A brief history of Balgonie Castle
The lands of Balgonie have probably been inhabited for thousands of years. The name evolved from the Pictish meaning Settlement of the Smiths, probably silversmiths. In 1155 the whole of the Leven vally, from Loch Leven to the Firth of Forth was erected in to the Lordship of Strathleven for the Earl of Fife. He probably gifted Balgonie to his principal law officer, who bore the name Sibbald.
The Sibbalds were to become the hereditary Sheriffs of Fife. Sir Duncan Sibbald of Balgonie received a Papal Bull create a Chapel at Balgonie in 1250. The great Tower was probably built in the early 1300s and is the oldest complete tower standing in Fife.
Balgonie passed to the Lundie family by marriage. Sir Robert Lundie of Balgonie was Lord High Treasurer of Scotland. He built the Hall House in 1496. On the 20th of August that year Balgonie was visited by James IV who was so impressed with the new work that he gave the masons 18 shillings. Sir Robert was killed along with his master and friend at the Battle of Flodden. The Lundie family were one of the largest land owners in Fife but lost everything through a wicked stepmother. The last Laird was put to the horn and ended up in the Toll Booth in Edinburgh.
Balgonie was sold to two sons of Sir David Boswell of Balmuto. However, their creditors sold Balgonie to Sir Alexander Leslie in 1635.
Leslie was probably Scotland's greatest General. He served in the Dutch Army before spending thirty years in the Swedish Army, rising to the rank of Field Marshal. He retired back to Scotland just in time for the Civil Wars and was appointed General, later Lord General of the Scottish Army.
In 1640 he was raised to the Peerage with the titles of Earl of Leven and Lord Balgonie. He had a great deal of work carried out to Balgonie, probably also re-shaping the gatehouse and raising the Hall House by another floor.
The 3rd Earl was also a General, he raised the Regiment that was to become the King's Own Scottish Borderers. He was also Secretary of State for Scotland and the 1st Governor of the Bank of Scotland.
The 3rd Earl also added the last part to Balgonie, a three story range on the east side. This was mainly bedrooms the school room and nursery on the top floor.
In January 1716 the infamous Rob Roy garrisoned Balgonie for the Jacobite cause, along with up to two hundred MacGregors. Balgonie was sold by the 8th Earl of Leven in 1824, to Sir James Balfour of Whittingham, great grandfather of A.J. Balfour, 1st Earl Balfour and Prime Minister (1902-05). The Balfours expanded the coal deposits, which had been mined since the middle ages. The Balfours tried to lease the castle out but there were no takers. The roof was taken off to avoid the Roof Tax.
In 1971 the castle was sold to Mr David Maxwell who carried out some major restoration work to the Tower. In 1985 Balgonie was sold to the Morris family. The Morris' have been carrying out a long term restoration project ever since, without the aid of any public money. The Great Hall was the first to be restored, followed by the Chapel (which has been hired out for weddings since 1989). More recently the 1496 kitchen has been restored in to another reception room and renamed the Lundie Hall, after Sir Robert Lundie who had it build.