History in Structure

Monimail Tower

A Category A Listed Building in Monimail, Fife

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Latitude: 56.314 / 56°18'50"N

Longitude: -3.1357 / 3°8'8"W

OS Eastings: 329839

OS Northings: 714092

OS Grid: NO298140

Mapcode National: GBR 2B.63H5

Mapcode Global: WH6QW.SKZG

Plus Code: 9C8R8V77+JP

Entry Name: Monimail Tower

Listing Name: Monimail Tower or Palace (Also Known As Cardinal Beaton's Tower) and Melville House Garden Walls

Listing Date: 1 March 1984

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 349132

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB15498

Building Class: Cultural

Also known as: Palace of Monimail

ID on this website: 200349132

Location: Monimail

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Howe of Fife and Tay Coast

Parish: Monimail

Traditional County: Fife

Tagged with: Tower Episcopal palace

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Dated 1578 on parapet (lower part possibly earlier). Four-storey square-plan small tower, with basement. Fragment of larger, earlier structure, (ragged stonework at south east and south west where latter adjoined) and now incorporated in garden walls, with former garden buildings to south, and slate-roofed lean-to shed against east wall. Tower rubble-built, with ashlar dressings. Three doors to north elevation; square-headed and mostly roll-moulded windows to each elevation, some blocked, some altered; single central Gothic-traceried window high on east and west walls (nests in parapet above); blocked segmental opening to south over basement. Moulded cill band to north and to west elevations, additional string to west. Continuous corbelled parapet with gun ports, gargoyles and angle turrets; octagonal turrets (each with sculptured head in circular panel) over south east and north east latter above newel stair and capped by pointed, faceted low spire with lucarnes (now lowered in height, with lead covering) and 'sunburst' finial (circular turrets over remaining corners). Single coped wall-head stack; flat roof. Interior is altered; basement has later vaulting, and apparently used as an ice house, probably in the 19th century. Upper chamber has 18th century pine panelling. Two large rectangular-plan garden enclosures in L-plan and sharing common wall dated 1825; larger enclosure is to south of Monimail Tower, smaller to west of tower. Rubble-built, with ashlar dressings and flat coping, stepped to slopes.

Statement of Interest

The bishop of St Andrews has a residence at Monimail since the 14th century tradition ascribed this tower to Cardinal Beaton (assassinated 1546), but the charter granting Monimail House to James Balfour (later to Pittendreich) describes it as being then ruinous (1564); the tower bears the initials and arms of Balfour of Pittendreich and is dated 1578, the year it was granted to James Balfour, son of the abvoe so the restoration/rebuilding work must in fact have been done for the younger James Balfour. 1969 drawing included in Gillespie and Scott drawings index in SNMR. The Agricultural survey of Fife (1800) states that this tower had "evidently been a part of a much more extensive building, the remains of which can, at this day, be easily traced". Small rubble- built vaulted structure (possible icehouse?) to north is open at west end, and has gun-port on south wall. Dated lintel, in common wall, also inscribed with initials of David, Earl of Leven and Melville.

Minor update to listed building record (2023)

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