Balcarres has been in the possession of the Lindsay family since 1586. In 1595, John Lindsay built a semi-fortified house at Balcarres. It has undergone much change over the years including two principal extensions: in 1840, General James Lindsay commissioned William Burn to design the South West wing. In 1864, Sir Coutts Lindsay employed David Bryce to build an extensive addition to the North of the property.
Sir Coutts was also responsible for the design and construction of the impressive garden terraces – part of the extensive garden and landscaped park around the house.
The family has very strong links with the immediate community, in particular, the village of Colinsburgh that takes its name from the 3rd Earl of Balcarres, Colin Lindsay. In the early 18th century, he built the village directly south of the park to resettle soldiers who’d served in his regiment.
Today, the Estate retains strong ties with the village, providing the recreation ground and a woodland area used by the Primary school. In 1986, the family leased the house together with the gardens and park to a Charity, The Balcarres Heritage Trust, and the Charity is responsible for the maintenance of the property.
Through recent years, significant investment has been made in fabric of the estate, improving farm buildings, the housing stock, the woodlands and also the environment to encourage a greater diversity of wildlife.
The main commercial activities are farming and house rentals:
Farming: The majority of the agricultural land is farmed in-hand or with contractors. The main produce is wheat, barley for the brewing trade, oats and a range of vegetables including peas, carrots and broccoli. Almost all the output is for local markets. There is a substantial acreage of permanent grass for rearing cattle and sheep.
Recently the Estate has been involved in a mob grazing venture with Gilston Estate on the grass along the coast. This has involved removing kilometers of wire and barbed wire fencing and has been replaced with a simple two-strand electric fencing that has transformed the landscape. The cattle can comfortably over-winter on this grass rather than indoors and is self-fertilised by the mob itself reducing the spreading of chemical fertilisers.
Over the years enormous changes have taken place in ‘how’ the land is farmed. The focus on soil fertility has led to changing practices with arable crops grown using the principles of Integrated Farm management. The introduction of green manure cover crops within the rotation is improving the organic matter of the soil and provides nutrients for the next crop. The Estate recognises the importance of ensuring soil health for the future production of food.
House and Holiday rentals: the Estate is seen as a highly attractive place to live. There is a range of two and three bedroom cottages and farmhouses spread over the 4,500 acres of Estate land. Availability is limited due to the low turnover of tenants.
Balcarres has 800 acres of woodland and much effort is made to ensure these are maintained as an amenity for the local community. There is an ongoing focus on environmental issues with particular emphasis on increasing the diversity of wildlife through the creation of grass margins, hedge planting and pond creation. A red squirrel conservation project is also delivering encouraging results.
There is now the opportunity to stay on Balcarres Estate. In August 2021, Balcarres East Lodge and Balcarres North Lodge were launched as the Estate’s first holiday rental properties. These beautiful and unique lodges allow guests to stay in the heart of the Estate and enjoy everything the East Neuk has to offer.
To book a stay, please click on the links above and book through ALITDO.