Law's Close

Passers-by need to look carefully to realise that the building at 339-343 High Street in Kirkcaldy (S Fife) is an A-listed merchant's house dating from 1590, although the orange limewash applied during its restoration perhaps gives a clue. Law's Close comprises three storeys and an attic, and is said to be one of the best surviving examples of its type in Scotland. The house was originally timber-framed, with jettied upper floors, and was built for a merchant and ship-owning family called Law. The exterior was modified in the 17th C. and the property was divided into flats with ground floor shops c.1800. The original internal stone spiral staircase was removed c.1840 and replaced with the present external stair-tower to the rear. The house was acquired by the Scottish Historical Buildings Trust in 1986, which has carried out a restoration in several phases. Wall paintings were uncovered on the original lime-plaster walls during the work, including the Kirkcaldy Burgh Arms and a representation of a sailing ship, possibly commemorating the arrival of Anne of Denmark in Scotland in 1589. These paintings had been covered by wood-panelling as tastes changed in the later 17th C. The first floor features fine painted ceilings, with illustrations of fruit, foliage and geometrical figures. On the second floor a fine fireplace and wood panelling with an elaborate graining decoration have been retained.

The building has now been converted to provide two shop units at ground-floor level, with office space on the floors above. The former bakery in the courtyard to the rear has been reused as an education room, with a permanent exhibition, and a traditional rigg garden developed beyond. The completed project was opened by local Member of Parliament Gordon Brown (b.1951).

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