The Anstruther family has been rooted in the East Neuk since the 12th Century, with Balcaskie as its home since the end of the 17th Century.
Largely, Balcaskie House is the creation of William Bruce, who made it his home around the time he was architect to the King for Holyrood Palace. Bruce went on to design Kinross House, Hopetoun House and several of Scotland’s most important buildings.
Later additions were by William Burn, the prominent Scottish architect involved in the later stages of the design of Stirling’s Wallace Monument. In 1905, George Elgood wrote that Balcaskie was ‘one of the best and most satisfying gardens in the British Isles’. Over the centuries, the gardens have seen input from Gilpin, Bryce & Nesfield. The house and gardens remain a private family home, although the gardens are open annually as part of Scotland’s Gardens project.
Balcaskie provides both tenanted and partnership farms. For more than a decade, we have operated around 850 hectares as an in-hand, mixed-use farm with both livestock and arable enterprises.
We use our own straw for bedding and other crops to nourish our livestock, then fertilizing the ground with farmyard manure, reducing our reliance on chemical fertilizers. The relationship between the Estate and its surrounding community has always been important and remains so. Today, the estate includes a range of commercial activities:
House rentals: the estate has a number of houses and cottages that are let.
Bowhouse: developed through 2016, Bowhouse is an old steading on the estate that is now a place for making food by transforming raw ingredients from the East Neuk’s farms and waters into finished products ready for customers locally and further afield. Bowhouse replaces a missing link in the food chain from farmer to consumer by providing dedicated space for producers to operate in. It also has a large, covered market and event space where customers can meet producers and growers and taste their food.
Kinneuchar Inn: in 2016, Balcaskie took over the Kinneuchar Inn in nearby Kilconquhar. The Inn is a 17th or early 18th century Inn in the heart of the village. The previous owners had done a great job for 28 years but were keen to retire and the Inn was threatened unless new owners could be found. The Inn will close this autumn for a refurbishment project likely to last until the summer of 2018. Once reopened, the Inn will help Balcaskie to create a link in the chain – enabling it to provide its food from field to plate.
Through our own in-hand farm and working with our tenants and partners, we are a source of quality beef, breeding sheep, wheat, barley, rapeseed oil, potatoes and farm vegetables. We are extremely proud that our barley goes to make some of the finest single Malt whisky in Scotland – as well as one of the finest real ales in the United Kingdom.
We are members of LEAF – Linking the Environment & Farming – and believe that it is our responsibility to produce good food in a way that fully respects our responsibilities to the environment and to future generations. We also have a close relationship with the National Trust for Scotland as their property, Kellie castle, is our neighbor. We work together to maintain and enhance the landscape and gardens at both Kellie Castle and Balcaskie.