10 bedroom equestrian facility for saleEarlshall Castle, Leuchars, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16
- 8 reception rooms
- 10 bedrooms
- 2 dressing rooms, 6 bathrooms
- Three cottages
- Outbuildings. Five car garage
- Magnificent walled garden
- Parkland and policy woodlands
- About 53 acres in all
- EPC Rating = G
One of the best kept 16th century houses in Scotland
Beautifully restored by Sir Robert Lorimer. World famous walled garden
Earlshall is set in 34 acres of its own parkland and policy woodland near the village of Leuchars in north east Fife.
St Andrews is renowned worldwide as the home of golf. There are now seven golf courses at St Andrews including the Old Course, regular host to the Open Championship. There are many other golf courses in the area including two courses at St Andrews Bay, The Duke's Course, Kingsbarns, Crail and Elie.
As well as being famous for golf, St Andrews is well known for its University which is one of the oldest in Britain and for the Byre Theatre. It also provides good state schooling at Madras College and private schooling at St Leonards. There are also public schools near Perth (Glenalmond and Strathallan) and Dundee High School is within easy reach. The town has a good range of shops, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and a cinema.
Beyond St Andrews is the East Neuk of Fife with its spectacular coastline which boasts fishing villages built around picturesque harbours and sandy unspoilt beaches. The venue for the annual Fife Hunt point-to-point is nearby at Balcormo, which also hosts various horse shows and Pony Club events. Both racing and polo take place at Perth. There are some good pheasant shoots in the county. There is a long sandy beach nearby at Tentsmuir.
Access by rail, road and air is good. Leuchars railway station is on the main Aberdeen to London line and provides a fast link to Dundee and Edinburgh. Edinburgh Airport, with its increasingly wide range of domestic and international flights, is only 50 miles away.
Origins of the Castle
Earlshall is believed to have taken its name from the site of the hunting lodge of 'The Erlishall' owned by the ancient Earls of Fife, relatives of Robert de Bruce, King of Scotland. The first recorded mention of Earlshall was in 1495 when Sir Alexander Bruce was granted the lands and barony. His successor Sir William Bruce - a counsellor to successive Scottish Monarchs - was granted additional lands and revenue. With this revenue he began the building of the castle in 1546. It is likely that he built the smaller structure which is now called Dummy Daws before building the main castle.
Surprisingly the castle was built with large windows reflecting the architectural changes in the large new houses which were being built at that time in England, rather than the narrow slit windows used for defensive purposes in Scotland. However, musket loops and smaller windows were provided in strategic places as an insurance against armed incursion. A curtain wall was built between the main castle and the building to the south (Dummy Daws) and probably supported a small stone sentry post above the main gate. Dummy Daws apparently took its name from an 18th century coachman called Daws who resided in these buildings and was unable to speak.
Mary Queen of Scots
Tradition has it that Sir William Bruce received Mary Queen of Scots at Earlshall in 1561 when she was a young girl of 19. Later James VI of Scotland who became James I of England also visited. Both monarchs would have ridden out from the royal palace of Falkland to enjoy the hunting on the lands of Earlshall. Sir William died in 1584.
His grandson Alexander Bruce had his marriage to Euphemia Leslie commemorated on the granite fireplace in the Great Hall on which is carved their quartered coats of arms and initials. Alexander also built the doocot (dove cot) which lies at the end of the lime tree walk - his initials and the date 1599 appear on a stone lintel on the west wide of the building.
The Long Gallery
His son, also called Sir William, and his wife, Dame Agnes Lindsay were responsible for the famous painted ceiling in the Long Gallery which many consider to be the castle's crowning glory. Painted the full length of the 50 foot long roof in grey and black tempera, are the coats of arms of the principal noble families of Scotland as well as those of European royalty and totally imaginary nobles such as David, King of Jerusalem, Hector, Prince of Troy, and Arthur, King of Britain.
