This attractive Edwardian house, set in the Fife foothills near Cupar, is one of the most modern in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. It enshrines that half-century from the 1870s to around the 1920s, when Scotland was the industrial workshop of the world; the time when shipping, steel and manufacturing magnates amassed great wealth and often invested their money in art and collections.

Hill of Tarvit was designed principally to be a showcase for one such collection, containing Flemish tapestries, Chinese porcelain and bronzes, French and British furniture, European paintings and much more – all acquired by the Dundee financier and jute manufacturer Frederick Sharp.

In 1904, Frederick Sharp purchased the estate (at that time known as Wemysshall) from a branch of the Wemyss family, who had owned it since around 1690. Sharp immediately commissioned the leading Scottish architect Robert Lorimer to rebuild the 17th-century house and create the fine mansion you see today. Lorimer was himself a product of the entrepreneurial era, shaped by its contrasting creative influences. Inspired by William Morris’s Arts and Crafts theories, he was an enthusiastic employer of the skills of craftsmen who had been the power behind Scotland’s industrial eminence.

Despite being built as a treasure-chest, the house was designed on a scale intimate enough to be a comfortable and charming family home. However, sadly only two generations of the Sharp family ever lived there. Frederick’s son and daughter both died in tragic circumstances, after which the house and its precious contents were bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland. Ultimately, Hill of Tarvit’s short residential lifespan can be seen as a mirror, showing the waxing and waning of Scotland’s own fortunes.