The historic Old Kirk House in Dunfermline has had more than one famous resident, discovers Kirsty McLuckie
Old Kirk House is the former manse to Dunfermline Abbey which was built between 1814 and 1816 and altered and enlarged in 1836.
In a beautiful position in its own walled garden, it has an interesting history.
The manse was constructed after 11 years of court action by the then minister, the Rev Allan McLean. The architect was Alexander Laing of Edinburgh.
It is now category B listed along with its gateway and high stone boundary walls and is in the centre of Dunfermline just south of its historic abbey, adjoining Pittencrieff Park and adjacent to the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum.
In more recent times it was the former home of musician Stuart Adamson of Big Country fame.
Fiona Stocks bought it eight and a half years ago. Originally from the West Coast, she was working in Edinburgh as an actuary and hadn’t thought about a move across the bridge, when the house came on the market.
She says: “We went to see it and absolutely fell in love with it, and we found that the commute isn’t that bad at all.”
Since taking over, the family have done a substantial amount of work to the building.
Fiona says: “Quite a lot of the work involved projects which you can’t see but were absolutely vital to preserve the fabric of the building.”
The work was a big undertaking, all the more impressive when you realise that the family included two small children, Caitlin, now aged 11 and Megan, eight.
Fiona says: “Megan was only a few weeks old when we moved in.”
She says: “We have refurbished all the windows, with the glazing replaced so they aren’t draughty, which has made a huge difference as before we weren’t able to open them.
“We have essentially replaced the central heating as well, as there was a problem meaning that the top floor was never heated so we had to fit a second boiler.”
Such big undertakings necessitated knock-on work.
She says: “The boiler was down in the basement and the vents had wrecked the conservatory so both had to be tackled.
“The basement was crumbling and we wanted to put a gym in there, so we had the whole room replastered and then discovered there was asbestos in the ceiling so that had to be taken out and decontaminated.”
Fiona then spent a year restoring the beams by hand, but the result is an amazing gym and a photographic dark room at basement level.
The ground floor has a beautifully proportioned dining room and sitting room on either side of the front door, plus a study, dining kitchen, utility and boot room.
She says: “Upstairs, the main rooms were all fine, so it was a case of improving all the smaller rooms to make the house more comfortable and modern.”
Outside the garden at the front was well laid out but overgrown while the rest of the grounds and the driveway had to be relandscaped.
At the back is a one-bedroomed cottage. Fiona says: “When we first took over the mother of one of the last owners was living there and she stayed on and helped with the garden.
“It was her passion and she did so much that it is now just a case of keeping on top of the weeding.”
Picture: the Old Kirk cottage, Rettie
There is a sizeable hen house plus fruit trees, raised beds for strawberries and potatoes, plus a greenhouse for salad.
The pretty stone cottage is currently rented and is a very quaint property, with its own private garden.
The family also built a double garage in stone to match.
While Fiona didn’t realise how big a project the house and garden would be the project’s result is admirable.
She says: “Unfortunately I’m a perfectionist and I don’t see the point of doing something if it isn’t done properly.”
The result of a gem of a house, tucked in its own beautiful grounds, in the centre of Dunfermline.
The family are now downsizing and, while they would like a house that needs nothing doing to it, Fiona may be tempted by another project, should the right property come along.
She says: “I love what I have in this house, and I’d like to recreate it, just on a slightly smaller scale.”
As for its illustrious pop history, she says: “We pay homage, by blasting out Big Country at midnight on New Years’ Eve.”
The Old Kirk is on the market for offers over £890,000 with Rettie & Co.