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Earlsferry House


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.

 Dudingston House in Earlsferry

Earlsferry 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 white Scottish 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 Burgh.



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.

I've searched what 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:


"Earlsferry 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 information.


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. (born 1747)


Admiral Duddingston 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. 


Lieutenant 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 "first blow for freedom". ( At the time of this incident in 1772  Admiral Duddingston  was a lieutenant)  


Captain 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 Navy". 


On 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.