Prestige Estate: Fife Tower of Strength hides a secret

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages

Surprisingly, the apartment is a new building that is only 25 years old. It was built in 1998 by its client James Clark using traditional methods. Spectacular as it is, however, a tower in this style was not his original idea.

He says: “We were very lucky to find the beautiful property. There was an old dilapidated smithy on the property, so we could prove that a building had previously stood here.

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“But our house plans were very contemporary and we came up against the council, which had more conservative ideas.

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages

“To create the big house we wanted — which made the most of the site — we realized the only way was to go traditional and go upstairs by building a tower.”

Architect Ian Grant was brought on board and the two made a convincing case with the new application. James recalls: “We quoted older towers, Lundin Tower [constructed in the 19th Century and B-listed] is only four miles away and there is a ruin of another tower just down the road.”

Luckily, the planning department chimed in and the result is a home with a contemporary interior and an age-old aesthetic on the outside. Every part of the building is new including the adjoining brick building.

The tower has three floors. On the ground floor there is a large eat-in kitchen, on the first floor a drawing room and upstairs the master bedroom with two dressing rooms, a detached bathroom, a sitting area and an interior balcony with lovely views across the Firth of Next to Arthur’s Seat.

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages

The two-story portion of the home contains a living room and family room separated by folding doors so they can be combined into one massive entertaining space. The family room is equipped with a home cinema.

Pirwindy features the latest technology, engineered floors, double glazing and improved insulation in ceilings, floors and walls, but its structure is rooted in traditional methods and materials.

James explains: “The stone came from Freuchie – from the old train station. The stonemasons were specialists, many were at the end of their careers, i.e. master craftsmen.

“Even the driveways are old cobblestones, repurposed from an Edinburgh slaughterhouse, so there’s nothing here to suggest it’s new.

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages

“I’ve built many beautiful buildings, but as a house, this is quite an achievement.”

It really is. James’ colleagues often ask to see the Keep – he has received groups of architects interested in looking around a traditionally built modern mansion and studying the methods used.

But one of his favorite criticisms came from a visitor who was called out shortly after Pirwindy was completed.

She was old and had lived in Canada but had roots in the immediate area. James recalls: “She banged on the door and seemed quite distressed. She said, “I think I’m going insane, I thought I grew up in a cottage down the road, but that may be because that tower wasn’t here.”

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages

“When I explained to her that it was new, she was very relieved.”

James has four children, all of whom grew up in the Keep, and says: “Living here has made us feel special, it’s just one of those places. It is by no means just the house, but the surroundings.

“You can hear the water everywhere, the deer come into the garden every day along with foxes and badgers, and the birdsong is unreal.”

The kids have grown and now James is ready to move with his partner Leah Livingstone.

He says he’s looking for another project – but maybe a smaller one.

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife, is priced at over £1.95m.

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages

For more information, contact Savills on 0131-247 3738

Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages
Pirwindy Keep, from Largo, Fife. Image: DTXimages

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