Hill of Tarvit Mansion House Gardens

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright May 2019, Bill Kasman; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


A walk round the extensive gardens of this historic mansion house

Close to the former Fife County Town of Cupar and now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and open to the public this originally 17th century house was once known as 'Wemyss Hall'. In 1904, Frederick Bower Sharp (who made his fortune largely in the production of jute) purchased the house and the estate, renamed it 'Hill of Tarvit' and engaged the architect Sir Robert Lorimer to completely remodel the house and the gardens (now some 40 acres of garden and 279 acres of a wider estate), the intention being to provide a family home where Sharp could display his extensive collection of paintings, tapestries, furniture and porcelain. The new house was fitted with all modern conveniences, including central heating, electricity and an internal telephone system. In 1924 a nine-hole golf course was constructed in the grounds of the estate and today it is the only exclusively hickory golf course in the UK where visitors may play a round in Edwardian style with original hickory clubs and softer rubber-wound balls.

The Sharp's eldest child, Hugh, took a great interest in rare books and botanical specimens (many of which can be seen in the gardens) but, sadly, he died relatively young and unmarried and in 1948, upon the death of the last surviving family member (Hugh's younger sister Elizabeth), the house and the family's collection was left to the National Trust for Scotland, with a sizable endowment for upkeep. Originally only the ground floor of the house was open to the public, the upper floors being used as a convalescent home by the Marie Curie Foundation but, when the Foundation ceased using the house in 1977, the entire house was opened to the public. In 2006 the NTS restored the house as closely as possible to its original 1906 state resulting in the fine example of a wealthy Edwardian family home it is today.

As the NTS often do both the house (a Category 'A' Listed Building) and the gardens have been partially commercialised in order to raise funds. As well as an entrance fee to the house a cafe is available and portions of the grounds and gardens often host weddings and other events - it isn't unusual to see a large marquee on the south lawn close to the house and on such occasions parts of the house and gardens may be closed to the public.

Although I have given some background and history of the house the purpose of this article is to illustrate the wonderful gardens which surround the house. Not only are there interesting formal gardens there are also what may be referred to as 'back gardens' which contain woodland walks and several buildings which pertain to the running of the house - a laundry, a cider house, a gardeners' 'shed', a mausoleum, a doocot, a kitchen garden, a curling pond, etc. There are also the sketchy remains of a Ha-Ha LinkExternal link which used to protect the grounds near the house. Although there is a fee to enter the mansion house the gardens are free for you to wander around to your heart's content (there is a charge for car parking). There is also a footpath which climbs to the summit of the Hill of Tarvit (211m) which is well worth the effort for the excellent views it offers over the Fife countryside.



Where is Hill of Tarvit Mansion House?

This magnificent Edwardian family home lies off the A916 about one mile from the old Fife County Town of Cupar






NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House entrance by Bill Kasman
Off the A916 this is West Drive, the entrance to the mansion house estate and gardens.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Notice at Hill of Tarvit Mansion House entrance by Bill Kasman
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House driveway by Bill Kasman
Known as West Drive this leafy driveway is the access road to the car park, gardens and mansionhouse.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Notice at Hill of Tarvit Mansion House entrance by Bill Kasman
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Woodland Walk, Hill of Tarvit by Bill Kasman
About halfway along the entrance driveway can be found one end of the 'Centenary Walk', a woodland walk which passes an old mausoleum and a doocot and overlooks the Hickory Golf Course.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Notice at Centenary Walk, Hill of Tarvit by Bill Kasman
This notice can be found at one end of the 'Centenary Walk' off the entrance driveway to the mansion house.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hickory Golf Course, Hill of Tarvit by Bill Kasman
Built in 1924 the Hickory Golf Course in Hill of Tarvit Mansion House Gardens is the only exclusively hickory golf course in the UK where visitors may play a round in Edwardian style with original hickory clubs and softer rubber-wound balls.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House driveway by Bill Kasman
The car park is to the left. The road to the right continues through the estate and joins a minor road after about half-a-mile.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House by Bill Kasman
Leading from the car park this road provides access to the mansion house for delivery vehicles and pedestrians. Vehicles with disability parking permits are also allowed to use this approach to the mansion house and are permitted to park adjacent to the house.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Rhododendron at Hill of Tarvit by Bill Kasman
This rhododendron bush (probably R. ponticum) is in the gardens of Hill of Tarvit Mansion House, near Cupar, Fife. Although an invasive species not native to the UK there is no denying it makes a magnificent display, with the bench seat providing scale.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
Hill of Tarvit Mansion House belongs to the National Trust for Scotland and the NTS hires out parts of the gardens for various private functions. These marquees have been erected on the south lawn for a wedding.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Croquet anyone? by Bill Kasman
Croquet equipment ready for use in Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
Close to the mansionhouse this enclosed section of the gardens is known as the 'rose garden'.
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This is in front of the house. The lawn to the right and the further lawn below it to the extreme right are where many private functions (often weddings) take place.
The group of trees was the location of the chairs in this image NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This marquee (on the south lawn) has been erected for a wedding. The NTS (who own the mansionhouse) hire out various parts of the gardens for private functions such as this. The lawn immediately in front of the camera is the 'Hickory Lawn Game' area where aspiring hickory golfers may practice their putting skills NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens This area used to contain a tennis court
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This area is a practice area for aspiring hickory golfers NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
The mansionhouse is to the right of this image.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This is the front of the house but it isn't the main entrance. That lies on the left-hand side of the house from this image. The four chairs seem to have lost their table!
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House by Bill Kasman
The wooden shed is known as the Summer House.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House by Bill Kasman
This is the service road which leads to the rear of the mansionhouse.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Mystery pillar! by Bill Kasman
The purpose of this pillar by the side of Hill of Tarvit Mansion House is not clear. At about six feet high it is too tall for a sundial (nor was there any sign of a gnomon). The top is a flat plate about two feet in diameter with a central hole about six inches in diameter. The only information the pillar carries is a makers' name and date - A Bald, Alloa 1859.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Forester's Cottage, Hill of Tarvit by Bill Kasman
This building is now the equipment store and starter's point for the hickory golf course.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Notice at hickory golf course starter's point by Bill Kasman
This notice outside Forester's Cottage, Hill of Tarvit NO3811 : Forester's Cottage, Hill of Tarvit gives details of green fees and other costs associated with playing golf at the Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
Close to Forester's Cottage this is one end of a semi-circular forest walk of about one kilometre the other end of which starts near Gardener's Cottage NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens. This walk passes the remains of the mansionhouse's curling pond, kitchen garden and part of the ha-ha LinkExternal link which used to protect the house.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Wildflower meadow by Bill Kasman
Part of the hickory golf course at Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens has been given over to a wildflower meadow which benefits many species of insects, small vertebrates and birds NO3811 : Wildflower meadow
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Wildflower meadow by Bill Kasman
This notice can be seen on the fence in this image NO3811 : Wildflower meadow
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course by Bill Kasman
Part of Hill of Tarvit Mansion House estate. This is the UK's only exclusively hickory golf course where visitors can play golf in the Edwardian style with hickory golf clubs and soft, rubber-wound balls.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course by Bill Kasman
