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Fernie Castle

Country House (Period Unassigned), Hotel (Period Unassigned), Tower House (16th Century)

Site Name Fernie Castle

Classification Country House (Period Unassigned), Hotel (Period Unassigned), Tower House (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Fernie Castle Hotel; Fernie Castle Policies

Canmore ID 31598

Site Number NO31SW 1

NGR NO 31622 14783

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/31598

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NO31SW 1.00 31622 14783

(NO 3162 1476) Fernie Castle (NR)

OS 6" map, (1959).

NO31SW 1.01 NO 31874 14884 Stables, SE Block; Kennels

NO31SW 1.02 NO 31616 14809 Ice-house

NO31SW 1.03 NO 31909 14800 Walled Garden

NO31SW 1.04 NO 31477 14682 Bridge (Main Drive; Fernie Burn)

NO31SW 1.05 NO 31791 14959 Stables, NW Block

For associated dovecot (NO 31770 15004), see NO31NW 15.

Formerly entered under classification Castle.

Fernie Castle comprises a tall 16th century L-plan tower, unusually developed, to which considerable additions have been made in the late 17th century and later, the walls harled and yellow-washed.

The lands originally belonged to MacDuff, Earl of Fife, who traditionally had a castle on this site (A H Millar 1895) but by the 15th century were owned by the Fernies, who sold them to an Arnot in 1580. The style of architecture may indicate him to be the builder, but the little cross which very unusually crowns the gable of the stair-wing might well indicate a pre-Reformation date of erection in the early 16th century.

N Tranter 1962-70; A H Millar 1895; RCAHMS 1933.

Fernie Castle, still occupied, is as described above. Two incised crosses may be seen on the wall of the later addition built against the S wing, and there are two further crosses on the gables possibly suggesting its use as a religious establishment at some time.

Visited by OS (D S) 2 November 1956.

As described. Now a hotel.

Visited by OS (W D J) 18 May 1970.

Architecture Notes

Fernie Castle is a sixteenth century L-plan tower house, with a circular turret, corbelled to square at upper level, projecting from the north-west angle. This tower is of four storeys, with attics. In the early eighteenth century the Balfours of Fernie added a three storey extension to the east. This large extension, which provided suites of more comfortable accommodation, is still clearly visible and originally made no attempt to match the tower house. About 1815 Francis Balfour made ‘toy fort like’ additions including a porch to the stair tower, the historic entrance to the tower house. A single storey wing to the west, complete with a castellated parapet, was also added, which hid the service courtyard from view. His son, also Francis, employed Alexander Blyth around 1844–9 to remodel the eighteenth century wing to make it more sympathetic to the tower. This involved the addition of crowsteps to the east gable, a conical roofed tower at the north-east corner and a new front door. He also created a double drawing room on the first floor which survives. In the late twentieth century a circular ballroom was added to the rear for the hotel.

To the north-east of the castle is early nineteenth century stable block and mains steading, which consists of two classical courts with a quadrant linking wall between. These are set at a slight angle and present four pedimented gables to the castle. This grand neo-classical scheme was presumably commissioned by Francis Balfour, and its scale and form suggests that it was part of a much grander unrealised scheme for the development of the castle. These buildings have now been converted into housing. The walled garden also survives but now accommodates another dwelling.

The lands originally belonged to MacDuff, Earl of Fife, who, according to tradition, had a castle on this site (Millar 1895, 1, 203–6), but, by the fifteenth century, they were owned by the Fernies, who sold them to an Arnot of Newton in 1580. In the early seventeenth century an Arnot married an heiress of Balfour of Burleigh and changed his name to Balfour.

Information from RCAHMS (SG 2010)

See also: NO31NW 15 FERNIE CASTLE, Dovecot

Activities

Field Visit (25 June 1925)

Fernie Castle.

The castle, was still inhabited, is a much altered 16th century house standing on low ground some 3 ½ miles west of Cupar. The western end of the present mansion is the original structure. It consists of an oblong main block of four storeys, running east and west, with a rectangular wing, in which is the main staircase, jutting out to the south in alignment with the west gable. A tower, circular below and corbelled out to a rectangular plan at the top storey, projects from the north-western angle. The masonry is harled rubble. The interior has been modernised, and most of the windows have been enlarged. On the north and east are relatively modern extensions.

HISTORICAL NOTE.-The family of Fernie held the lands as early at least as the 15th century, Walter Fernie of that ilk being dead before 1496 (1). But in March 1510 the King set to Florentinus Adinulty the lands of "Ferny" in feu-farm, part of the reddendo or return being the building of an "adequate mansion (sufficientem mansionem) of stone and lime, with hall, chamber, granary, byre, stable, dovecot, orchards, gardens, and bee-hives, with hedges and a plantation of oaks" (2). Nevertheless in 1517 we have on record Andrew Fernie of that ilk, heir to the late William Fernie of that ilk (3), and in 1527-8 the lands were erected into the barony of Wester-Ferny in favour of this Andrew Fernie (4). Early in the 17th century an Arnot of Newton married the heiress of Balfour of Burleigh and assumed the name of Balfour ;their youngest daughter married the last Arnot of Fernie, but, through failure of this line, the property came to the (Arnot) Balfours.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 25 June 1925.

(1) Reg. Sec. Sig., i, No. 73. (2) Reg. Mag. Sig., s.a., No. 3430. (3) Sheriff Court Book of Fife (S.H.S.), pp. 73-4. (4) Reg. Mag. Sig., s.a ., No.549.

Publication Account (2010)

Fernie Castle is a sixteenth century L-plan tower house, with a circular turret, corbelled to square at upper level, projecting from the north-west angle. This tower is of four storeys, with attics. In the early eighteenth century the Balfours of Fernie added a three storey extension to the east. This large extension, which provided suites of more comfortable accommodation, is still clearly visible and originally made no attempt to match the tower house. About 1815 Francis Balfour made ‘toy fort like’ additions including a porch to the stair tower, the historic entrance to the tower house. A single storey wing to the west, complete with a castellated parapet, was also added, which hid the service courtyard from view. His son, also Francis, employed Alexander Blyth around 1844-9 to remodel the eighteenth century wing to make it more sympathetic to the tower. This involved the addition of crowsteps to the east gable, a conical roofed tower at the north-east corner and a new front door. He also created a double drawing room on the first floor which survives. In the late twentieth century a circular ballroom was added to the rear for the hotel.

To the north-east of the castle is early nineteenth century stable block and mains steading, which consists of two classical courts with a quadrant linking wall between. These are set at a slight angle and present four pedimented gables to the castle. This grand neo-classical scheme was presumably commissioned by Francis Balfour, and its scale and form suggests that it was part of a much grander unrealised scheme for the development of the castle. These buildings have now been converted into housing. The walled garden also survives but now accommodates another dwelling.

The lands originally belonged to MacDuff, Earl of Fife, who, according to tradition, had a castle on this site (Millar 1895, 1, 203 –6), but, by the fifteenth century, they were owned by the Fernies, who sold them to an Arnot of Newton in 1580. In the early seventeenth century an Arnot married an heiress of Balfour of Burleigh and changed his name to Balfour.

Information from ‘The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Commissioners’ Field Meeting 2010'.

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