“ Address: Maygate / Dunfermline / Fife / KY12 7NE / Scotland / Tel: 01383 733266 „
Abbot House in Dunfermline's Maygate was built in the mid 1400's and survived the great fire of Dunfermline in 1625 making it Dunfermline's oldest building. It was restored in the 1990s and painted pink as this was the original colour of the building and is now a heritage centre and is run largely by volunteers who will give you a guided tour around this fascinating building.
Abbot House was first used as the administrative headquarters of the Benedictine Abbey founded by Queen Margaret and was the home of the Abbot of Dunfermline and if gossip can be believed then more than one monk haunts the house. Murals from this time period have been lovingly restored in rich vibrant colours and a recreation of the lost head shrine of Saint Margaret takes centre stage in one of the exhibitions.
Moving on and a room is devoted to Lady Anne Halkett, a midwife and herbalist who lived in Abbott house for a period of time and used her herbal remedies to treat the poor writing about her daily life in a series of diaries. Abbot house was again home to healing hands during the first world war when it was used as not only a pilot training school but also a hospital for sick servicemen.
The most modern room in the house is decorated as a 1960's living room would have looked and many of us of a certain age will be able to recognise many of the objects from this room from our childhoods. This room also has an exhibition on the building of the Forth Road bridge which was completed in the 1960's.
As well as the history of the house itself there are exhibitions related to Dunfermline's wider history including witch hunts with some of the instruments of torture on display, the industrial history of Dunfermline especially the linen trade and some of the towns most famous residents like Andrew Carnegie and poet Robert Henryson.
There is also a small tea room on the ground floor, you can visit it without touring the house and it is well known locally for serving excellent light meals and home baking. The small scented gardens are pleasant to walk around or sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee on a nice day and if you are lucky one of the towns famous peacocks might wander in for a visit. The gardens lead into Dunfermline Abbey where you can walk round the ancient graveyards where William Wallace's mother is buried beneath a thorn tree or enter the building where Robert the Bruce and seven other Scottish kings are buried.
Abbot house has seen many things since it was built around 600 years ago and is a house where the great and the good once frequented when Dunfermline was the capital of Scotland and the home of royalty. It has survived fire and wars and it is a really interesting place to visit with the guided tours run by passionate volunteers. The house is unfortunately not suitable for disabled visitors as there are lots of very steep stairs to climb, I don't think it will hold the interest of very young children either.