The Fife home of a racehorse trainer was a dead cert for a former publican who wanted to stay in the saddle
We all have different wish-lists when house-hunting and some are harder to fulfil than others, but for Jill Philip there was one item that was right at the top of her list when looking for a property four years ago, and that was space for her two horses, Dupes and Olifia.
So the obvious incentive for Jill to view this property, just north of Ladybank in Fife, was that it had previously been home to a racehorse trainer who had stables here.
Cunnoquhie Cottage includes just over 25 acres of land, with grazing of around 17 acres, and the property is surrounded by woodland, so it feels sheltered and private.
There’s a large horse yard offering 16 stables, with a substantial tack room with a laundry, a hay store behind and another four stables.
There’s also an arena with a circular training ring. Properties like this simply don’t come on to the market very often.
“It was daunting to take this on with the land and the different aspects, but the stable facilities were incredible,” says Jill.
“The hacking around here is perfect as well, as you’re on farm tracks and you don’t need to go near the roads.”
From the start, Jill knew that she would need to do some work to both the house and the stables, but she didn’t mind taking on a project – particularly when the house didn’t require any significant changes other than decoration and design to better suit Jill’s taste.
The first task was to make some improvements to the stables and also to fence the paddocks, and there are now eight horses at Cunnoquhie – Jill’s own and six others.
It’s clear that moving here was about the lifestyle this property offered Jill, both with her horses and her dog Betsy, and as a home for her family.
Jill has four sons, and one, Henry, was initially living at home and helped with some of the work done here.
This move was also a new beginning for Jill, who had previously run The Ship Inn in Elie with her ex-husband, Richard.
Cunnoquhie Cottage started as a pair of stone gamekeepers’ cottages on the original Cunnoquhie Estate, and today’s property was originally extended and remodelled in the mid-1980s.
Standing in a slightly elevated position, the house has open southerly aspects over its own land and extends to just under 2,900 square feet.
The accommodation is at ground level, with one very large bedroom on the first floor which Jill has used as a sewing studio – this light-filled space is ideal for her curtain-making business.
Arriving at the house, you enter into a large hallway with the bedrooms on one side and the living space on the other.
The house is large enough to have flexibility in how the spaces are used as there are five bedrooms on the ground level, but the two smaller ones also work as a snug space or study.
Bedrooms three and four share a bathroom, and a large shower room serves the master bedroom, but is also ideally placed for the two smaller bedrooms.
On the other side of the hallway there’s a large sitting room, dining room and kitchen, along with a utility room and side hallway with WC.
Sliding doors open between the sitting room and dining room, and a further set of double doors open between the dining room and kitchen, so you can either have one big open plan space or close the doors for a cosier mood.
The period wooden doors suit the character of the house and complement the stripped floor in the dining room and the lovely timber fire surround in the sitting room.
Jill added the wood-burning stoves in the sitting room and the snug, and specified an Everhot range cooker for the kitchen, which she redesigned with freestanding units for a look that’s both contemporary and country-styled.
The bathroom and shower room were also refitted to have a contemporary feel, with a large walk-in shower in the latter and a streamlined bath in the former.
In both spaces Jill added tongue-and-groove to match the age and character of the house.
The interior was also redecorated throughout using a palette from Farrow & Ball, and the sitting room is particularly beautiful with its mellow grey walls against the wooden accents.
“The light is just lovely in this room,” says Jill. “This grey just didn’t look the same anywhere else in the house.”
Henry was involved in refitting the existing summer house, which he designed as a bar using old reclaimed wood from the stables and whisky barrels.
The sheltered cottage garden faces south and west, while the enclosed inner garden has a mix of trees and shrubs and a summer house.
There’s also an outer garden with several specimen trees, and a vegetable garden.
One of the highlights of this property is the wider location. Cunnoquhie Cottage sits just west of Cupar and St Andrews is about 15 miles to the east while Perth is a 40-minute drive to the north west.
Edinburgh is commutable, either by train from Cupar or Ladybank, or by road via the Queensferry Crossing, while the villages of Fife’s East Neuk are a short drive away.
The wide open spaces of the Lomond Hills are nearby, and, of course, Fife is known both for its golf courses and its beautiful sandy beaches, from Kingsbarns and Elie to St Andrews and Tentsmuir.
It may seem surprising that Jill completed all these changes in just three months, but it’s clear that she approached this project with vision and determination.
Indeed, last year, drawing on her vast experience with The Ship Inn, Jill opened Milly’s Kitchen, a café and catering service in Cupar that she still owns.
Cunnoquhie Cottage is now on the market as Jill is intending to downsize. Whoever takes on this property next will not only be inheriting a comfortable and spacious home and fantastic equestrian facilities, but also the lifestyle that comes with them.
Cunnoquhie Cottage is on the market for offers over £695,000 (for sale as a whole) with Galbraith.
Words: Fiona Reid