Heritage

The Anstruther Town Centre Group have produced a Heritage Trail Book for the Town. 

Listed below is the text on over 30 sites of historical importance in Anstruther, Kilrenny  and Cellardyke. 

To view the Guide in PDF Format click Here. Please not you will need adobe Acrobat reader and a fairly fast internet connec tion due to the number of photographs)   but it is worth it!

  1. Captain Rodger (1801- 1877) Alexander Rodger was born at 26 Shore Street Cellardyke. He began his distingtlished career at sea at the age of nineteen as a seaman on a collier, but within a year was promoted to second mate. And within two years became a captain. He sailed all round the world including leading an expedition to the Australian goldfields with a crew of’ sixteen Cellardyke lads, five of whom were his nephews. He later owned several ships the most famous being the “Taeping; the clipper ship which won the famous tea race from Foochow to London against the ” Arie1″ skippered by his friend Captain Keay of Anstruther.
  2. Cellardyke Church. Prior to the building of this church, many Cellardyke worshippers travelled to Kilrenny Church. In 1877 the Kilrenny minister the Rev John Christie D.D., said that a new church should be built in the town to house the increasing population. Philip Oliphant a banker and la,,’Yer led a fund raising campaign and the church was completed by 1881. Since then, the church has flourished and in 1970, an excellent hall and suite of rooms were built. Member’s of’the congregation gave freely of their many skills and worked evenings and weekends to complete the extensions. Which were opened two years later? This was an outstanding achievement on the part of’ a church congregation.
  3. Cellardyke Baptist Church. This church was built in record time after an appeal was launched in March 1860, the opening ceremony taking place the following November. Accommodation for the minister and his family was provided at the west end of the church. In 1874 a villa for the minister was built in St Ayles Crescent. This manse was sold in 1970 and the minister was once again housed at the church. . When first built, the church was described as “Elegant and chaste- the best looking building in the place”
  4. Cellardyke School This School was opened in 1878. Prior to this, the Children walked to Kilrenny School, which the new Cellardyke School replaced. The school gained a high reputation and in 1888 H.M Inspectors, report stated, “The results in arithmetic can hardly be surpassed and the faultless behaviour of the pupils attests to the excellent training they are receiving”. After the inspection, each child received a bun! The school closed in June 2003, when the pupils transferred to the new Anstruther Primary School, which opened in August.
  5. Cellardyke Harbour. This picturesque harbour originally known as Skinfasthaven dates from the 16th Century but was rebuilt in 1829 to 1831. During the great years of the Herring Fishing Fleets, it was a very busy thriving harbour. Bishop James Kennedy and Cardinal David Beaton are closely linked with the harbour, which they used frequently on their travels to The Hanseatic Ports
  6. Cellardyke Town Hall. The original Town Hall dated from 1624. The Present building was erected in 1883 in Tolbooth Wynd. In recent years, it has been completely refurbished internally and must now be one of the best Town Halls in Fife. It is maintained to a very high standard and many interesting local artefacts are displayed throughout the premises including a full-scale replica of the German bomb, which dropped on Rodger Street during the Second World War. The Kilrenny old Mercat Cross is to be found at the lower entrance to the Town Hall.
  7. Anstruther Cleek Makers. From as early as 1837 Anstruther enjoyed a far-flung reputation for the manufacture of cleeks or as they are generally known, iron heads for golf clubs. James Anderson and his son Alex who were originally blacksmiths, manufactured cleeks from 1865 at their factory in St Andrews Road opposite Waid Academy. By 1890, they were producing thousands of iron heads every year. They introduced machinery to polish the heads and had twelve forges in action. Other Anstruther manufacturers were Robert Brodie and Son, whose factory was in Crichton Street, D .W. Brodie and Co (same family), David Ram say and Alex Birrell. These Anstruther craftsmen were renowned all over Britain, America, Australia and wherever golf was played. Many famous golf champions used their clubs. Nowadays the old hickory shafted clubs are much sought after by collectors.
  8. The Buckie House the Buckie House stands at the east end of Dreel Bridge opposite Anstruther Wester Town Hall It dates back to 1692. It was decorated by shells or buckies by a local Slater. To ease traffic congestion the house was due to be demolished but was rescued by the National Trust for Scotland
  9. The Mercat Cross. One of the Burgh’s most historic features is the Mercat Cross which stands in Shore Street opposite the Murray Library .The cross was erected over 400 years ago when James V made Anstruther a Free Royal Burgh in 1540. This meant that the town was granted many privileges including the right to elect a Provost and Baillies along with Merchants of the Royal Burgh being granted the power to buy and sell. The cross signified that weekly and annual fairs could be held so that merchants could sell their goods.
