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Dysart, Carmelite Monastery, Former Dysart House, with St Serf's Cave, Terraced Garden and Boundary Walls

A Category B Listed Building in Kirkcaldy, Fife

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Latitude: 56.1246 / 56°7'28"N

Longitude: -3.1224 / 3°7'20"W

OS Eastings: 330323

OS Northings: 693001

OS Grid: NT303930

Mapcode National: GBR 2C.L0GY

Mapcode Global: WH6RW.0BF3

Entry Name: Dysart, Carmelite Monastery, Former Dysart House, with St Serf's Cave, Terraced Garden and Boundary Walls

Listing Date: 28 January 1971

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 381194

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB36416

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Kirkcaldy

County: Fife

Town: Kirkcaldy

Electoral Ward: Kirkcaldy East

Traditional County: Fife

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1726, James Campbell principal contractor: 1808-14 SW and NE wings probably by Alexander Laing with Roger Black, builder. Minor 19th and 20th century alterations including 1900 porch by James Gillespie & Scott and 1930 alterations by Walter Alison. 2-storey with attic, basement and 3-storey bow, 3-bay, piend-roofed house. 3-storey wing with bow to SW and 3-storey return to NE forming U-plan. Squared and snecked rubble, dressed ashlar quoins and margins. Base course and eaves cornice with blocking course to later wings and porch. Continuous hoodmould to porch. Stone mullions.

SE (GARDEN) ELEVATION: 6-bay elevation. Original 3 bays to right, full-height advanced bow to centre with part-glazed timber door to basement and flanking windows, 3 windows to ground and 1st floors, and tripartite window to centre above; bay to right with window to each floor, that to left with basement window, serpentine stone stair to ground floor balcony with tripartite window and further window at 1st floor; small slate-hung dormer windows over outer bays. Bays to left of centre with continuation of full-width balcony on square-section columns; 3 French windows to basement, and 3 windows to each floor above. All ground floor windows large.

NW (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: symmetrical fenestration to 2-bay advanced outer wings, that to right including full-height canted window on return to left, each wing with broad wallhead stack; wings linked by low, 7-bay, flat-roofed porch with glazed canopy on decorative cast-iron columns, pilastered and block-pedimented doorway and part-glazed panelled timber door in penultimate bay to left; gambrel roof of former ballroom with dormer window to centre, full-width rooflight and pointed-arch opening to left gablet, and recessed face of original house with 2 small dormer windows behind. Low, piended office wing (with modern flat-roofed porch) projecting to right.

SW ELEVATION: 5-bay elevation with lower office wing to outer left. Full-height bowed bay to left of centre with 3 windows to each floor, window to each floor and further window to ground in bay to outer left; bay to right with small round-headed window to left at ground and further irregularly disposed window to each floor. Advanced bay to outer right with 2 windows to each floor. Asymmetrical fenestration to lower wing at outer left.

NE ELEVATION: symmetrical fenestration to 4-bay elevation with door to left of centre at basement.

Mainly small-pane and plate glass glazing patterns in timber sash and case windows. Coped rubble stacks with flue dividers

INTERIOR: panelled shutters, some dado rails, decorative and plain plasterwork cornicing. Hall with marble floor and carved fireplace with flanking paired Ionic columns, fluted frieze, cavetto cornice and marble slips. Altered top lit choir (former ballroom). Day room and infirmary to SE (original building) with architraved doors, moulded dadoes and fine plasterwork ceilings. Library to W (bowed windows) panelled soffits. Original sliding French windows to SE basement room. Vaulted cellars. Early electric dumb waiter.

ST SERF'S CAVE: pre 1540 (see Notes). Cave with 3 small chambers and natural hollows carved to form seats; ashlar doorway and pointed-arch window to adjacent cave (see Notes).

TERRACED GARDEN WITH GARDEN BUILDING AND BOUNDARY WALLS: terraced garden probably of 16th century origin. Terraces and stone staircases; low ashlar-coped walls enclosing former parterres; crenellated wall to SE; 20th century burial ground. Classical ashlar garden building with rusticated quoins, keystoned hoodmould and moulded cornice. Extensive ashlar-coped rubble boundary walls, raised with brick in places.

Statement of Interest

Formerly the seat of the St Clairs, Lords Sinclair and St Clair Erskines, Earls of Rosslyn. The present building replaces 'The Hermitage' destroyed by fire in 1722 and rebuilt as Dysart House, possibly designed as a hunting lodge. John, Robert and James Adam submitted an account for chimneypieces (no longer in situ) dated 1756-7. In 1892 the 5th Earl of Rosslyn undertook a scheme to enlarge the harbour for export of coal from the nearby Lady Blanche Pit which involved connecting it by tunnel to the dock. The tunnel, opened by his wife and called the Lady Violet Tunnel, runs under the terraces of Dysart House but the scheme was an expensive failure costing £10,000. The house and policies were sold (due to bankruptcy) to Michael Barker Nairn in 1898, and in 1929 the ground (now Ravenscraig Park) was given to Kirkcaldy Town Council by Sir Michael Nairn; the house was sold to Mrs Elsa af Wetterstedt Mitchell and given to the Carmelites. Local tradition says it was donated by Miss Evelyn Coats of J & P Coats, but her name appears on the deeds as a witness. However, the 1930 Dean of Guild application for alterations was requested by Miss D L Coates and Rev Mother Prioress. The house finally became a convent in June 1931 and continues as such. St Serf's Cave (also known as the 'Rud Chapel') was used for worship as early as the 15th century, an adjacent cave may have been the cell of St Catherine.

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