History in Structure

The Study, The Cross, Culross

A Category A Listed Building in Culross, Fife

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Latitude: 56.0558 / 56°3'20"N

Longitude: -3.6286 / 3°37'42"W

OS Eastings: 298675

OS Northings: 685962

OS Grid: NS986859

Mapcode National: GBR 1R.QDRH

Mapcode Global: WH5QW.71CX

Plus Code: 9C8R394C+8H

Entry Name: The Study, The Cross, Culross

Listing Name: Culross, the Cross, the Study

Listing Date: 12 January 1972

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 359894

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB24045

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200359894

Location: Culross

County: Fife

Town: Culross

Electoral Ward: West Fife and Coastal Villages

Traditional County: Fife

Tagged with: House

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Circa 1610. 3-storey, 5-bay L-plan house; taller 3-storey stair tower to SW. Stone margins; harled rubble walls.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: asymmetrical elevation. Door at 3rd bay; 2 flanking windows. 4 1st floor windows. National Trust for Scotland (NTS) plaque above 3rd window. 3 catslide dormer windows partially in roof. Advanced stair tower to left; mid-level window to left between 1st and 2nd stage; corbelled upper stage with window to right. Ground floor door in right return; roll and hollow surround; mid-level stair between 3rd and 4th stage; catslide dormer window partially in roof at 4th stage. Slightly rounded chamfer to SW stair tower quoin.

W ELEVATION: stair tower to right; slight corbel at 3rd stage; window; corbelled 4th stage; catslide dormer roof partially in roof. Advanced curved; corbelled stair tower to left; stone corbel exposed; small stair window. House gable wall to left of stair tower; ground floor window to right.

N ELEVATION: small windows to 4th and 5th bays; door at 3rd; 2 larger windows to far right and far left. 1st floor door to right; 1st floor window to left. 3 catslide dormer windows, wholly in roof.

E ELEVATION: attached to 2 Tanhouse Brae.

Predominantly lattice glazing to upper sash, timber shutters below in windows to S. 4, 12 and 16-pane timber sash and case windows to N. Studded timber doors to S and E; tirling pins. Glazed door to N. Pitched roof; crowstepped gable ends; coped gable end stacks to house. Crowstepped gable ends to separate stair tower; coped S gable end stack; finial to N gable end. Clay pantiles throughout. Cobbled area outside principal elevation with stone setts opposite S facing door.

INTERIOR: modernised accommodation to ground and 2nd floor (not seen, 2001) with central connecting staircase. Stone turnpike stair in stair tower. Moulded doorway leads into 1st floor room from turnpike; arch above doorway inside the room; timber boarded door; stock lock. Moulded fireplace in W wall; chimney crane attached within. Niche to left of fireplace with stone basin. 3 17th century Dutch tiles to right of fireplace. Concave section of N wall to far left; doorway to right; large archway (blocked) to centre, smaller archway (blocked) to right (former window recesses). Windows within 2 arched recesses to S wall. Early 17th century oak panelling to E wall; lockers with lids to base form bench (partially missing); fluted pilasters to central section arcaded between each pilaster by 2 semi-circular headed arches with central carved pendent. Corniced section above with inlaid decoration. Plain frieze above divided by short, fluted pilasters. The panelling continues on the door to left. Ceiling brightly painted with fruit, flowers and motifs (1960's reconstruction). Door leads into small E room; timber panelled bed recess in N wall (panelling forms base of bed); window within arched recess above bed. Timber panelled door to niche to right. Left stone surround and lintel of former fireplace in E wall to left. Modern walls inserted within room. Turnpike stair leads to small study at upper stage of stairtower. Timber boarded door; sloping head to door and doorway. Pitched ceiling within study; windows in each elevation but north. Fireplace in S wall.

Statement of Interest

In 1217 Culross Abbey was founded and in 1490 Culross was made a Burgh of Barony by James IV, dependent on Culross Abbey. In 1575 the abbey sold the lease of its disused colliery to George Bruce, who exploited the coal (including the first underwater mine seam) and developed the salt panning industry to create a large and profitable business. He was influential in getting James VI to grant Culross the royal burgh status in the late 16th century, so that he could trade abroad and enjoyed 50 years of prosperous trading in coal and salt. Iron baking girdles were a famous Culross product and Culross had the monopoly on their manufacture from the late 16th century until 1727. Much rebuilt in the 17th century, Culross retains many typical burgh features including the church, tolbooth and mercat cross. The more modest, domestic buildings also carry features common to the Culross vernacular architecture; namely the cellars at ground floor, forestairs to accommodation above, 2-leaf front doors, crowstepped gables and narrow linear tofts behind many of the houses. The wane of the burgh's success began with the flooding of George Bruce's moat pit in 1625. Salt panning declined in the 1660's due to cheaper and purer foreign salt and girdle making also lost out to cheaper competition, especially from the Carron Iron Company. After the collapse of the coal mining industry, merchants made boots and shoes which were exported in large quantities to the American colonies via Glasgow. The tanner's house is situated at the top of Tanhouse Brae (hence the road's name); with the shoemaker's cottage a few doors down. After the American Revolution in 1776, however, the Culross shoe industry also went into decline. The harbour was filled in to form the Sandhaven in the late 19th century and the population of Culross decreased until it had dropped from several thousand people in the 17th century to only 578 in 1951. By the late 19th century many of the buildings were condemned and faced demolition until the National Trust for Scotland began what became an extensive restoration programme which started with the Palace in the 1930's It is because of the economic downturn in Culross that the buildings survived so well without great loss or alteration. This large collection of related vernacular buildings dating from the 17th and 18th century is one of the best examples of a small Scottish burgh and is of national importance.

The Study: The advanced stair tower with corbelled upper stage and timber panelling in the 1st floor room are of particaular note here. The building also retains features which are commonly found in Culross including crowstepped gables; pantiled roofs and original fireplaces. The study at the top of the stair tower (from which the house takes its name) was possibly also a look-out. It is said to have been used by Bishop Leighton of Dunblane in the late 17th century who reputedly stayed in Mid Causeway (see separate lists for 5 and 7 Mid Causeway). The origin for the concave hollow in the N wall in the 1st floor room is uncertain. The painted ceiling is a reconstruction of the original decoration which was thought too damaged to restore. It was re-painted in 1966-1967 by Alexander McNeish under the direction of Ian Hodkinson (Gifford). The panelling is thought to have covered all four walls (Gillespie) and is inlaid with the date and initials 'IA 1633 AP'. This date and the initials were also carved in the lintel of the 3rd bay door (principal elevation) which was formerly a corniced doorpiece with fluted pilasters (removed sometime after the 1930's). There was also a similar doorpiece to 2 Tanhouse Brae. The initials relate to John Adam and Alison Primrose. John Adam was a wealthy merchant who lived here (NTS information). The Study is located half way up the hill between the abbey and the Sandhaven (a former harbour) and may well have been used as a look-out tower. Ian G Lindsay and Partners renovated the study in the 1950's for the National Trust.

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