The Bay Horse Inn
Built by a man evidently possessed of sufficient
means to procure the finest materials, both in wood and stone, and
to employ excellent craftsmen in its construction; which may be two
of the reasons why this building has stood since 1585.
Built for "Patricius Sinclare , filius
potentis viri henrici domini synclare" [Patrick Sinclair,
son of that able man Henry, Lord Sinclair] his initials appearing,
not on the lintel above the doorway as with other Dysart
properties, but on a painted ceiling, revealed during dismantling
work after the removal of a plaster ceiling beneath. A second set of
initials K.N. were also discovered. Patrick Sinclair had a
"new-biggit house" in the year 1585; it was said to be
"juxta templum" [near the church], with the sea on the
South and passages on the East and West. The newly built house was
put in his wife's name, Catherine Nisbet (K.N.) and may have been a
"morrowing gift". It was the custom of the time for the
bridegroom to give to his bride such a present on their wedding
morning. This may have been a kind of insurance policy to protect
and provide for the wife, should the husband die.
Patrick Sinclair was a prominent citizen of Dysart
at the time of its greatest prosperity, from 1575 - 1625, when the
burgh was second only
St. Andrews in Fife for volume and value of trade.
James Sinclair - elder brother of Patrick Sinclair
whose new-biggit house of 1585 became the Bay Horse Inn - is
recorded in 1583 as the owner of the white and slated house "bewest
ye kirkyarde of desert". This phrase may imply something
more ominous than a mere geographical location. It has been observed
that during mediaeval times there was a great reluctance to build a
structure to the immediate west of a holy place.
The house remained in the Sinclair or St. Clair-Erskine
families until 1896, when the then Earl of Rosslyn was declared
bankrupt and parts of his estates were sold to Sir Michael Nairn.