Mount Melville Estate, originally called Craigtoun, was one of the Melville family estates. The Melvilles owned land in Fife land since the 16th century (see Melville House and Raith House).
A mansion house was constructed and grounds were laid out at Craigtoun in 1698 for General George Melville of Strathkiness (see Tourism Resources Company et al.)
By the late 18th century the mansion, known as Mount Melville, had been rebuilt. General Robert Melville (1723-1809) is credited with this and a watercolour of 1796 depicts Mount Melville House's principal elevation of three-storeys and an asymmetrical façade. This illustration, by the Chevalier Le Charron (probably Baron Le Charron 1759-1837, who served under General Melville) appears on a 'Moral Plan' dedicated to General Melville (Tait 1980, p.114). The plan shows an imaginary landscape for Mount Melville, full of imagery expounding a moral scheme and encompassing the ' Gulf of Despair' and the 'Source of Happiness' among many other features. General Melville, an extraordinary man with a distinguished military career, was also an antiquary (he studied some of the Roman camps in Britain) and botanist, the founder of the Botanic Garden at St Vincent. In 1759 he invented the 'carronade', a short heavy gun capable of firing a heavy shot at short range and known as the 'Smasher', which was used by the Royal Navy from its first manufacture in 1779 (at Carron) until the 1820s. Following a mission to France in 1775, to solicit favourable conditions for British settlers in Tobago, Melville travelled on through Switzerland, Italy and elsewhere (Stephen 1993, p.246-7). He seems to have been responsible for major landscape works at Mount Melville, for an account of 1790 mentions 230 trees, purchased and planted by Robert Nairn. Some details of this planting given: fruit trees were planted within the yards at Mount Melville, the varieties and spacing are stated. These orchards contained 24 varieties of apple (70 trees), 7 varieties of pear (14 trees), 3 varieties of plum (6 trees) and 8 cherry trees. Estate plans (dated 1793) and a sketch plan of the gardens document additional planting areas and a range of works completed and proposed. On his death his cousin John Whyte of Bennochy (1755-1813), inherited the property and adopted the name Melville (Millar 1895, p.341).
By 1821, the 18th century mansion had been replaced by a new house designed by James Gillespie Graham for John Whyte-Melville (1797-1883), which may have encased parts of the earlier mansion. This was complemented by grounds laid out by John Nicol, the gardener from Raith (adjacent to the Whyte-Melville's Bennochy property), probably the son of Walter Nicol, and grandson of John Nicol who worked at Wemyss Castle in the 1790s (see Raith; Wemyss Castle; Gardener's Magazine, 1831). Robert Hutchison, a builder and architect from Balgonie, designed the Walled Garden in 1826 (Tourism Resources Company and Land Use Consultants 2002; Colvin 1995, p.525). He had worked with Gillespie Graham on Monimail Church.
The mid 1850s designed landscape (140ha), was divided into north and south parks by Mount Melville House on its central ridge. The parkland boundary formed by the St Andrews Road was tree-lined with the other parkland belts curved in a picturesque style on their inner, parkland sides. This was particularly so in the south park, where the perimeter plantations followed a serpentine form enclosing parkland studded with clumps of varied shapes and sizes, in contrast to the scattered, individual parkland trees in the north park (1855, OS 6"). When John Balfour (1811-93) inherited the estate in 1883, he took the name Melville on the death of his second cousin (George Whyte-Melville). Ten years later his brother James Balfour-Melville (1815-1898), a solicitor, inherited. On his death his son took over but shortly after, in 1901, he sold Mount Melville and moved to Auchencross, Comrie.
The new owner, Dr James Younger of the Younger brewing family, undertook major remodelling of the estate. In 1902 he commissioned Paul W. Waterhouse to design a new house on the existing mansion site. This 'huge pink sandstone Jacobean chateau' had an opulent interior, with the most ornate exterior reserved for the garden façade (Gifford 1992, p.132). Using the same site meant that there was no need for new drives and approaches, thereby the parkland layout was retained, as were the Walled Garden and ancillary estate buildings. Waterhouse laid out formal gardens between 1902-10, mainly south of the mansion; including an Italian Garden, Rose garden and a Cypress Avenue, terminated with a temple. The Walled Garden was remodelled and furnished with a summerhouse. In 1920 a further commission for Waterhouse involved the design of major landscape works, including the creation of a series of lakes with a picturesque Island village, set to the south of the mansion.
In 1947 Mount Melville House along with 47 acres and the East and West Avenues, were bought by Fife County Council for £25,000. Its name was changed to Craigtoun, and the grounds were established as a Country Park. The remainder of the estate continued to be farmed by the Mount Melville Estate. The mansion became a hospital until 1992 when it was sold, together with 330 acres of parkland to the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews who developed the Dukes Golf Course in the west park.
Country Park facilities built since the 1940s include a bowling green, miniature railway, 'White Heather' performance stage, putting green and toilets. More recent additions have been a Children's Zoo, Countryside Rangers Centre, adventure playground, bouncy castle, play facilities and cafeteria. Due to a lack of funding and market changes some of these facilities have been discontinued and Craigtoun House remains empty and on the 'Buildings at Risk' register (2004).