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Newburgh, High Street, Town House

Town Hall (19-20th Century)

Site Name Newburgh, High Street, Town House

Classification Town Hall (19-20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Newburgh Town Hall

Canmore ID 30135

Site Number NO21NW 73

NGR NO 23527 18283

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Newburgh
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO21NW 73 23527 18283


OS (GIS) MasterMap, July 2010.

Town House, High St. by John Speed, mason, 1808.

J Gifford 1988.

Architecture Notes

ARCHITECT: C & L Ower 1887-8 - extension.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Publication Account (1996)

The early 19th-century town-house is situated on the S side of the High Street in a central position in the burgh. It is a twostoreyed building about 11.5m square with a projecting steeple at the centre of the three-bay main (N) front. This front is faced with ashlar, while the sides and rear are of coursed rubble and the roof is hipped and slated.

The main floor, set 1.2m above street-level, is reached by a balustraded flight of steps which in its present form dates from 1887-8. The entrance-doorway in the steeple is framed by a round-headed arch. Above this at first-floor level there is a Venetian window and at the next stage a round-headed window, and between these openings there is a date-stone inscribed '1808'. Above the clock-stage the steeple is broached to the octagonal belfry, which has alternate open and blind round-headed arches and a crenellated parapet. Its spire is octagonal and is enlivened by oculi which on each face are alternately open and blind.

The ground storey has been converted for domestic use, but the first floor, which has a large council-chamber to the rear, remains largely unaltered. This room, which occupies the full breadth of the building, has a small gallery in the N wall and a coombed ceiling. Built against the W wall, but probably occupying the position of an original fireplace, there is a boxpew of early 19th-century date.

The acquisition of a bell was proposed in 1815, but the large bell hanging in the steeple was cast by Mears and Stainbank, London, in 1859, and recast ten years later. In the Laing Library and Museum, Newburgh, there is a painted chest inscribed 'Newburgh Friendly Society', probably of mid-19th century date, with a naive view of the town-house on the inside of its lid.


Although Newburgh had a tolbooth as early as the middle of the 16th century, in 1796 the town council considered that they required 'a new Tolbooth and Council House' and resolved to obtain government assistance by petitioning the Secretary of State for War, Henry Dundas. A 'Tenement of Houses and Croft of Land' was acquired for the purpose in 1800, but work did not begin until 1808, when a loan of £500 was raised to finance the building. Plans were prepared by John Speed, 'mason in Newburgh', who received a payment of £5 'as the same (plan) had been approved of and another tradesman appointed to execute it'. Materials from the old town-house were to be re-used in the new building or sold by roup. The building was ready for glazing in 1810, but the 'large room' or 'Town Hall ' was not completely fitted up until 1815.

About 1830 two debtors' cells to the rear of the ground floor, which were seldom used, were converted into a small corn-market, but one of the front rooms, which for a few years had housed a library, became a second criminal cell. Further alterations took place in 1887-8, but little work of this period is evident except for the balustraded steps and landing of the N front.

Information from ‘Tolbooths and Town-Houses: Civic Architecture in Scotland to 1833’ (1996).


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