Falkland Estate: New Life for Old Buildings

Helen Lawrenson, Director of Centre for Stewardship, shares examples of successfully re-purposing historic buildings for sustainable uses.

House of Falkland Stables

Over the last 10 years Falkland Stewardship Trust, a registered Scottish charity based on the beautiful designed landscape of Falkland Estate has been sympathetically repurposing heritage buildings in its care.

Sitting at the entrance to Falkland Estate, the B-listed House of Falkland Stables has been home to many residents. Originally designed in 1822-4 by John Swinton, additions and improvements were made in 1889 and gradually over time, horses were supplemented then replaced by motor cars. People have always lived or worked at the Stables and today, the Stables is full of activity. There is a combination of tenanted houses, charity and estate offices as well as public spaces for seminars and craft activities. In 2015 we opened up the South Stables as a small Information Hub to welcome people to the Estate. The gardens around the Stables are edible growing spaces looked after by our conservation volunteers and to the west of the Stables we are evolving a tranquil Ceremonial Space to host weddings and other ceremonies, as well as a space for quiet reflection. The courtyard has been transformed with its large circular grassed space. Pop-up restaurant evenings are now hosted in the original stable block where visitors dine in horse booths. Whilst the horses have gone to pasture, the Stables building is still very much thriving.

The sawmill at Chancefield

For centuries the Forest of Falkland has been a place of woodland enterprise. The sawmill at Chancefield was built in the 1890s and operated till the 1970s after which the building went into decline. In 2015 we were fortunate to secure grant funding and working with the Estate’s own maintenance team, we have brought the building back to life.

Today, the main forestry building at Chancefield is home to two of Falkland Stewardship Trust’s exciting programmes: Our Bright Future which is helping young people to develop skills in the rural sector; and Simple Shelters, a pilot project involving participants in the building and use of huts and other simple structures in the environment.  Dotted around Chancefield are smaller huts for artists and crafts people looking to establish a community of skilled makers processing timber and forest products.

Memorial Chapel

“An unfinished building for an unfinished life”, the Memorial Chapel sits in the heart of the designed landscape looking down over the Stables building. The Memorial Chapel was commissioned by Lord and Lady Ninian Crichton Stuart to commemorate their son who died just before his third birthday. The architect was Reginald Fairlie whose family home was the nearby Myres Castle. Work started in 1913 but the building was never complete as Lord Ninian was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Nearly a century after, the Chapel underwent major restoration of its fabric with pointing and a sedum top finish on the walls. Whilst the building continues to remain roofless, it now serves a happier purpose for wedding ceremonies and small musical concerts.

The Temple of Decision

Designed by Alexander Roos for the wealthy estate owners, the Tyndall Bruces, the Temple of Decision was built in 1849 as their summer house. With a grand sweeping stone staircase and four majestic pillars, the Temple would have been one of the most important features within the landscape. Sadly over time, this building fell into decay.  In 2016, thanks to funding through the Living Lomonds Landscape Programme, we were able to work with architect Jonathan Gotelee and stone masons LimeRich and Nic Boyes Stone Conservator to carry out consolidation works. Whilst further decay of the building has now halted, the Trust and its partners have time to consider further works and funding applications – so thinking caps on! What purposes can we imagine for this building…