William Thomas, dated 1946-1955. 4-storey 2-bay tower house with single storey wing to E built on S-facing rocky outcrop. Reclaimed random rubble and ashlar walls, reclaimed and reconstituted moulded stone window and door surrounds.
E ELEVATION: steeply pitched roof to single storey and attic E wing projecting at left from elevation of principal range, narrow vertical central attic window. Principal elevation twin gables clasping parapet corbelled out at centre, window offset from centre in each gablehead. Curved NE corner to entrance/stair tower recessed at right, corbelled out to square at caphouse. Caphouse stair with adjoining stone oriel window corbelled out in re-entrant angle. Round-arched entrance doorway centred at ground, Gibbsian surrounds to windows at 1st and 2nd floors.
N ELEVATION: E wing set back to left, central window with ball-finialled stone dormerhead breaking eaves. Slightly advanced principal range; ground floor window to left, narrow window to right. Large 1st floor window to left, small blind window with moulded lintel to right, attic window breaking eaves to left with corniced flat-roofed stone dormerhead. Advanced stair tower to R with corbelled section in inner angle culminating in small corbelled caphouse with stone cross finial. NE elevation of stair tower; curved corners to ground and 1st floor, corbelled out to caphouse. Gibbsian surround to 1st floor window with memorial plaque set above. Moulded architrave to central caphouse window.
W ELEVATION: rising from rocky outcrop; single bay stair tower integral to elevation at left, door at ground, windows at intermediate levels above. 2 regularly fenestrated bays with crenellated wallhead to right, elevation curving back to adjoin regularly fenestrated 2-storey and attic W gable of principal range.
S ELEVATION: regular fenestration to symmetrical 2-bay elevation of principal range, windows at ground floor, large windows with blind arch-heads at 1st floor, catslide dormers breaking eaves clasping tall central wall head stack. Crenellated wallhead and curved corner to regularly fenestrated single bay end of W range setback to left. Square stone dormer head breaking eaves at centre of single storey E wing to right.
Timber studded entrance door with semicircular fanlight, diamond-paned leaded glazing to fanlight, diamond-paned leaded lights and timber shutter to windows above. Predominantly multi-pane timber sash and case windows. Pitched pantiled roofs with crowstepped gables, M-roof to principal range with square parapet lookout platform at W end of S ridge. Gable apex stacks.
INTERIOR: marble floor to hall, wide concrete newel stair from ground to 1st and 2nd floor with early 19th century timber handrail. Reclaimed 18th century moulded stone door surrounds throughout ground floor with moulded stone mantelpiece to drawing room. Large room to 1st floor (former music room) incorporating reclaimed late 17th and early 18th century features; lugged architraved doorpiece with 3-panelled oak door. Painted timber panelled room with panelled shutters and heavily moulded cornice, later 20th century timber parquet floor. Late 17th century marble mantelpiece flanked by Corinthian pilasters with pair of early 18th century Ionic pilasters opposite. Secret door to centre of E wall leading to small room above single storey E wing. Small partly timber panelled room to W. 2nd floor arranged on split-level; bedrooms to lower and upper level co-joined by short flight of timber steps. Timber stair at stair turret leading from 2nd floor to room at caphouse; timber barrel vault, door to S giving access to lookout platform.
GATE PIERS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: margined gatepiers with rustication to bands and stepped caps, modern carriage lights at apex. Random rubble wall with rounded copes raised in parts enclosing house to N and E.
GARAGE: archway-linking house at N with late 20th century 2-storey, 2-bay crowstepped gabled garage above. Snecked, squared random rubble to principle elevation at E, rendered to remaining elevations. 2 segmentally arched openings at ground floor, windows at 1st floor to each bay, narrow window centred within gable to principal elevation, various openings to remaining elevations. Pitched roof with modern red pantiles.
BOILER HOUSE (FORMER LOG STORE): small random rubble crowstepped lean-to with mono-pitch pantiled roof adjoined to stair tower at W by segmental arched doorway. Centred doorway to S, small window to E.
PUMP HOUSE: classical small brick rectangular-plan building with reclaimed dressed stone details set to lawned area at foot of outcrop to S of house. Segmentally arched doorway to centre; evenly spaced rusticated imposts with architrave and voussoir to door surround. Deep rusticated base course with rusticated long and short quoins to arrises, rusticated eaves course to W and E. Ashlar broken moulded pediment to gable at S. Pitched roof, reclaimed red clay pantiles.
Statement of Special Interest
NOTES: Born in Wolverhampton and educated at Cambridge, William Thomas became the manager of Burntisland Aluminium Works and also ran a burgeoning workshop for building and repairing harpsichords and clavichords at Rossend. In the 1930s Thomas lodged at the mid 16th century Rossend Castle in Burntisland and in 1946 he purchased the site which Easterheughs sits upon. He decided to build a pseudo Scottish tower house as his home and workshop and called on the help of his close friend and fellow music enthusiast John Rhodes. Neither men had any architectural or building training and although they sought some help, the majority of the work is theirs alone, standing as a testament to the remarkable vision and skills they possessed. Thomas also recognised the worth attached to the preservation and re-use of historical building materials and saved much fabric which in the post war period would have otherwise been discarded and lost. The random rubble that makes up the walls came from the nearby villages of High and Low Binns which had been deserted due to the expansion of the aluminium works. Many of the moulded stone window surrounds were salvaged from remnants of the nearby-demolished 16th century Otterson Castle. Many of the roof timbers were fashioned from disused railway sleepers and the pantiles came from Auchtertool distillery.
Thomas and Rhodes- first task was to flatten by hand the craggy rock foundation that Easterheughs sits upon. No scaffolding was used and the building evolved from the bottom up and from the inside out - the niece of Thomas records that "Mr Thomas once joked that they put in lots of windows so that they didn't have to build so much wall" (Mrs Berkley). The E wing was built as a workroom for building and repairing harpsichords and clavichords, it has now been converted to a kitchen (2002).
Although the walls follow the vernacular tradition of being load-bearing stone with lime mortar, the floors and newel stair are concrete. The stair is much broader than those found in tower houses, designed specifically by Thomas so that a breakfast tray could easily be carried up stairs. By the mid 1950s the walls, gables and stacks were complete and Thomas and Rhodes turned their attention to the interior. Rossend Castle at this time had fallen into serious disrepair and facing possible demolition. The council sold Thomas some of the internal fittings for a minimal fee of #6 per load. Many interior features such as the door jambs, cornicing, window surrounds and mantelpieces originate from Rossend. Photographs of Rossend Castle, held at the NMRS show that nearly the entire large room to the 1st floor at Easterheughs uses late 17th century features from 2 separate rooms at Rossend. The room was designed to serve as a music room where Thomas and Rhodes could host musical soirees. According to Mrs Berkley, the proportions of the music room were based on Gibbs- 'Rules for Drawing the Several Parts of Architecture of 1732', the parquet floor drawing inspiration from the floor of the Golden Room at the Louvre. Mr Thomas lived in the house until his death in 1989 with the interior of the 2nd floor still unfinished. The Scottish painter Jack Vettriano lived here in the late 1990s. It is of interest to note that Rossend Castle managed to survive demolition, finally being restored in 1975 by the Robert Hurd and Partners.