Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Former Fife and Kinross District Asylum - main block, north lodge and gatepiers, former workshop outbuilding to north, and convalescent ward to northwest - excluding all interiors and all post 1914 additions and all other buildings on the site, Stratheden Hospital, Springfield, CuparLB52503

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NO 34957 13237
334957, 713237


Former Fife and Kinross District Asylum (Stratheden Hospital after 1948) by Peddie & Kinnear (1863-1870) including the main asylum block (1863-66), the small former workshop outbuilding (1866) to the north of the main block, the north lodge and gatepiers (1866) and the detached former female convalescent ward and refractory (1869-70) to the northwest of the main block. The buildings are all constructed from pale, squared and snecked, rock-faced sandstone with tooled ashlar dressings.

Main asylum block (1863-66 with additions in 1888 and 1912-14): Located to the north of the Stratheden Hospital site, this is a large, two-storey, multiple-bay building built to a symmetrical, elongated 'T' plan. Former male and female ward blocks extend to the east and west, with 'H' plan double-gabled end pavilions. The building has a battered base course, inclining inwards on all its faces to the height of the window sills. There are round and segmental-arched windows with key-stoned hood-mouldings. The eaves have moulded cast iron rhones set on ornamental brackets, their line broken by wall-head gables. The central block was extended to the south slightly in 1888 following a fire, and two small advanced wings with pedimented dormers were added to either side of the north elevation central block between 1912 and 1914. The windows are a mix of timber sash and case and uPVC replacements, all with multi-pane glazing patterns. Some chimney stacks and decorative timber ventilators survive at the roof pitch and gable ends. The roof is covered with grey slate. There is a levelled forecourt to the north (entrance) side of the building.

North lodge and gatepiers (1865-66): A single-storey, broadly rectangular-plan gabled lodge at the north entrance of the hospital site. It has overhanging eaves with timber brackets and bargeboards, timber doors, timber sash and case windows and cast-iron rainwater goods. The roof has grey slates and coped ridge chimney stacks. To the west of the lodge are a pair of square-plan stone gatepiers with rounded caps and a diamond motif to each face.

Former workshop outbuilding (1863-66): This single-storey, square-plan outbuilding (currently used as a chaplaincy centre, 2019) is sited on a raised levelled terrace to the northeast of the north entrance forecourt. It has timber sash and case windows and a piended roof with grey slates. The small outshot to the west elevation is part of the initial 1863 design. Later store additions adjoining the east elevation are excluded from the listing.

Former female convalescent ward and refractory (1869): Located to the northwest of the main asylum block. Detached, two-storey, thirteen-bay, I-plan ward block with slightly advanced asymmetric double gables to outer bays. It has large timber sash and case windows and the roof is covered with grey overlapping slate tiles.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing:

All interiors, all post 1914 additions and all other buildings on the hospital site.

Statement of Special Interest

The earliest buildings at Stratheden Hospital (former Fife and Kinross District Asylum) were built between 1863 and 1870. They are an important surviving example of the initial phase of district asylums, built as a direct consequence of the seminal 1857 Lunacy Act in Scotland.

The symmetrical arrangement and the innovative plan form of the early main buildings can still be identified. The buildings are typically plain but well-constructed from quality materials. They were designed by a renowned architectural practice led by the leading architects in Scotland in civic and public institution building during the mid-19th century.

The main asylum block (1863-66) is the principal building of this historic group. It is centrally located and is functionally associated with the other buildings designed as part of the first phases of construction including the north lodge, workshop and the convalescent ward building.

The north lodge, gatepiers and former workshop (1866) are all part of the initial phase of construction, using the same rock-faced stone as the main block. They are intervisible with the main block and form key components of the early development of the site.

The detached female convalescent and refractory ward (1869) to the northwest also uses the same rock-faced stone. It is an early example of a detached ward building at a district asylum in Scotland. It is also evidence of first superintendent John Batty Tuke's progressive influence on asylum life and patient care at Fife and Kinross between 1866 and 1873 (see Close Historical Associations below for further information).

Age and Rarity

Fife and Kinross District Asylum historical development

The Fife and Kinross District Asylum (known as Stratheden Hospital from 1948) was designed during the first phase of newly instituted district asylums to be built in Scotland, of which five were initially built. The site has been in continuous use as a psychiatric hospital facility since the early 1860s and has been greatly expanded over a 150 year period.