The Baron would sit directly beneath the royal coat of arms of James VI of Scotland and I of England when holding his Courts of Barony - signifying that his powers of justice came directly from the King. On the opposite side of the ceiling are the allegorical figures of the Seven Virtues, and numerous smaller squares contain fabulous creatures and mythological beasts. There are also a number of maxims contained in arcades painted on the walls. The most romantic of the paintings is a simple locket of hearts containing the initials of Sir William and Dame Agnes and the date 1620.
Ghost of the Bloody Bruce and Decline of the Castle
Sir William was succeeded by his son Sir Andrew who in turn was succeeded by his son of the same name. He was the most notorious Baron of Earlshall and was known as the Bloody Bruce. An officer of Claverhouse's dragoons in the last quarter of the 17th century, he won the Battle of Killecrackie and earned his name in his brutal putting down of the Covenanters. Ironically he became a Presbyterian himself prior to his death in 1696. His footsteps are said to be heard on the spiral stairs of Earlshall to this day.
The direct male line of the Bruce's of Earlshall died out in 1708 with the death of Robert Bruce. The castle passed to his daughter Helen who married James Henderson and it was inherited by Sir John Henderson of Fordell on her death. He was succeeded by his younger brother Sir Robert Bruce Henderson of Fordell and Earlshall who suffered financial misfortune and in 1824 was forced to sell Earlshall to Colonel Samuel Long of Bromley Hill in Kent.
Colonel Long never lived in the castle which ceased to be a family home. A family of farm workers occupied the castle during this period, no maintenance was carried out and it gradually slipped into a state of dereliction. By 1890 more than half a century's decay and neglect had taken their toll. Although the roof was substantially present, all the window frames and shutters had disappeared and been replaced with wooden bars. In addition a colossal growth of ivy was threatening the stability of the west tower.
Restoration by Robert Mackenzie and Sir Robert Lorimer
Robert Mackenzie, a bleach merchant from Perth, purchased the castle from the Trustees of Colonel Long in 1890 and employed a newly-qualified young architect and family friend to undertake its restoration. The concept of restoring an old dilapidated building to live in was unique in the 19th century. The young architect was Robert Lorimer who was later knighted and earned the reputation as arguably Scotland's greatest architect. He considered Earlshall to be one of his finest works.
Lorimer set about its restoration with sympathy and sensitivity - sparing Earlshall from the excesses of Scottish baronial architecture. He created a workable home without compromising the building's character - including building new kitchens and service accommodation cleverly concealed behind the curtain wall. Lorimer employed only the best workmen and used only the finest materials. He paid great attention to the smallest detail including the design of door hinges and light fittings. He installed the beautiful oak screen dividing the dining room from the Great Hall and added stained glass windows in the smaller window openings formerly intended for defensive purposes. At the very top of the main spiral staircase is a pierced iron screen, possibly the product of Thomas Haddon of Edinburgh. His new works were notable but perhaps his greatest single achievement was rescuing the Long Gallery and its painted ceiling.
Lorimer also built the arched Gate House, the Dowry House, Lindsay's Cottage (with five stone monkeys frolicking along the roof ridge) and the Garden Pavilion in around 1890.
Earlshall does not conform to the traditional 'L' plan or 'Z' plan Scottish castle design, with its plain west facing facade making it unique in constructural form. It is closest to the 'Z' plan principle, having a central block with off-set towers at each end and a romantic and pleasing aspect from the gardens to the east. The castle was built in two parts with the main castle lying to the north of a courtyard and Dummy Daws forming a separate building to the south.
Earlshall is approached by a paved roadway through the arched Gate House to a paved square in the shape of the Union flag to the west of the castle. There is a door leading into the servants' quarters and an arched gateway leading to the Courtyard which is cobbled with flagstone pathways and has a central well. A stone wall and a cast iron gate leads to the gardens.
From the courtyard a studded solid timber door leads to a circular hall with spiral stairs off. Passage with flagstone floor, fitted timber coat hooks, original servants' bells.
Cloakroom: Vaulted ceiling. Quarry tiled floor, built-in wooden floor cupboards and central division with bench and coat hooks. Shower, WC and wash basin.
Bathroom: Vaulted ceiling. Quarry tiled floor. Stone bench. Twin wash basins with fitted mirrors above and cupboards below. WC. Tiled wall dividing the room with the bath situated behind. Shower compartment with glass surround.
