The History of Belcote Cottage Elie

Belcote Cottage was originally built by in 1850 by John Smith as a smallholding cottage for fishing some livestock. It was one of the earliest properties built in the Liberty area of Elie and originally owned most of surrounding land on which all the houses since have been built.

At that time Elie and Earlsferry were two separate villages. Earlsferry was established first to ferry grain from the high quality farmland nearby over to Edinburgh. Elie developed later once the harbour and granary store were built.

In the 1950s Belcote Cottage was bought from the Smiths by our great aunt ‘Babs’ MacGregor (nee Pollok) and her husband Tom after having spent her summers holidaying there since a child. The cottage remained absolutely unchanged until the1960s when Babs added a small single brick extension to house the kitchen and bathroom. By 2010 much was needed done so we decided to completely renovate and extend the cottage so that two families could comfortably holiday there.

A short history of Elie and Earlsferry

Today most people think of Elie just as one village when it is actually four. The proper name for the village is ‘Elie and The Royal Burgh of Earlsferry’ and even today the tiny number of locals left still regard themselves as ‘Ferry folk’! It was not until 1929 when the two villages united along with the smaller villages of Liberty and Williamsburgh in between, with one local council running all that the ‘The Royal Burgh of Elie and Earlsferry’ came into being.

What is now the village of Earlsferry dates to the mid 12th century when it became the landing place for pilgrims crossing the Firth of Forth on their way to St Andrews and beyond. The village was probably called the “Earl’s ferry” after the benefactor who donated the ferry, the Earl of Fife Macduff.

Earlsferry is called the “Royal Burghs of Earlsferry” because of its connection with the pre- Reformation Church. The ferry between Earlsferry and North Berwick was run by the Cistercian Nuns ferrying a huge number of pilgrims traveling to the Shrine containing relics of St Andrew in the cathedral town of the same St Andrews. In those days the fear of hell and damnation was very real. Pilgrimage, prayer, and donations from those that could afford them, were all ways to avoid the deadly drop!

The only evidence that remains in today are the Chapel ruins on Chapel Green (an old chapel and hospital), the name Grange (as in Grange Farm, Grange Road) and the jumble of rocks and slabs that are the remains of Earlsferry’s ancient pier at the west end of the beach.

Elie in bygone times was a place of some importance for holidaying with antique mansions in a street near the beach. It has for a long time been a place of considerable resort for summer sea bathing, and is even claimed by some as one of the best health resorts, particularly in winter of any place in Scotland. It possesses an excellent natural harbour, much improved by quays and a pier. Elie House, to the NNE of the town was built by William Baird, Esq. towards the close of the 17th century, and is a large edifice in the Renaissance style, with beautiful grounds.

1223-1250 Origin of Burgh privileges

1589 – Earlsferry erected into a Free Royal Burgh

1634 – Elie parish formed

1639 – Elie Parish Church opened

1641 – Parish of Elie was disjoined from that of Kilconquhar

1797 – Elie Post Office opened

1843 – Free Church established in Elie

1863 – Elie Station opens

1870 – Elie becomes a Post Town

1873 – New Earlsferry Town Hall opened

1875 – Earlsferry Thistle Golf Club established

1877 – Original Club House for golf course opened

1878 – Elie Primary School opened

1887 – Free Church renamed Wood Memorial Church

1904 – 1st Marine Hotel fire, hotel burnt to the ground

1905 – Marine Hotel rebuilt

1908 – Elie Ness Lighthouse established

1912 – Pavilion opened

1921 – Elie War Memorial dedicated

1927 – Elie & Earlsferry Councils meet and agree to amalgamate

1929 – Inaugural meeting of joint Council

1931 – Sound films introduced to Earlsferry Cinema

1949 Parish Church and Free Church reunited

1962 – Wood Memorial Church and original Free Church demolished.

1965 – Elie Station closes

1968 – Elie Station burns down

1977 – Parish of Elie re-linked with that of Kilconquhar & Colinsburgh

1983 – 2nd Marine Hotel fire, remains demolished

2008 – Elie Post Office closes