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Anstruther Easter, Backdykes, Melville Manse

Manse (16th Century)

Site Name Anstruther Easter, Backdykes, Melville Manse

Classification Manse (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Parish Manse

Canmore ID 34066

Site Number NO50SE 15

NGR NO 56805 03625

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Anstruther Easter
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO50SE 15 56805 03625.

(NO 5680 0362) Manse (NR)

OS 25" map (1966)

This manse was built in 1590-1 for the then minister, James Melville. Originally, it was on the L-plan, but the main block was extended to the W in the 17th century, making it T-shaped, with a narrow, corbelled stair-turret in the re-entrant. The main block is three-storeyed. The gable of the wing bears, high up, a panel inscribed "THE WATCH TOWR" (sic). The walls are harled, with dressed stone margins to the windows, some of which have been enlarged.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 1927; N Tranter 1963

The manse appears to be as described but is currently boarded up and lies in a high-walled garden with locked gates.

Visited by OS (JP) 29 May 1974

Architecture Notes

see also NO50SE 23 ANSTRUTHER EASTER, The Manse Doocot


Field Visit (23 June 1927)

Anstruther Easter Manse.

The building of the manse in Anstruther Easter was undertaken at Whitsunday in the year 1590, and by the following March the minister, Mr. James Melville, was resident therein (1). It cost rather more than 3500 merks. On plan it consists of an oblong main block, lying approximately east and west and measuring externally 21 feet by 62 feet 8 inches, the 17 feet at the western end being a 17th-century extension. On the south is a wing 12 ¾ feet broad, projecting 10 ½ feet from the main wall, and containing a turnpike-stair in the lower part and chambers in the upper. The turnpike does not go farther than the first floor, and the upper chambers are entered from a turret-stair corbelled out within the eastern re-entrant angle. The main block is three-storeyed and contains on the ground floor, within the original portion, three vaulted chambers and a passage and, within the extension, an unvaulted chamber. On the first floor there are two rooms above the vaults, and this arrangement is repeated on the upper floor, at which level there is a contemporary fireplace in the gable. The turret-stair is gutted.

The elevations are plain. The walls are of rubble, harled. The voids are exposed and have dressed margins rounded at the arris. Some of the windows have been enlarged. The upperpart of the south wing oversails on a continuous corbel-course. The gable of the wing bears, high up, a panel inscribed, THE WATCH TOWR (sic).

HISTORICAL NOTE. At the date of building, Anstruther Easter was still part of the parish of Kilrenny (see No. 27), at which place was the church, though the minister resided in the former town. Melville himself provided the money for the manse, the parish contributing only about 3000 ‘sleds’ of stones and fourteen or fifteen chalders of lime (1). The house was thus his own property and was sold by his grandson to Sir William Anstruther. But in 1713, Sir John Anstruther made an exchange with the Town Council, and the house again became the manse (2).

RCAHMS 1933, visited 23 June 1927.

(1) Autobiography and Diary of James Melville (Wodrow Society), p. 6. (2) East Neuk of Fife, p.363.

Photographic Survey (July 1963)

Photographic survey of buildings in Anstruther Easter, Fife, by the Ministry of Work/Scottish National Buildings Record in July 1963.


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