Melville House

Melville House (1697-1703)
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Melville House (1697-1703)

Melville House, which is located at Monimail, 2½ miles (4 km) north of Ladybank, was built in 1697 by James Smith (c.1645 - 1731) for George, 1st Earl Melville, incorporating the 14th Century Monimail Tower. The H-plan house, with its pioneering Neo-Palladian facade, was regarded as the finest in Fife and stands testament to Smith's skill as an architect. Some controversy exists as to whether Sir William Bruce (1630 - 1710) was involved in the design, but it is most likely that this was all due to Smith.

During World War II, the house became a training base for a secret auxiliary unit, who would have defended the country had it been invaded, then a billet for Polish troops. In 1949 the house was sold by the Melville family and many of the sumptuous furnishings were removed or sold, for example, the Melville State Bed was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Thereafter, the house became a boy's school and a home for the handicapped until 2000 when it was put up for sale by Fife Council. Bought by a property developer and sold once again in 2003, an estimated £2 million was spent restoring it to its former glory. It was repossessed by a South African bank and sold once again in 2009.

An unusual doo-cot located a half-mile (1 km) to the south southeast of the house was restored in 2007.

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