James Smith, 1694; Alexander Gavinlock, mason (see Notes); Thomas Kyle, wright; William Rowan, 'Overserer'. 2-storey and vaulted basement, 7-bay, piend-and-platform-roofed Palladian mansion, with carved pediment (by James Thomson and Alexander Baxter) and cupola (see Notes). 1785, 2-storey and attic, 5-bay, piend-and-platform-roofed pavilions and quadrant links added, and interior remodelled by James Playfair. Post 1895 porch (see Notes), and probably S balcony. Random rubble (formerly harled) with rusticated quoins and ashlar margins. Band course and eaves cornice. Ashlar porch with eaves cornice and blocking course. Pavilions of coursed and roughly squared dark whinstone rubble with contrasting sandstone ashlar dressings; that to W with full-height round-headed arches framing outer bays.
N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: original block to centre. 3 slightly advanced centre bays with 7 steps up to projecting, flat-roofed, single storey porch with pilastered doorway, flanking narrow lights and slightly recessed flanking windows with paired pilaster to outer angles, further window to each return; 2-leaf panelled timber door and plate glass fanlight: 1st floor with 3 windows, and pediment rising above wallhead, tympanum decorated with coat-of-arms flanked by scrolled cartouches. 2 windows to each floor of flanking bays, and regular fenestration at basement level. Flanking quadrant links with tripartite windows to ground and 2 windows to 1st floor.
7-bay pavilion to right with regular fenestration, outer bays slightly advanced, and 2 small traditional piended dormer windows to left of centre.
Pavilion to left also with symmetrical fenestration; return to right with door to left and window to right at basement level, 2 windows above and bipartite window to centre breaking eaves into flat-roofed dormerhead.
S ELEVATION: not seen 1997. Plain rear elevation with panel (date 1694, monogram AM BD) at basement level.
W ELEVATION: 3 tall windows to pavilion, James Playfair, 1785; remaining detail not seen 1997.
E ELEVATION: not seen 1997.
6-, 12-pane and plate glass glazing patterns in timber sash and case windows. Coped ashlar and harled stacks.
INTERIOR: fine classical interior: entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, library (in pavilion) etc. Winding stair with wrought- iron balustrade.
Statement of Special Interest
The following information on the interior of Raith House is wholly extracted from the above-referenced works. Good interior with library in the pavilion wing; largely Playfair's work, with "very smart marble chimneypieces in principal rooms" (Gifford). The 17th century stair has a light wrought-iron balustrade worked with foliage and the coronetted initials of Alexander Melville and his wife Barbara Dundas; James Horne may have been the smith as he was paid for making 'ye ryvell of ye open stair' in 1695 (Gifford). The NSA comments upon the heavily moulded plaster ceiling of what was the entrance hall (p182). Drawings of a top-lit (square or circular cupola) central hall show 4 openings alternating with niches and columns (Macaulay).
James Smith designed two other very similar houses to Raith, namely Newhailes and Strathleven House in Dunbartonshire, but Sir William Bruce may also have been consulted. Raith was the first of the Fife lands to be held by the Melvilles, Earls of Leven and Melville; the house was built for Alexander Melville, Lord Raith, and his wife Barbara Dundas. Acquired by Robert Ferguson in 1725, it was altered and extended by his nephew and heir, William, with whose descendants it remains. Gifford mentions "another mason employed (on fairly minor work) was John Adam, probably William Adam's father". The present porch replaced an Ionic portico of circa 1800, this is illustrated in Millar, p120. The cupola has a weathervane with the initials AM, Macaulay suggests for Alexander Melville, but Bailey associates this with Alexander McGill who worked with James Smith.
Raith Estate lies in Kirkcaldy and Kinghorn parishes, other listed estate properties in Kirkcaldy parish are: Stable Court (Home Farm), Raith Ice House, Raith Tower, Secular Burial Ground, Laundry House, Lambswell, Bankhead of Raith Farmhouse with Walled Garden and Steading.