Russell Mill House is a stunning country home that has been rescued from near-ruin and lovingly restored.
On the outskirts of Springfield, near Cupar, it sits just above the River Eden and gazes over woodland and countryside.
These views are framed through huge bay windows. Inside the former mill owner’s house are wonderful details such as ornate cornices and timber panelling.
The house is owned by Michael and Jenny Wombwell. They live there with their children Archie, 8, and Grace, 6, and their beautiful, madcap golden retriever Jack.
When the couple bought Russell Mill House six years ago it didn’t look anything like it does now. “An old lady had been there for a long time and the house was pretty much falling down around her,” Jenny recalls.
“She lived in one room. The rest of the house was virtually unliveable. Ceilings were caved in and there was damp and mould everywhere.
“When we came to visit there were 15 other viewers there. We put in an offer immediately. The old lady came back and said if we increased it by £5,000 it was ours. We weren’t the highest bidder but the people who offered more were planning to turn the house into flats and the old lady wanted it to be kept as one house.”
Having managed to buy the house – against their expectations – next came the mammoth task of carrying out the renovation. In their late 20s at the time, the couple were very young for such a huge undertaking.
Fortunately, Michael is a builder and has all the skills needed to rescue Russell Mill House. He took three months off to make a head start on it and worked evenings and weekends thereafter.
“Our youngest was nine months old at the time so I moved in with my in-laws to begin with and Michael was in a caravan here,” Jenny explains.
“After three solid months my husband got the house to the stage we could move in, but even then we only lived across a few of the upstairs rooms. It took four and a half years before we got the house to where it is now.”
Dating from 1816, Russell Mill House was built by George Moon, owner of the nearby Russell Mill and Hospital Mill, and is a handsome property made of stone under a slate roof. Thanks to the efforts of Michael and Jenny it has been restored beyond even its original splendour.
A lovely reception hall welcomes you into the house. The sitting room has a bay window, timber panelling and a wood burning stove in a stone fireplace.
The heart of the home is the kitchen and family room. The couple knocked through a wall to create a separate open plan space. The dining kitchen has triple aspect windows and a large central island. What was once a pantry has been turned into a downstairs WC and there’s a door to the garden.
“We spend a lot of time in this part of the house,” Jenny says. “We can be in the kitchen and still keep an eye on the kids if they’re watching TV.”
A downstairs wing of the house has been turned into a self-contained unit with its own main door that Jenny runs as an Airbnb.
This apartment contains two of the most impressive rooms in the house. The wonderful, elegant living room is almost 30 feet long and has two huge bay windows and a wood burning stove.
Meanwhile, a former dining room has been turned into the apartment’s bedroom.
This has cornices and ceiling roses that are beautifully ornate and were painstakingly restored by Jenny and Michael.
The couple created a kitchen and shower room to complete a section of the home that can be self-contained or opened up to the main house.
An original staircase leads to the first floor. At half landing level is a handy utility/laundry room. The master bedroom has an en suite bathroom. There is also a luxury family bathroom complete with walk-in shower and double-size sunken bathtub.
All told Russell Mill House has seven double bedrooms. Michael clearly had a sense of fun and imagination while carrying out the renovation work. Archie and Grace’s bedroom has bespoke built-in beds and a tunnel that leads into a secret playroom.
Only two rooms at one end of the house remain to be worked on. These have been stripped back to the bare stonework ready to be remodelled.
“If we were staying our plan was to knock through the wall and turn these two bedrooms into a master suite,” Jenny explains. “The big bay window has some of the best views in the house.”
Russell Mill House has an extensive garden. A lovely deck with gazebo is a fantastic place to enjoy a sunny afternoon or evening.
Play park and outbuilding
Meanwhile, Michael built a children’s play park in one corner of the garden complete with tree house, swings and a slide. “Our children love it, and so do our Airbnb guests,” Jenny says. “Their children will spend hours playing there.”
Other landscaping works include new stone walls, gravel paths and a monoblock parking area.
A big stone outbuilding is split into two spacious rooms. At present these are used for storage and as a workshop but there is potential to transform the building into a charming cottage. The roof has already been renewed and some of the windows and doors replaced with double-glazed units.
Russell Mains House is heated by a biomass boiler. This benefits from renewable heat incentive payments and makes the house extremely economical to keep warm.
After six years and with some reluctance, Michael and Jenny, both 34, have decided to put Russell Mill House on the market.
“Originally we didn’t intend to live in this part of Fife,” Jenny explains. “Our family are from the Kirkcaldy and Burntisland areas. We moved here because we couldn’t pass up this house after we saw it. We’ve had some terrific years here but we would like to be a bit closer to our families.”