The rural site at Springfield, located 2km southwest of the town of Cupar, was purchased in around 1858 by the newly established District Lunacy Board. Edinburgh architects Peddie & Kinnear were appointed by the board following a competition for the building's design in 1861. There was some delay in proceeding with the scheme while amendments to the recently introduced Lunacy (Scotland) Act of 1857 were being considered. Plans were finally drawn in 1863, and in 1864 the laying of the foundation stone was witnessed by 'a vast number of spectators numbering between 3000 and 4000' (Dundee Advertiser 1864). The main asylum block along with detached laundry and workshop blocks on a symmetrical plan, and the detached lodge and entrance gates to the north, were all completed by 1866, providing accommodation for '200 pauper lunatics' (Board of Commissioners in Lunacy Report, 1866). An Asylum Home Farm was built at the south side of the site between 1866 and 1870, to be worked and tended by convalescing male patients. In 1869 a female convalescent ward was built beside the laundry block, northwest of the main asylum building, so that convalescing patients could, by choice, undertake paid occupational therapy as part of their recovery process. A male convalescent ward (demolished 1960s) was built along similar lines beside the Asylum Home Farm in 1869.

Expansion continued to occur at the Fife and Kinross District Asylum due to increasing patient intake and various legislative and procedural changes which led to overcrowding. A detached ward block was built towards the northwest corner of the site in 1879. A hospital or 'infirmary' range (to the south of the 1866 block) was built in 1893. Hospital ward wing were added to either side in 1902, with further additions in 1912-14. The infirmary hospital range and its ward additions have not been in use since the late 20th century.

Expansion at the hospital after 1914 includes detached ward blocks, annexes, psychiatric units, staff accommodation, service buildings, stores and vehicle tenders. These buildings reflect legislative changes as well as evolving models of care throughout the 20th century and into the present (2019). Key pieces of legislation include the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act 1913, which made changes to the way patients were categorised, and the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929, which abolished the district Boards of Control and placed the mental hospitals in the charge of the County Councils. The National Health Service (NHS) Act 1947/48 brought in significant new measures and organisational restructuring throughout Scotland. In July 1948 the Fife and Kinross District Asylum changed its name to Stratheden Hospital. The site is owned by NHS Fife and currently continues in use as a psychiatric hospital (2019).

Buildings for mental health in Scotland (late 18th to the early 20th centuries)

Provision for the mentally ill in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Scotland was largely catered for by seven asylums, mostly purpose-built by Royal Charter, as well as asylum wards incorporated within local poorhouses and prisons. 'Pauper lunacy' care at that time was charitably and publically funded and embedded within the structure of poor relief. The existing Acts of Parliament relating to the regulation, confinement and treatment of the mentally ill were ambiguously worded and difficult to administer. Patients suffering various degrees of mental illnesses were often housed together without segregation. The concept of classification of cases along 'medical and non-medical' lines had also yet to be established.

The first chartered asylum was the Montrose Royal in 1781 (demolished). This was followed in 1800 by Royal Cornhill, Aberdeen (largely demolished), the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in 1813 (of which Mackinnon House, 1839-67, LB27718, category B, survives) and the Dundee Royal in 1820 (demolished). Both the former James Murray Royal Asylum, Perth (1827, LB39321, category A) and the former Crichton Royal Asylum, Dumfries (1839, LB3839, category A) were funded by individual benefactors and are the earliest, largely intact asylums to survive in Scotland. Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow (1842, LB32318, category A) replaced the Glasgow Royal Asylum (demolished), while the last, Sunnyside Montrose (LB17752, category B) was built in 1857 to replace the Montrose Royal. These institutions were increasingly criticised due to concerns of 'overcrowding and neglect' (Building Up Our Health 2010).

During the mid-19th century there was an important change in the prevailing attitudes toward the treatment of the mentally ill, encouraged by a number of significant pieces of legislation. The seminal Lunacy (Scotland) Act of 1857 was the most significant, influencing the buildings for psychiatric care for the next hundred years. Possibly the most important aspect of the Act was the division of Scotland into 15 administrative districts each with its own lunacy board. The General Board of Commissioners in Lunacy were charged with providing publically funded asylum buildings for the poor, making progressive recommendations relating to patient care and control, and recording accurate statistics.

The early district asylums were planned and organised in ways that attempted, where possible, to make 'asylum life resemble ordinary life' (Ross 2014). The Commissioner for Lunacy for Scotland from 1857 to 1870 was William Browne whose moral approach to illness advocated kindness, discipline, routine and therapeutic occupation.

