Balbirnie House

Balbirnie House is an early 19th-century country house in Glenrothes, in central Fife, Scotland. The present house was completed in 1817 as a rebuild of an 18th-century building, itself a replacement for a 17th-century dwelling. The home of the Balfour family from 1640, the house was sold in 1969 and opened as a hotel in 1990. The grounds now comprise a large public park and a golf course. The house is protected as a category A listed building,[1] while the grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.[2]

Balbirnie House
Balbirnie House.jpg
Balbirnie House
LocationGlenrothes, Fife, Scotland
Coordinates56°12′34″N 3°08′45″W / 56.2094°N 3.1457°W / 56.2094; -3.1457Coordinates: 56°12′34″N 3°08′45″W / 56.2094°N 3.1457°W / 56.2094; -3.1457
Built forGeneral Robert Balfour of Balbirnie
ArchitectRichard Crichton
Architectural style(s)Greek Revival
Listed Building – Category A
Designated24 November 1972
Reference no.LB16687
CriteriaWork of Art
Designated1 July 1987
Reference no.GDL00034
Balbirnie House is located in Fife
Balbirnie House
Location of Balbirnie House in Fife


Around 1640, the Balbirnie estate was acquired by the family of Balfour. A 17th-century house on the estate was remodelled or replaced in the later 18th century for John Balfour. The architecture of these works, completed around 1782, has been attributed to both James Nisbet and to John Baxter Jr.[1] In 1815 further changes were begun by General Robert Balfour, to designs by the architect Richard Crichton.[3] Some £16,000 was spent on extending the south-west front and constructing the portico at the south-east. At the same time, landscape gardener Thomas White provided plans for the improvement of the 18th-century parkland. Meanwhile, General Balfour's two brothers were developing new houses at Whittingehame in East Lothian and Newton Don in the Borders, funded by the same large inheritance.[2] Further alterations, comprising offices, were carried out in 1860, possibly designed by David Bryce.[1] The plant collection was expanded from the mid-19th century with seeds sent from India by George Balfour, a friend of plant collector William Hooker.[2]

The garden was remodelled in 1926 by Sir Robert Lorimer.[4]

In 1969 the house and estate was acquired by the Glenrothes Development Corporation, who were then building the new town of Glenrothes. A golf course was laid out in the grounds, while the house was converted into council offices.[2] The house was sold on to a private owner who redeveloped it as a 30-bedroom hotel, opened in 1990 by Malcolm Rifkind who was then Secretary of State for Scotland.[1] 416 acres (168 ha) of parkland and woodland remain in the ownership of Fife Council as a public park.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Historic Environment Scotland. "BALBIRNIE PARK, BALBIRNIE HOUSE...  (Category A Listed Building) (LB16687)". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Historic Environment Scotland. "Balbirnie (GDL00034)". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Balbirnie House". Dictionary of Scottish Architects.
  4. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Robert Lorimer
  5. ^ "Balbirnie Park". Fife Council. Retrieved 8 April 2011.

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