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Culross Palace

Culross Palace
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Culross Palace

The most important of the many fine buildings in the village of Culross in W Fife, Culross Palace features distinctive orange-coloured limewash, crow-stepped gables and terracotta pantiled roofs. It is not however a palace, rather it was built from 1597 for the wealthy merchant and early coal-owner Sir George Bruce (1550 - 1625). King James VI did visit briefly in 1617. As a merchant's house of this period, it is unique.

The original three-storey T-plan block, which now forms the western range, was not grand, although featuring richly-carved wallhead dormer windows, the middle one incorporating the initials 'GB' and the date 1597. This was extended by a separate accommodation block to the north, dated 1611 and now showing the initials 'SGB', Bruce having gained his knighthood by that date. He acquired some of the material used in its construction through trade across the North Sea; including pine from the Baltic and floor tiles and glass from The Netherlands. Further blocks were added in the later 17th century. The original interiors feature fine decorative murals, painted ceilings and early 18th century panelling. The rooms contain 17th and 18th century furniture, together with a fine collection of Staffordshire and Scottish pottery.

The Palace was sold by Douglas Cochrane, 12th Earl of Dundonald (1852 - 1935), to the National Trust for Scotland in 1932, their first building in Culross and the springboard from which the regeneration of the village began. The Trust gave the property to the State but it was returned in 1991. It has been A-listed since 1972, and was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1992.

The entrance to the courtyard at the front of the Palace is through iron gates supported on ashlar gatepiers, with ball finials. Excavations in this courtyard have led to the restoration of an ornamental path and the footings of a former east range. At the rear a 17th century garden has been re-instated, with raised beds, a covered walkway, hurdle fencing and a flowery mead (a lawn rich in wild flowers). It features a variety of unusual vegetables, herbs and perennials, which all of which would have been available at the time.


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