The Argyll and Bute District Asylum (LB48640, category B) at Lochgilphead was the first to open in 1863. Perth (largely demolished) and Inverness (LB8037, category B) followed in 1864 and then Banff (LB3238, category B) in 1865. Haddington (LB48292, category C) and Fife and Kinross both opened in 1866. Ayrshire (now Ailsa Hospital, not listed) and Stirling (largely demolished) followed in 1869. As the district asylums in Scotland were funded from the rates, this initial wave of district asylum buildings were all built on modest lines with little scope for architectural embellishment (Richardson and Stell, 2003).

By 1871 the Lunacy Board recognised that advances had been made by moving away from mechanical restraint towards more progressive forms of patient care including greater autonomy and freedom of movement, and the use of employment and recreational-based treatments as aids to recovery and reintegration into society. By 1878 the Lunacy Board had begun to question 'whether the constant expansion of the asylum system' was detrimental to further progress (Halliday 2003). The late 1880s and early 1890s saw a number of additional hospital (infirmary) wards built at Scottish asylums. The 'hospitalisation' of the asylums was part of moves to further distinguish and classify types of mental illness, separating 'incurables' from the medically treatable. The transition away from the institutional approach to asylum planning saw the introduction of more dispersed site plans, with asylum buildings designed on a more domestic scale. The last of the 21 Scottish district asylums were planned from the outset on the new dispersed villa or 'colony' model from Germany and Belgium. These were Glasgow (Gartloch) in 1896, Edinburgh (Bangour) in 1898 and Renfrew (Dykebar) in 1909.

Summary of age and rarity of the Fife and Kinross District Asylum

The first phases of construction at the Fife and Kinross District Asylum coincides with the early development of this building type in Scotland. The buildings designed and constructed during the 1860s were among the earliest of the newly instituted district asylums to be built in Scotland. Planned from 1857 and designed from 1861 these buildings were innovative and illustrate, in built form, the significant change to provision for the mentally ill. Deliberately designed in a modest and economical manner, the main asylum block and its early associated ancillary buildings survive largely intact. They are one of a small number of district asylum buildings in Scotland whose design and plan form interest can still be identified, representing the important first phase of district asylum construction, a direct consequence of the seminal Lunacy (Scotland) Act of 1857. As such, it has rarity within its building type.

The detached and later buildings at Stratheden are largely typical examples of their building types and typical of hospital expansion and alteration during the 20th century. The later buildings are not considered to carry the same level of interest as the important initial phases of construction at the site during the 1860s, and therefore do not meet the criteria for listing. For this reason, these buildings are excluded from the listing.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interiors of all the buildings proposed for listing were seen in 2013. Little change to the interiors is understood to have taken place since that date. The main asylum block has a central recreation hall on the first floor, with windows facing the distant hills to the south. Elsewhere, the interior spaces and fixtures and fittings have been substantially altered or are plain. The board room within the main central block has not been seen (2019). There is no special interest under this heading in listing terms. The interiors are legally excluded from the listing.

Plan form

There is significant interest and innovation in the plan form of the main block as the earliest illustration of asylum planning for which Peddie & Kinnear were leading designers. The symmetrical T-plan (with H-plan end pavilions) of the main asylum block is still largely intact and readable in its moderately altered form. The main block plan specifically provided for all the principal functions of the hospital and set out staff (matron and surgeon) accommodation in the end pavilions, dining and leisure in the central block and patient accommodation in the wings (Walker 2002). The early formal layout plan of the site is also intact with the most significant ancillaries forming a functionally related group that is also still clear on the ground.

The plan forms of the early Scottish district asylums can be usefully compared with those of the poor houses of the 1850s and early 1860s, a number of which were also designed by Peddie & Kinnear. Although designed for different circumstances, both the poor houses and the district asylums were laid out on symmetrical "T" or "E" plans, providing segregated accommodation for male and female patients (Walker, 2002). The layout of the lodge and gatepiers on the north approach with flanking symmetrical service buildings is emblematic of the poor house and district asylum designs by Peddie and Kinnear during the late 1850s and early 1860s.

A crucial distinction between the poor houses and early district asylums was that the poor houses presented a long symmetrical frontage, usually open to public view, with the main 'front' dictating the internal arrangement of space to a greater degree. In contrast, the early district asylums were more inward, back-to-the-road arrangements than the earlier poor houses, with the accommodation wings set well back to form a long frontage (Walker 2002). The early district asylums also had more sophisticated classification and segregation of 'curable' and 'incurable' patient types, and a higher provision of single rooms.

