Area focus: Reflect on life in Fife

Sarah Devine explores St Andrews and declares it to be a small town with a big character

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

The renowned home of golf that boasts one of the world’s most famous universities – and the oldest in Scotland – as well as spectacular panoramic sea views, St Andrews in Fife is a small town with a big character.

Its cobbled streets, historic alleyways and grand Georgian and Victorian architecture styles are particular draws for prospective property buyers, and homes in this highly desirable town average £321,010, according to Zoopla.

With a population in excess of 17,000, St Andrews has plenty to offer when it comes to the latest trends in retail and leisure, and its central ancient walls and ruined cathedral – dating back to 1158 – are reminders of its medieval past.

Legend has it that St Andrews was named after Scotland’s patron saint whose remains were brought to the area from Greece by St Rule in AD345, surviving a shipwreck near the town’s harbour.

The Cathedral of St Andrew was once Scotland’s centre of the Catholic Church in the 12th Century, boosting the town’s economy.

Indeed, St Andrews became a booming market town and a burgh which additionally thrived on its rich fishing industry.

The working harbour has been at the heart of the community for centuries, and fishing boats still land their catch here.

This part of St Andrews is home to a collection of colourful townhouses and flats, with the cathedral’s picturesque St Rule’s Tower providing a backdrop. Due to the scenic location, it has become a hotspot for investment buyers looking for properties to use as short-term lets.

As well as its facinating history, idyllic seaside views and quaint coastal architecture, St Andrews, as the disputed home of golf, also draws afficiandos of that sport in their thousands from all corners of the globe.

St Andrews Links golf course is one of the world’s most famous and dates back to the 1400s. The whole of Fife attracts keen golfers all year round, but winning the British Open at the town’s Old Course – the world’s oldest – is considered the peak of a golfer’s career.

The Hamilton Grand is a landmark architectural gem overlooking the green of the 18th-century course.

It opened as the Grand Hotel in 1895 and between 1949 and 2006 it was used as halls of residence by the University of St Andrews. More recently, the building has been completely renovated and turned into luxury apartments, priced at more than £1.3 million, by its owners the US manufacturer Kohler & Co.

Architectural grandeur can be admired throughout St Andrews, which is twinned with the medieval French village of Loches. The town centre is a conservation area filled with 16th and 17th-century fishing cottages, and residential development outwith the medieval walls of the town did not happen until the late-1800s.

Hepburn Gardens, the main residential street adjacent to the town centre, is suited to buyers seeking a grand but more affordable option. Properties on this street sold for an average of £747,800 in the last year, according to Rightmove.

It was developed in the 1800s and 1900s and features Arts and Crafts villas and houses with Scots Baronial and Gothic influences, including turrets and small towers.

A more modern development of semi-detached and terraced houses can be found to the south of the town in and around Lamond Drive.

Further development of the seaside town is on the horizon as planning permission has been granted for 900 new homes by developer St Andrews West.

Schools in the local catchment area include three primaries and one secondary school. They are Canongate Primary School, Lawhead Primary School, Greyfriars RC Primary School and Madras College.

St Leonards School is a co-educational all-through independent school, which offers its pupils day and boarding options in the town.

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