Prestige property: Hosting the great and the good
Myres Castle near Auchtermuchty in Fife is a remarkable edifice with a strong associations with royalty over its centuries, as well as some of Scotland’s most important literary and religious figures.
The land on which it was built was originally owned by James V, who used it as a wild boar hunting estate for the Royal Family.
The house dates from 1530 when it was built by John Scrimgeour, the then Master of Work for royal buildings, who served both James V and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Scrimgeour’s projects include work at Holyroodhouse, Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Falkland Palace, and Linlithgow Palace.
For his own family, he created a traditional Z-plan castle at Myres with two storeys, towers and gun loops. Another storey and a tower were added in 1611.
In the 1700s, now under the ownership of the Moncrieff family who numbered members of parliament for Fife in their ranks, the north wing was constructed, along with the present entrance.
Professor Bruce, King’s Printer to George III, bought the neighbouring Falkland Palace estate along with Myres as its dower house in 1820. During his tenure, Sir Walter Scott visited several times.
In 1887, the castle was sold to James Fairlie, chamberlain to three popes. The walled garden was laid out in the style of a Vatican garden on the suggestion of a visiting cardinal.
Henry and Amanda Barge have owned Myres since 2013. Amanda says: “I think it was quite a surprise to us when we bought it, but we fell in love with it. Henry had just sold his business, but first and foremost we bought it as a family home.
“However, after we had our first amazing Christmas and New Year here, we did slightly panic and thought ‘Oh my goodness, what do we do now?’”
The castle had been rewired, replumbed and nine new bathrooms were installed by the previous owners in 1999, so all the fabric work had been completed.
After letting the castle during The Open in St Andrews in 2015, the Barges began to get enquiries about holding weddings on the estate.
A successful business has since sprung up, with Henry and Amanda able to choose how many weekends they will host events each year. The couple have held writers, well being and yoga retreats here too.
It is a stunning house and garden, but perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Myres is the evidence in its walls of the architectural changes it has seen down the centuries. Each style is built on that of the last, without obscuring the past.
Amanda says: “Down in the dungeons, you have the old vaulted rooms and stone steps, and we can see the original Z-plan, and then the tower dates from the 1600s.
“The drawing room is Georgian – it was designed to be the largest drawing room in Fife – with huge windows, and elsewhere we have big Victorian bay windows, making it a really sunny castle even though it is so old. The different styles all add something, but work together seamlessly.”
Despite its size, Myres is still very much a family home. Amanda says: “In the last nine years we have only had two weeks here on our own – during lockdown our three grown-up children decamped from London, along with two friends, so it hasn’t ever felt like rattling around.”
The Barges have carried out their own improvements, the biggest being the addition of a biomass boiler which heats not only the castle, but a three-bedroom cottage, a one-bedroom lodge, a shepherd’s hut, a purpose-built events barn, and a small swimming pool.
And the couple have kept a real focus on the spectacular gardens, improving and planting under the supervision of an expert in the field.
Amanda says: “A tree on the front lawn was planted by Mary, Queen of Scots, so there’s lovely royal connections everywhere you look.”
For more information, contact Savills on 0131-247 3738.
Myres Castle, Auchtermuchty, Cupar, Fife, is priced at offers over £3.5m.