Photograph of a horse and groom in the stables courtyard
 

Heritage

Why is our heritage important?

The cultural importance of Cambo is nationally recognised by inclusion in the Inventory of Designed Landscapes, and by the B-listed status (more than local importance) of the stables The integrity of the design remains intact and clearly identifiable.

The Inventory states that the site is included because it is a good example of late 18th/early 19th century coastal policies embracing model farms, picturesque estate layout, golf course and gardens of botanical and horticultural interest. Its horticultural significance is rated as Outstanding, and all other categories including Work of Art, Historical, Architectural, Scenic, Nature Conservation and Archaeological are rated as High.

Who is our heritage important to?

The heritage of Cambo is important to historians. It has recently been established from documentary evidence that the Fife born, Edinburgh trained architect Robert Balfour (in conjunction with the local architect/builder, John Corstorphine) was commissioned by the 9th Earl of Kellie to extend Cambo House in 1795. Balfour and Corstorphine may also have designed the stables, dovecote, mausoleum and dairy, and Cambo and East Newhall Farms.

The work at Cambo is Balfour's earliest identifiable commission in Fife, where he later worked on a number of country houses, but most notably became the principal architect of late Georgian St Andrews, introducing the Edinburgh New Town style to the town and becoming a crucial figure in its early nineteenth century regeneration and development. His parallel career as a timber merchant in St Andrews from the late 18th century is undoubtedly linked to Kellie's extensive experience as a merchant in Sweden.

The project to use the Coach House and Stables buildings to support the work of Cambo Institute and Cambo Gardens will:

  1. Give interpretation of the heritage of the estate, the buildings, life in times gone by and satisfy public demand for this.
  2. Safeguard the future of Cambo Gardens – an important heritage walled garden with unusual features, glasshouses of historic interest, a unique plant collection and a garden which provides much sought after student traineeships
  3. Enable more people to get involved and participate, appreciate and learn from the heritage of Cambo
  4. Safeguard the future of the buildings which form an integral part of a nationally important designed landscape, have original fittings and are virtually unchanged since they were built.

Visitors to Cambo often comment that it is like ‘living history’. They relish the heritage, family involvement, and feeling of continuity created by the steady improvements and development over the last 35 years.

Cambo is now important to so many people and the potential is there to make it an exciting and vibrant opportunity for many more people to share in the heritage of an ever-evolving estate carefully stewarded but with the heritage conserved.

Research has continued by trustees into the historic and architectural importance of the estate and buildings and into the social side through research of the Cambo archives plus an interview with a Willie Greig, last of the Greig family who worked on the estate from 1912 until his brother and head gardener, Jack, died in 2002.  Trustee Robin Evetts has offered to write a guidebook on the family and estate, drawing on all the material that is available.

 

The site is also important because of its continuing association with the Erskine family after more than three centuries, and their current positive stewardship and discrete development of its horticultural interest. The family involvement, interest and presence is much commented on and appreciated by visitors. Moreover, most of the buildings remain in near original condition.

In recent years, since the gardens were opened to the public in 1985, the estate has become a much loved community asset. Open to the public daily throughout the year the gardens and woodlands are much visited by local people and tourists. The newly formed Friends of Cambo Gardens feel ownership and give support to projects at Cambo and have created a demand and desire for greater involvement and learning opportunities.

Horticultural students appreciate the rare opportunity provided by a heritage garden open to the public which offers extensive learning opportunities. Cambo Gardens has for many years afforded opportunities for volunteers, supported employees and student gardeners and trainees to join in the work in the gardens and woodlands.
The recently active Cambo Institute has provided many more opportunities for volunteers to become involved.