Monday, 14 October 2013

Palace of Monimail

A small tower is all that remains of the summer palace of the archbishops of St Andrews. Cardinal James Beaton (1539-46) is said to have built the tower but the upper levels were altered after the Reformation and date to 1578. The palace's most famous inhabitant was Cardinal David Beaton who was murdered in 1546.

The earliest episcopal residence on the site was as early as 1300. Not only was it a favoured position on the south facing Howe of Fife but it was also conveniently close to the two roads linking St Andrews to two of the kingdom's most important cities. It remained in Church hands until the Reformation when it passed to the Balfour family and was held by them until 1592 when they sold the property to Sir David Melville. There is considerable irony in this as members of the Melville family had been implicated in the murder of the archbishop

In the 1690's George Melville, 1st Earl of Melville decided to build himself a new house in the fashionable Classical style to be called Melville House. For many years the Palace of Monimail was retained as a picturesque garden folly, until in the 1820's the family decided to landscape their policies and the palace was pulled down leaving only the tower as an element in the designed landscape.

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