Utility Room: Vaulted ceiling. Quarry tiled floor. Stainless steel sink. Plumbed for washing machine. Built-in cupboards. Outside door to garden.
Gun Room: Vaulted ceiling. Flagstone floor. Arched stone fireplace. Two steel gun cabinets.
Inner Hall: Vaulted ceiling. Flagstone floor. Dumb waiter to dining room above.
Doors to front of castle and garden. Passage with larder off with wooden slats, fly screen and stone shelf. Guest WC.
Kitchen Roof light. Panelled ceiling. Wooden fitted floor and wall cupboards with slate work surfaces. Sink and wash basin. Lacanche cooker with extractor fan above. Stone tiled floors. Integrated dishwasher and fridge freezer. Arch to:
Sitting Room Panelled walls. Cast iron fireplace with tiled inset.
Corridor to four guest bedrooms and two bathrooms. There is a wine store reached through one of the bedrooms. The end bathroom has twin wash basins, a shower compartment, bath with glass surround and heated towel rails.
From front door spiral stairs up to:
Great Hall: Flagstone floor. Great fireplace with carved stone inscription above and cast iron grate. Timber panelled walls. Window seat. Carved timber screen with Lorimer inscription to:
Dining Room: Carved stone fireplace with inscription above. Panelled walls. Corner alcove with window seat. Tiled floor. Recess with fitted glazed display cupboards and dumb waiter.
'Sma' Room: Painted timber ceiling. Panelled walls. Recess with fitted glazed cupboard and mirror. Door to spiral stairs.
Library: Timber panelled walls. Stone fireplace. Concealed WC.
Study: Timber panelled walls. Built-in glazed bookshelves. Stone fireplace with inscription.
The main spiral stairs lead up from the Great Hall to:
Bedroom 1: (Green Room). Ornate beamed ceiling. Stone fireplace. Built-in cupboard. Secret stairway leading up to Long Gallery.
The second spiral stairs lead up from the Laird's study to:
Bedroom 2: (Lorimer Room). Ornate coombed ceiling. Ornate cornice mouldings. Panelled walls with built-in drawers. Corner hanging cupboard. Sculptured head of Lorimer concealed behind panelling.
Both spiral stairs connect to:
Long Gallery: Magnificent long room with coombed painted ceiling. Window seats. Two stone fireplaces.
Bedroom 3: Traditionally called Mary Queen of Scots Room. Ornate beamed ceiling. Panelled walls. Built-in cupboard. Cast iron fireplace.
The main spiral stairs continue up to:
Bedroom 4: (Bruce's Room or Blue Room) Ornate beamed ceiling. Cast iron fireplace with tiled brick surround.
Landing with cast iron railings believed to have been made by Thomas Hadden. Door to:
Dressing Room Cast iron fireplace. Under eaves cupboard. Steps up to:
Master Bedroom Half panelled walls. Cast iron fireplace with stone surround. Turret with hanging rail. Steps up to second dressing room. Door to tower stairs.
Corridor with doors off to:
Bathroom Bath with shower attachment, two wash basins, WC and heated towel rail.
Shower room Twin wash basin. WC. Double shower compartment.
Bedroom 6 (Bentley Room). Cast iron fireplace.
Situated in the courtyard opposite the front door of the castle is a secondary building which is believed to pre-date the castle. Covered porch and outside stairs.
Garden WCs Two WCs.
Billiards Room (Original kitchen). Bay window to south. Large arched fireplace. Fitted pine seat. Boiler room off.
WC. Separate shower room with WC and wash basin. Inside and outside stairs to first floor:
Bedroom with vaulted ceiling and solid fuel stove. Sitting room with fully panelled coombed ceiling and walls. Stone fireplace with solid fuel stove. Kitchen with vaulted ceiling with decorative plaster work, wooden floor and wall cupboards, sink unit.
Second Floor Bedroom with vaulted ceiling with decorative plasterwork. Wooden panelled walls, stone fireplace, tiled floor.
OTHER COTTAGES AND OUTBUILDINGS