  10. Castle of Dreel the ruins of the castle at the foot of Wightman’ s Wynd are certainly of the greatest historical importance to both Anstruther and Scotland. The castle was erected in the reign of David 1 (1124-1153) by William de Candela, forebear of the Anstruther family in 1130. It was here that Mary Queen of Scots stayed in 1565. In 1650 Charles 11 was entertained at the castle by Sir Philip Anstruther. When Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1651 the castle was occupied by his troops. A dumb- bell loophole can still be seen in the wall. In 1749 Charles Wightman, who was a very wealthy merchant, bought a house, which stood here. The Wynd is named after him. Stone lintels and windows can still be seen in the walls. Keen interest is shown in the castle by historical groups such as the Marie Stuart (Mary Queen of Scots) Society.
  11. David Martin (1737-1797) David was born at School Green on the site of the School House adjacent to Murray and Wilson’s joinery workshop. He became a world famous portrait painter whose painting of Benjamin Franklin hangs in the White House in Washington. And is acclaimed as one of its finest portraits He was Limner (Royal portrait painter) to the then Prince of Wales and gained many other distinctions.
  12. William Tennant (1784-1848) William was born at 54 High Street on the Site, which is now a pet shop known as Pets’ Pantry .He was an authority on Greek, Latin and Hebrew. He became Professor of Oriental Languages at St Andrews University in 1834, but is best noted for his famous epic poem ” Anster Fair” based on the traditional ballad “Maggie Lauder.
  13. Dr Thomas Chalmers (1780 -1847) Recently recognised as one of Scotland’s ten greatest sons, he was born in the house now known as Chalmers Birthplace, in Old Post Office Close. The family later moved to a house above Dreel Bridge near the Old Mill. Thomas, a brilliant academic who attended St Andrews University from the age of twelve, became internationally known as a leading social reformer, Professor of Moral Philosophy and Divinity, fIrst Moderator of the Free Church Of Scotland and influential author which moulded the Kirk’s attitude towards relationships with community life. He was particularly noted for his dynamic and inspired preaching which gained him thousands of followers. His birthplace is also of historical interest being one of the oldest houses in Anstruther. Dating from the early 16th century it was built from stone and ships’ timbers brought from the beach. . It housed the first Protestant Minister of Anstruther Wester church in 1590. It was fully restored by local joiner and builder Peter Murray and deservedly received a civic award.
  14. Cunzie House It was here in 1868 that Robert Louis Stevenson resided with Baillie Brown a Cabinet Maker. He came to glean engineering experience while his father Thomas was engaged in the building of the new Union Harbour pier. It was said that the May Island was in his mind when he later wrote “Treasure Island”.
  15. The Hermitage This fine three storeyed house was built on the site of a malt barn, by John Goodsir in 1814. He practised medicine in Anstruther and rose to become Professor of Anatomy in Edinburgh. His most famous work is his “Anatomical Memoirs”. His three sons followed him into the medical profession.
  16. Captain John Keay (1828-1918). John Keay was born in East Green but later resided at the Great Lodging opposite the Buckie House in High Street. He was a renowned captain of the China Tea Clippers of the late 19th Century .In 1868 as captain of the Ariel he won the great Clipper race bringing a cargo of tea from China, narrowly defeating the Taeping commanded by his great friend and rival Captain Alex Rodger of Cellardyke.
  17. The Craw’s Nest Hotel. The original part of the hotel was built as the manse of Anstruther Wester Church in 1835. One of its early occupants was the Rev. Hew Scott, author of “Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae” The building was purchased and renovated by the late Mr Eddie Clark and opened as the Craw’s Nest Hotel in 1965. Since then, the hotel has been extended and enjoys an international reputation. The original roof of the manse can still be seen above the hotel.
  18. The Old Bank and Bank House. In May 1882 the National Bank of Scotland opened here as the first bank between Leven and St Andrews with Matthew Connolly as agent. This was an important economic development for the town and it became a leading centre of finance for an extensive area. This imposing stone built building is a historic feature of the town.
  19. Anstruther Wester Church and Manse In 1243 this church was dedicated to St Nicholas. John Knox preached here in 1559. The first Protestant minister, William Clark was appointed in 1560. He lived in the house now known as Chalmers’ Birthplace. The church was increased in size to its present dimensions in 1845. It united in 1961 with Anstruther Easter church under the name of St Adrian.
