards Regional Finalist.