A historic property in Culross has been given a makeover to help safeguard its future.
The National Trust for Scotland has purchased a vacant house in the heart of the west Fife village, for repair and eventual re-sale under the Little Houses improvement Scheme (LHIS).
The LHIS is the Trust’s in-house building preservation trust, which acquires, repairs and sells on historic buildings that are at risk of being lost.
Bennet House comprises a pair of Category B listed buildings (formed into one property) opposite the Bessie Bar Hall.
It dates from the 17th century and was remodelled in the late 18th century. The lintel inscription of 1791 commemorates the marriage of James Bennet and Euphemia Spittal, and it is their ownership that has given rise to the current house name.
Vacant for 20 years, the buildings are currently in a dangerous condition.
Working closely with the previous owner, and with the support of Fife Council, the Trust has put together a proposal to repair the buildings to form a pair of houses. Once the conservation work is finished the houses will be put on the open market.
The project comes on the back of another Trust residential project in Culross, at 6 & 7 The Cross.
In 2014 the Trust completed the refurbishment of this pair of historic houses, which have been in their ownership since the 1930s. Long-term issues of damp were resolved and the houses reinstated to their traditional arrangement of two houses, separated by a pend.
Sian Loftus, LHIS manager, said: “The Bennet House project, which has taken many months to pull together, is only possible due to the efforts of Fife Council, in particular Sharron Morrison of the Building Standards and Public Safety team, and the generous support of the previous owner.
“We are very grateful to him for allowing us the time to properly assess the building and for supporting the vision of repair under the ‘Little Houses’ banner.
“The acquisition of the buildings by the Trust’s in-house building preservation trust will ensure their rescue and re-use, but it will also offer an unparalleled opportunity for increasing our understanding of the development of the burgh and promoting the conservation and repair of historic buildings.”
The Trust is currently developing plans to run the Bennet House project as a ‘study house’, promoting the Trust’s work in the regeneration of historic burghs and enabling visitors to follow the conservation process over a period of 12-18 months.
The focus of the works this year will be on emergency works, recording, archaeology and historic research.
In parallel with the first phase of the Bennet House project the Trust will be launching an exhibition in the Town House on its ‘little houses’ work in Culross.
Bennet House is due to receive its plaque in autumn 2016, on completion of the repair works, by which time the Trust hopes to have welcomed many hundreds of visitors to ‘Study House’ events and site tours.