The Historic Schoolhouse and the Connections to Craufaurd Priory
The Cottages are nestled in Howe of Fife, a well connected and rural location. They were built in the early 18th century and it is suspected that the building site dates back as far as medieval times as there was a settlement in the area. In 1901, the cottages were sold to the Board of Education and one of them converted into a school house for the local children, to which it served until 1953. The land that the property sits upon was used as the school yard for the children. Remnants of school life such as children's dolls and toys have been found in the nearby fields. In 1953, both properties were sold to J and S Patterson, and subsequently to Annie J. Mitchell, who was responsible for the current conversion of both cottages. Annie had a knack for design, and managed to acquire wood that you will see inside both cottages from the then Craufaurd Priory (1751). Annie owned the Annfield Hotel, which is located in the local area. She was a Los Angeles native and subsequently returned to California, after redesigning the school house and cottage. She frequently returned for visits to her beloved Scotland with her husband Norman. Norman was a tailor to the stars of Hollywood, such as Frank Sinatra, and locals frequently would have sightings of limousines driving through the local village with a celebrity coming to recharge and stay in the peaceful retreat of the cottage. Annie and her husband Norman's initals can found above the door of the cottage.
Craufaurd (Crawford) Priory is well worth a visit. It is located outside Springfield, and is sadly, a magnificent ruin. You are still able to access the grounds of the property.
Originally built as Crawford Lodge by the 21st Earl of Crawford in 1758, it was substantially enlarged and extended in the early nineteenth century by a sister of the 22nd Earl, Lady Mary Lindsay Crawford.
Lady Mary engaged architects David Hamilton, and then James Gillespie Graham, to redesign the building in the gothic style, adding buttresses, turrets and pinnacles effecting the look of a priory, although it had had no religious history.
Lady Mary's heirs, the Earls of Glasgow, further developed the house. In 1871 the 6th Earl of Glasgow built a chapel in the east front. However huge debts forced the 7th Earl to sell off all his estates in order to retain the family seat at Kelburn, near Largs.
The house then passed to the politician Thomas Cochrane, son-in-law of the 6th Earl of Glasgow. An outlying estate at Priestfield was sold out of the family to the Martin (later Martin Smith Martin and Martin Smith) family at this time. Cochrane was created Baron Cochrane of Cults in 1919. Further remodelling was undertaken in the 1920s by Reginald Fairlie, including the removal of the porte cochere to the west front. After the death of the 2nd Baron in 1968 the house was closed, and gradually fell into disrepair, and subsequently the roof was removed due to the cost of upkeeping such a large building that needed a lot of repair. Sadly, a fire took hold in 1996 and destroyed what was left of the gothic design. The only remaining wood from the priory is installed in both cottages.