Listed Building

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FALKLAND PALACE, ROYAL STABLES AND TENNIS COURTLB8800

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
A
Date Added
01/02/1972
Local Authority
Fife
Planning Authority
Fife
Parish
Falkland
NGR
NO 25393 7653
Coordinates
325393, 707653

Description

1528-31, long rectangular former stable range; rubble with ashlar dressings, narrow windows, crowsteps and slated roof. 1539-41, real tennis court addition to E side of stable: rectangular court surrounded by high walls; internal timber penthouses (spectator galleries) with lean-to roofs to S and E sides.

Statement of Special Interest

The Royal Tennis Court at Falkland Palace is understood to be the earliest surviving real tennis court in the world and is a building of exceptional national significance. It is the only 'roofless' real tennis court in active use and the only surviving example of the earlier jeu quarré court design (with 2 rather than 3 sloping penthouse galleries). The court was built between 1539 and 1541, when the Palace (see separate listing) was remodelled for King James V.

The adjoining former stable range is thought to have been constructed in 1528-31, slightly earlier than the tennis court, making it an early example of its building type connected with a royal palace. It incorporates a horses' provender house, added in 1616 in anticipation of a visit by James VI. The tennis court (also known historically as a caichpule) was restored by John Kinross for Lord Bute in 1895. Further restoration took place in 1955.

Real tennis (also known as Royal or Court tennis) was developed in France in the 12th and 13th centuries and was brought to Scotland in the 16th century through royal ties between the two countries. Sometimes known as 'the Sport of Kings' the game was played almost exclusively by royals. Interest in the game waned somewhat in Scotland after the removal of the monachy to London in 1603. The 19th century saw a more general revival of interest in the game with indoor real tennis courts continuing to be built well into the 20th century.

The term 'real tennis' is of 20th century derivation, coined to differentiate the game from the increasingly popular lawn tennis. Real tennis has a larger court, different rules, strategies, techniques and scoring system. Unusually, architectural elements of the court - the side walls and sloping roofs of the 'penthouses' - are utilised while playing of the game.

The rules of lawn tennis were established in 1874 by Major Walter Wingfield. The adapted court and revised rules used in the lawn game increased the speed of play and it soon became the preferred version for many players.

There are currently less than 50 real tennis courts remaining in the world ' mostly in Britain with others in France, Australia and America. One other example in Scotland is at Crosbie Road in Troon (see separate listing). The Falkland Tennis Court remains in use and is currently home to the Falkland Palace Royal Tennis Club.

List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).

Also a Scheduled Monument, see Scheduled Monument number 854.

References

Bibliography

1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1852). RCAHMS - Inventory 238 (ascribed to 1531-2 period). Sir Iain Moncrieff, Royal Palace of Falkland p 37. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland - Fife (1992) p217.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

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