The plan form of these new district asylums was a design-led decision determined by the intended function of the building, rather than by the elevational architectural design. The dormitory and ward blocks at Fife and Kinross had airy south-facing rooms with windows looking onto private grounds and out towards the countryside and distant hills, reflecting the new health-giving approaches to patient psychology and recovery. The layout at Fife and Kinross was similar to that of Peddie & Kinnear's district asylum at Haddington (Hermandflat Hospital, LB48292, also built in 1866) with forecourt, lodge, laundry and workshop to the north, but the main building was considerably larger with advanced 'H-plan' end-pavilions containing infirmary and refractory wards.

The inward, south-facing plan form arrangement is also evident at the detached female convalescent and refractory ward (1869) located to the northwest of the main asylum block, shown on the early plans of the asylum by the architects.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The main asylum block (1863-66) has a plain Italianate (classical) style and minimal architectural treatment. 'Efficiency with economy' was the direction of the Lunacy Board (Fife Herald 1866) who wished to avoid accusations of building 'pauper palaces' with public funds. The design is simply proportioned and detailed with chamfered openings, segmental windows and raised quoins, and shows considerable effort in achieving a building of some architectural quality within a limited budget, with 'as much variety as gables and bays could provide' (Building Up Our Health 2010). While the lack of architectural embellishment is consistent with it being a publically funded institution, the use of a battered base course, inclining inwards on all its faces to the height of the window sills is a considered architectural treatment.

The north lodge, gatepiers and former workshop (1866) are all part of the earliest phase of construction, using the same rock-faced stone as the main block. They are intervisible with the main block and form key components of the early development of the site. The detached female convalescent and refractory ward (1869-70) to the northwest uses the same rock-faced stone as the main asylum block.

These early buildings form an important grouping that directly illustrates the asylum building type, designed according to the principles of new legislation for the mentally ill in Scotland in the mid19th century.

Based in Edinburgh, the partnership of John Dick Peddie and Charles George Hood Kinnear lasted from 1856-78 and was one of the most prestigious and successful practices in Scotland at the time. They were the leading designers of large institutional buildings and were recognised for their innovation in the planning and design of these building types. The 1860s saw the commissioning of a remarkable amount of new institutional architecture for health in Scotland, with Peddie & Kinnear very much at the forefront of the innovative new thinking regarding patient wellbeing. The slightly earlier poor houses by the practice, including Stirling (1855), Inveresk (1860) and East Linton (1863) were equally plain in their architectural detailing but shared some of the characteristics in terms of their symmetrical plan form and arrangement of internal function. The former Fife and Kinross District Asylum is a very plain example of their output, but it survives largely intact to exterior and retains its symmetrical plan form. The architectural detailing is restrained in line with most district asylums of the initial wave (1863-1870), including the asylum at Haddington by Peddie & Kinnear (LB48292, category C) which also opened in 1866.


The main asylum block and core early ancillaries of the former Fife and Kinross District Asylum are situated to the north side of the large hospital complex, which is itself set within a rural location around 1 km to the southwest of Cupar. While the immediate setting of these buildings has been altered by the expansion of the hospital itself, the overall rural setting together with elements of the landscaped grounds remain legible and contribute to the interest of the buildings in listing terms.

District asylums and other purpose-built hospitals of the 19th century were typically set within rural environments, with grounds laid out in the manner of a modest country estate, together with areas set aside for recreation and other outdoor pursuits. Country air, exercise, and views beyond the institution's perimeter were all considered health-giving, and part of the recovery process.

At Stratheden, the large, roughly square plot of land, already partly bounded by trees, was chosen specifically to allow for later expansion (Ordnance Survey 1854). Building work from the later 19th century onwards was accompanied by work to add planting, make a curling pond, and create other garden and recreational grounds. The land slopes down to the south, and views from the south elevation of the main block extend over the River Eden valley to the hills beyond.

The steady expansion of the built elements of the hospital and changes to its associated landscape mean that the earlier setting of the district asylum buildings has been altered. In particular, as seen from the main road, the hospital site is bordered with a number of later service buildings. Elsewhere, however, the setting remains in evidence, and includes areas of open parkland, an avenue of trees on the south approach, and the partially surviving footprints of recreational grounds. This contributes to an understanding of how the former district asylum was designed to function, and also means that the symmetry and arrangement of the early main buildings can still be identified. The large infirmary and later additional ward blocks (built 1893-1914) are part of the setting of the earlier buildings.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance.

