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File:Balcaskie House.jpg
Balcaskie from the south.

Balcaskie is a 17th-century country house in Fife, Scotland. It lies around 2 km north of St Monans, and is notable chiefly as the home and early work of architect Sir William Bruce. Robert Lorimer, an admirer of Bruce, called the house "the ideal of what a Scottish gentleman's home ought to be".[1] Balcaskie remains the seat of the Chief of the Name and Arms of Anstruther,[2] Tobias Alexander Anstruther of that Ilk [3]


Balcaskie was built before 1629, as the home of the Moncrieffs of that Ilk, and was an L-plan house of four storeys. In 1665 the estate was bought by Sir William Bruce, who set about enlarging the house between 1668 and 1674. Bruce planned the new house himself, and employed John Hamilton as mason, and Andrew Waddell as wright. The house was expanded from an L-plan to an almost symmetrical U-plan, with the original building at the west end. The north front was given matching crow-step gables, with a balustraded two-storey central section. In addition, Bruce added tall corner towers to each angle. These had French-inspired details such as rusticated quoins. Bruce may have built the curving wing-walls and pavilions to the north front, however these have also been attributed to a later building phase.

The estate was sold in 1684 to Sir Thomas Steuart, when Bruce moved to his new home at Kinross House. In 1698 it changed hands again, becoming the property of Sir Robert Anstruther, whose son Philip undertook works in the mid-18th century, including heightening the central block. It was now that the wing walls and pavilions were added, according to John Gifford. Further alterations were made by William Burn in 1830-32, including a porch and new windows, and a stable block. In 1856-58 David Bryce worked at Balcaskie, adding several baronial features.


The gardens, to the south of the house, were laid out by William Bruce and are aligned on the Bass Rock. The terraces and vista are inspired by French Baroque gardens, such as Vaux-le-Vicomte. The gardens were altered in the 18th century, and restored in 1826-7 by William Burn and William Sawrey Gilpin. Parterres were laid out in the 1840s by W. A. Nesfield.


  1. Lorimer, Robert Architectural Review, November 1899, cited in Glendinning et al., p.340
  • Gifford, John (1988) The Buildings of Scotland:Fife, Penguin
  • Glendinning, Miles, MacInnes, Ranald, & MacKechnie, Aonghus (1996) A History of Scottish Architecture, Edinburgh University Press

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