The Royal Burgh
of Earlsferry has
many beautiful homes but in it's day and without question our
touch of class, the jewel
in our crown was Earlsferry House. Sad to say for reasons unknown to
me this beautiful and prestigious mansion home was dismantled, stone
by stone, until all that was left was a memory.
Next to the east
on the beach and
adjacent to Earlsferry House is Sandford
Cottage. One night that I think would be in 1935 Sandford Cottage
was gutted by fire. When daylight came all that remained of Sandford
Cottage were the stone walls and smoking embers. As time went
by the cottage was rebuilt.
House, when I knew it, was structurally in good condition. It was built of large hand hewn stone blocks and was an impressive,
magnificent home. Situated right on the beach adjacent to Glover's Wynd the house commanded views of the entire Earlsferry and Elie
beach, the ancient chapel ruin on Chapel Green at Earlsferry Point that bears the
date 1093, the Elie Harbour, the Lighthouse, the Firth of Forth and on
clear days the islands and the shoreline on the south side of the
Firth. The landscaped garden ground that the house stood on extended along the beach from Sandford
Cottage to Glovers Wynd and from there northwards and across the
High Street and to the golf course at Links Road. The vegetable and flower ground on the north side
from the High Street to Links Road was known as the north garden and was surrounded
by a high stone wall the top of which was embedded with the jagged
ends of broken glass bottles. This certainly prevented the boys in
the village from climbing over!!! On the walls were espaliered
fruit trees. A man who went by the name of "The Koby" was the
gardener. He also was the handy man for the property. In the north
garden he grew all kinds of vegetables and flowers such as to keep
the "big house" across the road and many others well supplied with both.
The most notable
part of Earlsferry House that set it apart from all other houses in
Earlsferry was the castellated tower above which was a flag pole.
It was impressive to see the house on the days that the blue and
Cross of St. Andrew flew from the mast head. (As on this page, top,left.)
The upper part
of the Coat of Arms of the Royal Burgh of Earlsferry and Elie is
castellated and I've often wondered if there is a connection as to
the castellated turret of Earlsferry House and the design of the
castellated upper part of what became the Coat of Arms of our Royal
When I was a boy
my dad, Tom, gave golf lessons to the family that lived in the house
and I got to know them to a small extent. I believe it was still the
Glovers who lived in the house at this time. I was inside the house
several times including being shown up into the turret. I remember
being impressed by the large oil paintings and works of art, the oak floors, the wide and
slow rise steps of the curving open staircase, the mahogany doors and
trim, the elaborate plasterwork of the high ceilings, the fine
antique furniture and the many large and beautiful carpets. All in all, Earlsferry House was a class act and did justice to the honour
bestowed on Earlsferry, that of Royal Burgh. Earlsferry House was a home fit to receive royalty and dignitaries.
One such personage in the 30's was the German industrialist Alfried
Krupp and his family to whom my dad gave golf lessons. At the end of
his stay and as a momento Alfried Krupp gave my dad the present of a very fine
stainless steel pocket knife that was made in his Essen factory in
Germany's Ruhr Valley. Later my dad gave this knife to me
which to this day I still carry.
In the front
garden were large trees where in the highest of the branches crows
built their nests. In the sun trap walled garden around the house
was a lawn, shrubbery and flowers. A handsome wrought iron
gate in the front wall opened onto the beach. In the
days of the "Upstairs/Downstairs" big houses with a liveried
chauffeur at the front door, Earlsferry House was the epitome of that era.
history books I have to try to find out when and who built Earlsferry
House and something about the people that over the years lived in
it. There's little on record. The best I can come up with is the
research that my Earlsferry friend, Albert Lawrie,
did. Albert's brochure about "Ancient Earlsferry" that he had
printed in 2004 contains the following information:
House, originally built by Admiral Duddingston, the last of the
Duddingstons of Sandford, has been rebuilt by T.C. Glover, Esq. who
has been elected Provost of the Royal Burgh, the office of Provost
giving him a seat in County Council."
Now, thanks to the web, new
At 76 years of age Admiral
William Duddingston, died
at his Earlsferry House, Chapel Green, home on the 27th of October 1817. (born 1740)
Another seafaring Scotsman
of that era, Captain John Paul Jones,
fought to give support to the cause of the colonists of America. At 45 years of age Captain John Paul Jones died on the 18th of July 1792.
and Captain John Paul Jones had much in common. They both by their naval actions materially
contributed to the emergence of the country now known as the USA.
Duddingston acting on behalf of King George the III sowed the seeds of
revolution by antagonized the colonists to the point that they
retaliated by capturing and burning his British ship
HMS Gaspee and severely
wounding him. This event is now regarded as the colonists
blow for freedom". ( At the time of this incident in 1772
Admiral Duddingston was a lieutenant)
John Paul Jones on the other hand endeared himself to the colonists
by fighting on their behalf. Because of his naval influence Captain
Paul Jones is recognized as being the "Father of the American
July the 4th. 1776, four years after the burning of HMS Gaspee,
Thomas Jefferson on behalf of the colonists formally threw off the
yoke of the British and declared the
right of the colonists to self government and independence
from Gt. Britain.
Chapel Green, Earlsferry.