The building has a close social-historical association with a person who was directly involved in the development of mental health care in Scotland during the 19th century. The first chief physician and superintendent at Fife and Kinross District Asylum (between 1866 and 1873) was John Batty Tuke (1835-1913). Tuke is important in the history of British psychiatry because of the progressive 'open-door' policy which he pioneered. Under the initiative of Tuke, the Fife and Kinross asylum began a pioneering 'open door' policy. This allowed patients to enter and leave the building as they pleased during the day. Other asylums followed suit during the 1870s. The practice was regarded as a distinct feature of the Scottish asylum system and was championed by the Lunacy Board commissioners, generating both national and international interest (Halliday 2003). The detached female convalescent ward and refractory (1869-70) at Fife and Kinross is where the open door policy was first employed in Britain (Fife Herald 1870; Ross 2014).

When Dr Tuke retired in 1873, the local health commissioner reported that under his care the hospital had seen "a steady progressive improvement" and achieved a "very prominent place among the asylums of Scotland" (Records of Stratheden Hospital, Fife Direct).




Canmore: CANMORE ID: 170914


Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1854, published 1855). Fife, Sheet 10 (includes: Abdie; Collessie; Creich; Cupar; Dunbog; Monimail), 6 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1893, published 1895). Fifeshire XIII.7 (Ceres; Cults; Cupar; Monimail), 25 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1912, published 1914). Fifeshire XIII.7 (Ceres; Cults; Cupar; Monimail) 25 inches to the mile. 3rd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.


National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, Dick Peddie and McKay Collection, Ref: DPM 1860/12/7 [accessed 2019].

St Andrews University Library, James Gillespie and Scott Archive, Ms37778b -Bundle Nos 881, 961, 1339, 1452-9, 1550-3, 2401 [accessed 2019].

Printed Sources

Dundee Advertiser (04/08/1864) Laying of the Foundation Stone of the Fife and Kinross District Asylum, p.3.

Fife Herald (23/02/1865) Fife and Kinross Lunacy Board - Minutes, p.2.

Fife Herald (21/06/1866) Inspection of the Fife and Kinross Lunatic Asylum, p.2.

Fife Herald (07/07/1870) Opening of the New Buildings at the Fife and Kinross District Asylum, p.2.

Fife Herald (25/05/1871) Inquiry into the Alleged Extravagance of the Fife and Kinross District Lunacy Board, p.2.

Dundee Evening Telegraph (19/05/1888) Fire at Fife and Kinross District Asylum, p.3.

Dundee Courier (22/07/1891) Fife and Kinross Lunacy Act Board - The New Buildings, p.2.

Burntinshaw K and Burt J (2017) Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots – A History of Insanity in Nineteenth Century Britain. South Yorkshire: Pen and Sword Books Ltd, pp.88-96.

Gifford, J (1992) The Buildings of Scotland – Fife. London: Penguins Books Ltd, p.412.

Historic Scotland, (2010) Building up our Health: The Architecture of Scotland's Historic Hospitals, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland. p.36.

Pride, G L (1999) The Kingdom of Fife – An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Edinburgh: Rutland Press, p.105.

Richardson H and Stell G (2003) Health and Welfare - Lunatic Asylums in Stell G, Shaw J, Storrier S (Ed.) A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, Volume 3 - Scotland's Buildings. East Lothian: Tuckwell Press, p.319-325.

Walker, D. W. (2002) Peddie and Kinnear. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of St Andrews.

Online Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Stratheden Hospital - [accessed 2019].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Peddie and Kinnear – [accessed 2019].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Gillespie and Scott – [accessed 2019].

Fife Direct, Archives & Local Studies, Records of Stratheden Hospital - [accessed 2019].

Halliday, E C. (2003) Themes in Scottish Asylum Culture. The Hospitalisation of the Scottish Asylum 1880-1914, Phd Thesis, University of Stirling [accessed 2019].

Richardson, H - Mental Hospitals in Scotland, An Architectural Gazetteer - [accessed 2019].

Ross, Kim A. (2014) The Locational History of Scotland's District Lunatic

Asylums, 1857-1913. PhD thesis, Glasgow University - [accessed 2019].

Sturdy, H. (1996) Boarding-out The Insane, 1857-1913: A study of the Scottish System, PhD Thesis, Glasgow University - [accessed 2019].

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Former Fife and Kinross District Asylum, former female convalescent block, south elevation, looking north during daytime.
Former Fife and Kinross District Asylum, Main asylum block, north elevation, looking south during daytime


Map for LB52503

Printed: 21/05/2024 14:49