Newbattle Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks from Melrose Abbey in 1140 and was the victim of English attacks many times until the Reformation. It was disestablished in 1587 and the title of Lord Newbattle was created in 1596. The abbey then became a house and was rebuilt and modified in 1650, 1836 and 1858. In 1937 it was gifted to the nation to be used as a College of Education.
An avenue of 9 yews line the driveway to the house and girths range from 286 – 390 cm measured at 100 cm high (SYTHI 2019) and these results imply an origin in the 17th century making them around 300 years old, perhaps slightly more. However, the largest yew here, a male, stands at the beginning of the right side of the avenue. It is 420 cm in girth and is very different in appearance to its companions and perhaps is an individual which was not part of the planting along the avenue and is older. There is also yew hedging and topiary to be found in the gardens to the rear of the house.
Across the river South Esk from the house is an area known as Lord Ancrum’s Wood which is semi ancient woodland meaning parts are considered to be over 400 years old. There are many yews in the woodland but more research is ongoing to ascertain if any may be ancient.