Part of Hill of Tarvit Mansion House estate. This is the UK's only exclusively hickory golf course where visitors can play golf in the Edwardian style with hickory golf clubs and soft, rubber-wound balls.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Forester's Cottage, Hill of Tarvit by Bill Kasman
Seen from the estate road. Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course is to the left of this image.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Speed bumps by Bill Kasman
Several of these speed bumps (sometimes called 'sleeping policemen') have been placed on the road which runs through Hill of Tarvit Mansion House estate in an attempt to slow traffic down. Not all of them are marked with white posts so care is needed!
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens exit by Bill Kasman
Although vehicles can enter this way it isn't the estate's preferred entranceway for visitors - that is off the A916 Cupar-Craigrothie road. For traffic management purposes this is the estate's preferred exitway leading, as it does, to Wemysshall Road, a quieter road than the A916 trunk road NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens exit
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens exit by Bill Kasman
This notice can be found on the gates in this image NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens exit
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This woodland walk starts near the exit of the estate road onto Wemysshall Road. It skirts the hickory golf course and reaches the estate road once again near the entrance from the A916. On its way it passes several interesting features. This plaque marks the beginning of the walk on the eastern side of the estate road but there is another short section of the walk (about 100m) on the opposite of the road.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This red box (a 'dog poo bin') marks the beginning of a woodland walk known as the 'Centenary Walk'. The information plaque next to the bin can be seen here NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
The Centenary Walk woodland path.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
The Centenary Walk woodland path takes more than one route but they all join together again after a few hundred metres.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
A view of the mansionhouse over the hickory golf course from the Centenary Walk. The small building on the right is Forester's Cottage which is now an equipment store and starter's point for the golf course.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
Golfers on the Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course, Hill of Tarvit.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
These rough wooden seats on the Centenary Walk offer a place to rest and a good view over the hickory golf course.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
On the Centenary Walk, a woodland walk at Hill of Tarvit, can be found an old mausoleum (just visible in this image). It belongs to the Wemyss family and is also known as the 'Wemyss Vault'. When this image was taken the vault was severely overgrown and the interior could not even be viewed.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
On the Centenary Walk, a woodland walk at Hill of Tarvit, can be found an old mausoleum. It belongs to the Wemyss family and is also known as the 'Wemyss Vault'. When this image was taken the vault was severely overgrown and the interior could not even be viewed.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
On the Centenary Walk, a woodland walk at Hill of Tarvit, can be found an old mausoleum. It belongs to the Wemyss family and is also known as the 'Wemyss Vault'. When this image was taken the vault was severely overgrown and the interior could not even be viewed.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
On the Centenary Walk, a woodland walk at Hill of Tarvit, can be found an old mausoleum. It belongs to the Wemyss family and is also known as the 'Wemyss Vault'. When this image was taken the vault was severely overgrown and the interior could not even be viewed.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
On the Centenary Walk, a woodland walk at Hill of Tarvit, can be found an old mausoleum. It belongs to the Wemyss family and is also known as the 'Wemyss Vault'. When this image was taken the vault was severely overgrown and the interior could not even be viewed.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
The old doocot (dovecote) overlooks the hickory golf course and the mansionhouse (both behind the camera) from the Centenary Walk at Hill of Tarvit.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This picnic table near the old doocot NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens on the Centenary Walk at Hill of Tarvit has a good view of the mansionhouse and the hickory golf course but I doubt it's used much since it's difficult to reach - although I did have a cup of tea and a sandwich sitting at it!
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
Golfers on Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course at Hill of Tarvit.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3712 : Hill of Tarvit by Bill Kasman
From near the Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course in Hill of Tarvit Mansion House Gardens.
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by Bill Kasman


NO3811 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens by Bill Kasman
This gate marks a break in the Centenary Walk, a woodland walk at Hill of Tarvit. The Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course is on the right (the notice warns of this) and Wemysshall Road is on the left over a stone wall. When the walk resumes through the woods in the distance it splits into more than one path but they meet up again after a few hundred metres. This second wooded area is known as 'Doocot Wood' and is the location of the doocot in this image NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens and the mausoleum in this image NO3711 : Hill of Tarvit Mansion House gardens
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


NO3710 : Craigrothie, Fife by Bill Kasman
This small village is seen here from the Centenary Walk, a woodland walk which is part of Hill of Tarvit Mansion House Gardens. The road immediately on the other side of the stone wall is Wemysshall Road.
See Hill of Tarvit article Link
by Bill Kasman


KML

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