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6 Mar 2017

The Kingdom of Fife

Hill of Tarvit seen from the lawns below on a sunny day. Manicured yew hedges define the terraces leading up to the house, which is surrounded by tall trees.
Hill of Tarvit
For many centuries, Fife’s location between the rivers Forth and Tay meant that it was relatively isolated from the rest of Scotland, as it could only be reached by land from the west or by ferries from the south or north.

As a result, this corner of Scotland developed distinct traditions and architecture.

The Trust has five properties in the Kingdom of Fife. Balmerino Abbey overlooks the mighty River Tay towards Dundee, although this magnificent 13th-century monastery is now an atmospheric ruin.

The opulence of Falkland Palace is a reminder of the royal significance this property once held. The pleasure ground and rural residence of the Stuart monarchs for over 200 years, Falkland Palace was one of Mary, Queen of Scots’ favourite places – and no wonder.

Hill of Tarvit Mansion is a wonderful example of upper-class Edwardian living. Built for a Dundee jute baron in 1906, this house had all mod cons, including central heating, electricity and telephones connecting each room. A few years later, the owner added a 9-hole hickory golf course, which is now in perfect playing order.

Kellie Castle was once the home of the youngest daughter of Robert the Bruce. The castle was saved from ruin by the artistic Lorimer family in the late 19th century, who restored many medieval features – and added their own Arts & Crafts touches, including a stunning mural by Phoebe Anna Traquair.

The Trust also looks after a whole range of buildings in the Royal Burgh of Culross. Designated an Outstanding Conservation Area, Culross is Scotland’s most complete example of a burgh of the 17th and 18th centuries, with its white-harled and red-tiled houses, cobbled streets and ochre-coloured palace dominating the town square.