Balcarres, Scottish home of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres, takes its name from the Gaelic baile carrach, meaning rough or stony settlement. Located in the East Neuk of Fife, not far from the village of Colinsburgh, the house originated as a Z-plan tower in the 16th century, with improvements and extensions taking place over the next three centuries which have substantially altered its appearance, but kept to the Scots Baronial style at its core. The house sits in a prominent position with views over the surrounding countryside and across the Firth of Forth to the Lothians, Bass Rock, the Lammermuir Hills, and the Edinburgh hills. Balcarres commands ‘the enjoyment of pure and fresh air, of proximity to the sea, and a prospect embracing rock and meadow, island and lake, river and ocean, well-nigh boundless…’
The Earl of Crawford is one the most ancient extant titles in Great Britain, created for Sir David Lindsay in 1398, who married a daughter of Robert II. The title has stayed with various branches of the Lindsay family ever since. Alexander Lindsay (1618-1659) was created 1st Earl of Balcarres in 1651, and the 6th Earl of Balcarres, another Alexander Lindsay (1752-1825), sold the estate to his younger brother Robert in 1791, who enlarged the house with a bow-fronted Georgian extension. Subsequent additions and improvements were untaken in the 19th century, the first headed by the Scottish architect William Burn 1839-1843, who greatly enhanced and unified the Scots Baronial design of the house, and later by another Scottish architect, David Bryce 1863-1867, designer of Fettes College. The terraced gardens have long been a celebrated feature of the house, and were described as ‘second only in Scotland to those of Drummond Castle. Their character is truly magnificent…’. The Earldoms of Crawford and Balcarres have been joint since 1848, when James Lindsay, 7th Earl of Balcarres, put forth a claim for the Earldom of Crawford, which had remained dormant since 1808, when the 22nd Earl, George Lindsay-Crawford, died unmarried.
Previous properties owned by the Lindsay family include Haigh Hall, Greater Manchester; Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire; Stepleton House, Dorset; and a townhouse on South Audley Street, London, where some of these pieces are likely to have resided at one time or another.
The objects, furniture, and works of art presented here for sale provide a cross-section of life in a grand country house. Through them we get a glimpse into the public and private lives of the previous generations who called Balcarres home. We get to see the things they collected, as well as the things they used, from the rare and beautiful, like the terracotta figure study of Bacchus and Ariadne by Giuseppe Piamontini (1664-1742), to the everyday objects like the collection of copper kitchen wares. The collection provides us with a rare treat to peek into another world and a time gone by, and it truly captures the spirit we aim to achieve in our Five Centuries auctions.