  20. Anstruther Wester Church Manse. The original manse was a single storey building on the south side of the churchyard. In 1867 it was rebuilt and is now known as Dolphin Cottage. A new manse was built across the road in 1703 and is now a private residence. In 1835-36 a new manse was built in Pittenweem Road. And in 1963 became the Craw’s Nest Hotel.
  21. Anstruther Wester Town Hall. The upper building adjacent to the church, opposite the Buckie House, is the original T own Hall.
  22. Chalmers Memorial Lighthouse This lighthouse was gifted by Miss Hannah Harvie of Cheltenham in 1880 in memory of Thomas Chalmers of whom she was a devout follower. This was to mark the centenary of the great man’s birth. Hannah Harvie also donated Anstruther’s first lifeboat the Admiral Fitzroy which served Anstruther from 1865 to 1888.
  23. The Murray Library. When David Murray 1830-1907 died in London he left in his will £4000 to provide a library and recreational facilities for the young men of his native Anstruther. David was the son of William Murray a Provost of the Town. In 1853 he emigrated to Australia where he became a wealthy businessman and high-ranking politician. The building was opened in1908 under the stewardship of the Murray Library Trustees. It has potential for future civic development in the changing world of today. David Murray lies buried in Anstruther churchyard.
  24. Chalmers’ Memorial Church. This church which stood on Hadfoot Wynd overlooking the harbour was opened in 1891. In 1973 it was linked with the Parish Church of Anstruther and finally closed in1983. It remained unused until May 1991, when a mysterious fire gutted the magnificent edifice. The splendid spire was a welcome landmark to fishermen returning from Hazardous voyages.
  25. East Neuk Centre One of Dr Chalmers’ convictions was that the church and education were inseparable. Consequently, in 1846, just three years after the founding of the Free Church a new school was built at the junction of Back Dykes and Ladywalk. Since then, it has had many uses. At present, it houses council offices and a community centre.
  26. Erskine Hall the United Presbyterians built a church here in 1852. A union with the Free Church took place in 1900. Then in 1938 it became a labour exchange for the town’s unemployed. Forty years later it became a shirt factory. It is now part of the East Neuk Centre.
  27. Johnston Lodge This farm villa was built in 1828. In 1912 a ballroom and porch were added. It was the home of a Tahitian Princess who married John Brander a wealthy sea trader in the Pacific. They lived in the house from 1892 to 1898. Her tombstone can be seen on the south wall of the Parish Church.
  28. Andrew Waid Lieutenant Andrew Waid R.N. (1736-1804) lived in a house in East Green. After a successful career in the Royal Navy and in business, he left a legacy of£15,000 to establish the school, which is now known as Waid Academy.
  29. Anstruther Parish Church. Under the leadership of James Melville in 1592, land was purchased for the building of this church but it was not completed unti11634. The oldest feature inside the church is the tomb of Master John Dykes assistant to James Melville. In 1938 four stained glass windows were installed by Mrs E. W. Logan a benefactor of the town Her father Surgeon Robert Black was a much respected medical practitioner in the town who sadly died in the harbour one stormy night when returning from an emergency call. The Churchyard contains a remarkable number of distinguished Scots.
  30. Old Harbour In 1588 a truly remarkable event took place at the old harbour in Anstruther, when the town ‘ s inhabitants awoke one morning to find a large ship “Full o’ warlike men” had arrived. The ship was crowded with a large complement of Spanish sailors led by high-ranking noblemen who were fleeing from the defeat of the Spanish Armada. They had endured a horrendous journey and were facing starvation when they put into Anstruther. James Melville the minister went to meet them and soon realised they were in dire straits, when their leader, “Grey haired, bowed doon to me with his face near touching my shoe”. Their commander a rich nobleman named Juan Gomez de Medina was one of those in charge of the Armada. It is said that Melville received a treasure chest from the Spaniards enabling him to build his manse which still stands. Four hundred years later members of the “Tercio Viejo Del Mar Oceano” an ancient Spanish seafaring order visited Anstruther, attired in full period costume and re-enacted this historic event.
  31. The Old Coach House during the 18th Century the Old Coach House in Hadfoot Wynd was a thriving malt barn
  32. The James Melville Manse. This is the oldest inhabited manse in Scotland. . Melville appears to have received a large sum of money from Don Juan Gomez, captain of the beleaguered Spaniards who sailed into Anstruther in 1588 as part of the defeated Spanish Armada. The manse was built by the townspeople who used sledges to drag tons of stones up from the beach.