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Hill Of Tarvit, Mansionhouse

Country House (20th Century), Country House (17th Century), Sundial (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Hill Of Tarvit, Mansionhouse

Classification Country House (20th Century), Country House (17th Century), Sundial (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Wemyss Hall; Wemysshall House

Canmore ID 31503

Site Number NO31SE 22

NGR NO 37898 11851

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NO31SE 22.00 37894 11860

NO 3789 1184) Hill of Tarvit AD. 1696 (NAT)

OS 6" map (1938).

NO31SE 22.01 NO 3790 1190 Water Tank

NO31SE 22.02 NO 37878 11876 Garden

NO31SE 22.03 Cancelled

NO31SE 22.04 NO 378 118 Convalescent Hut

NO31SE 22.05 NO 37962 11899 Laundry

NO31SE 22.06 NO 3806 1191 Estate Cottage

NO31SE 22.07 NO 38009 11849 Farmsteading; Stables

NO31SE 22.08 NO 38009 11811 Stable Lodge

NO31SE 22.09 NO 3735 1154 to NO 3786 1182 Road

NO31SE 22.10 NO 38116 11946 Kitchen Garden

NO31SE 22.11 NO 37912 11918 Sundial

ARCHITECT: Sir Robert Lorimer, 1907-8 (restoration).

(Undated) information in NMRS.

'Hill of Tarvit, formerly Wemyss Hall - This mansion was built in 1696 fromplans by Sir william Bruce of Kinross. It has been almost completgely altered and modernised.'

RCAHMS 1933.

Similar information - but no mention of the name 'Hill of Tarvit'.

A H Millar 1895.

'Hill of Tarvit' has a notice outside stating that 'In 1906 the late Mr N B Sharp had it rebuilt to designs by Sir Robert Lorimer'.

The west front of the house appears to be the 1906 addition, and the remainder of the building has been completely modernised and shows no traces of antiquity. The exterior has been harled.

The house was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1949 and is now used as a convalescent home.

Visited by OS (D S) 1 November 1956.

Above confirmed.

Visited by OS (R D L) 21 May 1964.

As described above.

Visited by OS (R D) 31 March 1967.

Hill of Tarvit ceased to be a Marie Curie Foundation convalescent home in 1977.

Information from GJ Douglas (RCAHMS), 14 September 1993.

NO 3798 1189 An archaeological watching brief was conducted on a building known as the Tool Shed during the excavation of two drainage trenches under the eaves of the building, and the removal of soil build-up against the northern wall. Excavation removed a considerable amount of soil, but no archaeological features were found as soil removal was limited to the more modern build-up.

Sponsor: National Trust for Scotland

D Hind 1998


Field Visit (8 June 1925)

Hill of Tarvit, formerly Wemyss Hall.

This mansion was built in 1696 from plans by Sir William Bruce of Kinross (1). It has been almost completely altered and modernised.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 8 June 1925.

(1) Swan, History of Fife (1840), ii, p. 39.

Publication Account (1987)

When the site of Hill ofTarvit was purchased by a new owner in 1904, it was occupied by Wemyss Hall, a small house, dating from 1696 and attributed to Sir William Bruce (see no. 37), with two 19th century wings to the rear. Sir Robert Lorimer was commissioned to build a new house of similar character to Wemyss Hall but larger, with well windowed lofty rooms capable of accommodating the new owners collection of French furniture. There was no conflict of interests in these requirements as most 17th century Scottish architecture, particularly that produced by Bruce, was influenced by French styles.

Lorimer chose to retain the two 19th century wings and, by roofing the space between them with glass was able to create a compact service unit incorporating the kitchen and servants' hall. The new house was wrapped around this core on the south and west The south front formed the principal facade with the main rooms facing a splendid view. The west faced the approach to the house and contained the entrance.

The interiors of Hill ofTarvit were devised as a series of settings for the client's collection of antique furniture. This iRcluded Flemish tapestries, Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture, Scottish and English 18th and 19th century furniture, a collection of paintings, and a fIreplace from Scotstarvit Tower (no. 47). The diversity of these pieces results in some very imaginative designs and shows Lorimer at his best.

One of the most interesting aspects of this house is the service accommodation which shows the range of rooms and equipment necessary for the smooth running of a well-to-do household immediately prior to World War 1.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Reference (February 2013)

A two-storey house with two main frontages with harled walls and dressed stone rusticated quoins, window margins and other details under slated roofs. The main front faces south overlooking the terraced gardens and parkland and is symmetrically arranged with a central 5-bay set-back, incorporating tall French windows, between wings with shallow bay windows. The symmetrical arrangement belies the internal disposition of rooms, with the off-centre middle chimney the only discordant element at roof level. The west front comprises a 4-bay section at the south and a lower square block to the north (billiard room) with a single storey loggia with three round-ached openings positioned centrally facing onto the integrally-designed forecourt.

The house with its approaches and terraces was built to the designs of Robert Lorimer from 1905-07 and incorporates elements of a classical mansion of 1696 (Wemyss Hall) which previously occupied the site footprint and which has been attributed to William Bruce. Lorimer retained the three-storey Victorian rear wings that had served as servants quarters and left “the west wings mid-19th century gableted dormerheads alone, adding piended bell cast-roofed dormers to the east, and covering the court between with a glass roof.”

Various external details of the building relieve the restrained French style of the Lorimer elevations and reinforce the strong relationship between the house and garden terraces: the loggia itself, a balcony at the South-west bedroom above a ground floor bay window both overlooking the Sunk Garden, a doocot high up on the east face of the west bay, and a statue of Flora, sundial and inscription in the centre of the south facade, aligned with the axial terrace steps. Intimate garden spaces (Billiard Room courtyard, Slip Garden) tucked in beside the house and an ornamental well continue the links between building and landscape.

The sun-dial on the the south elevation is inscribed with:

LAT•56°18’ LONG•12MINW •



Information from NTS

Watching Brief (29 July 2014 - 1 August 2014)

GUARD Archaeology was commissioned by The National Trust for Scotland to undertake an archaeological watching brief during ground-breaking works required for the installation of a British Telecom cable duct at Hill of Tarvit Mansion House near Cupar in Fife. The excavation works encountered no finds of archaeological significance.

Information from OASIS ID: guardarc1-186704 (D Allan) 2014.


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