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£3.5m Fife castle with 45 acres, two cottages and amazing ‘Vatican’ walled garden

Myres Castle and its stunning walled garden.
Myres Castle and its stunning walled garden.

Standing on the tower roof of Myres Castle I can see the sweep of East and West Lomond and the charming villages of Falkland and Auchtermuchty.

The view was well worth ducking through a waist high door and climbing two narrow flights of a stone spiral staircase.

Myres Castle sits off the road between Auchtermuchty and Falkland, near the village of Dunshalt in the Howe of Fife.

Having grown up just a few miles away, I must have driven past a hundred times without ever realising a fairytale castle lay behind the screen of mature trees and a high stone wall.

“You’re not alone there,” owner Amanda Barge smiles. “You’d be surprised at the number of people in Auchtermuchty who are amazed when they find out there’s a castle here.”

16th Century

The oldest part of the castle dates from 1530. It was built by John Scrymgeour, who also oversaw the refurbishment of Falkland Palace and Holyrood Palace for King James V.

The town clerk of Falkland, Stephen Paterson, expanded the castle in 1611, raising it to three storeys and adding the tower I’ve just stood at the top of.

View from the tower.

Ownership then passed to the Moncreiff family, who had the castle for almost two centuries. They built the north wing along with a new entrance hall in 1750.

In 1887 Myres Castle was bought by James Fairlie and the castle would stay in the family’s hands for more than a century. James Fairlie was chamberlain to three popes and under his direction the walled garden was laid out in the style of the Vatican gardens.

Amanda Barge and her husband Henry bought Myres Castle around nine years ago. While it has predominantly been their family home, the couple have also built it into a successful wedding venue. They also run yoga, writers and artists’ retreats, with the peace and tranquillity providing the perfect setting for relaxation and creativity.

Castle and gardens.

The castle was given a major overhaul in the late 1990s. It was completely rewired and replumbed, and all 10 bedrooms were given en suite bathrooms.

Henry and Amanda improved the castle further, adding a biomass boiler and an 11kW array of solar panels. The renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments mean that the cost of heating the castle is covered in its entirety.

Local wildlife

When I arrive on a bright and sunny morning red squirrels are scurrying around stocking up food for winter. Shortly after I park up a hare bounds merrily across the driveway. Meanwhile three life-size hippos lounge open mouthed in the castle’s pond. These beasts are the work of Tessa Campbell Fraser, renowned sculptor and wife of Rory Bremner.

The enormous drawing room is a beautiful space.

Henry ushers me into the drawing room. Stretching to more than 10×6 metres this huge and magnificent space is lit by three large windows that look to the front of the castle. An enormous wood burning stove is ready to swing into action as the cooler months arrive. Beside the drawing room is a marvellous little turret bar.

The comfortable living room.

Up one floor is a sitting room that has less grandeur and is a nicer size for a couple to enjoy a quiet evening. It too has a large wood burning stove. “We use this room a lot over the winter,” Amanda continues. “With the fire going it’s really cosy.”

What was once the chapel is now a billiards room.

What was once the castle’s chapel has been turned into a games room, with a full size snooker table. A wooden balcony overlooks the room and is where the owning family would have gathered for prayers, looking down on the common people below.

“There’s an old lady in Auchtermuchty who remembers coming here for services on Sundays in the 1950s,” Amanda says.

The new family kitchen.

The couple converted what was a ground level boardroom into a dining kitchen. With windows to the front and rear and glazed doors into the garden it has plenty of light.

Commercial kitchen

As well as the main kitchen there is also a full commercial kitchen at ground level and another kitchen at first floor level. The castle is fully geared up for use as a wedding or exclusive hire venue, or as a bespoke hotel.

Every bedroom is special.

All 10 bedrooms have en suites and they also have their own personality, being differently shaped and decorated in a variety of ways. A ground floor bedroom has its own external door and is accessible for those with mobility problems.

Garden and grounds

Myres Castle has 45 acres of grounds. A belt of mature trees – some of them dating from the 1700s – surround the boundary, giving shelter and privacy.

“We walk around the perimeter of the grounds three times a day with the dogs,” Henry explains. “It’s almost exactly a mile around. Some of our best decision making has happened on those walks.”

The walled garden is extremely special.

The crowning glory is the walled garden – nicknamed the Vatican garden. This beautiful expanse of manicured lawn, flowers, yew hedges and gravel paths is tended by a gentleman called Matthew, who has been the castle gardener through three decades and as many owners.

A special place to relax.

“Matthew knows every square inch of the grounds,” Henry smiles. “We’re very lucky to have him.”

Past the walled garden is a “barnquee” – a mix of canvas, timber and the rear of the walled garden that is a fantastic space used to host wedding parties.

There is a tennis court and even a helipad. “We rented the castle out for the open a few times, to a Nigerian oil firm and to Rolex,” Henry says. “The Nigerian firm arrived by helicopter and flew to the golf.”

Cottage and gate lodge

Myres Castle has a courtyard cottage with three bedrooms. A gate lodge has a living room with wood burning stove, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. There is also a luxury ‘shepherd’s hut’ that is fully insulated and has a kitchen/sitting room with wood burner, double bed, shower and WC.

The pretty gate lodge.

Another outbuilding holds a training pool that lets you swim against a current. Meanwhile, one corner of the walled garden has a cedar hot tub and a large chess board.

Tucked away: the shepherd’s hut.

Having spent almost a decade at Myres Castle, Henry, 59, and Amanda, 56, are selling up. The couple have a home in Lower Largo and another on the West Coast of Scotland, and plan to divide their time between both properties.

“It’s been wonderful living here and we will miss it,” Amanda says. “But it feels like time to make a change.”

Myres Castle.


Myres Castle, Auchtermuchty, Fife is on sale with Savills for o/o £3.5 million.