The estate of Cambo was first occupied by John De Cambo who, it is thought, received it as a Norman land grant from the King in the 12th or 13th century. It was acquired by the Lindsays at some point and then sold to Thomas Merton in 1620.
The first Erskine to buy the estate was a Sir Charles Arskine who was then Lord Lyon King at Arms and purchased it from the creditors of Patrick Merton. The family have lived here almost continuously since then. In 1759 it was sold to the Charteris family as a student pad for their son who was studying at St Andrews University.
The 9th Earl of Kellie, Thomas Erskine, who was a cousin of the previous owners, bought the estate back from Mr Charteris when he returned from a successful business career in Sweden.
The Earl invested heavily in the estate and it is suspected that he is responsible for many of the handsome Georgian farmhouses with fanlights over their doors, the pantiled cattle buildings, the construction of the dykes and “condies” (streams buried in stone built channels) and Cambo Farm mill pond. One of these condies you will see elegantly displayed running just beside the 18th green of Kingsbarns Golf Links and then on down to the sea.
The 9th Earl was married but had no heirs through his wife. However prior to his marriage he had a daughter, Anna Eglehart. He and his wife adopted all his daughter’s children and the eldest one of them became the first baronet of Cambo in 1821 as he was unable to get the knighthood transferred being illegitimate. Both the second and first baronets of Cambo where captains of the R. & A. and were clearly keen golfers. Kingsbarns Golf Links clubhouse has copies of their portraits hanging in its lobby.
The original house at Cambo was destroyed by a fire in 1878 after a particularly raucous staff party when the family was away.
From around 1918 to 1945 the estate was run by the remarkable Sir Thomas. So brave he’d “fight his own shadow” and so fearsome employees and children would stay well away. He would patrol the estate on horseback and break poachers guns before them. A prolific woodworker, Sir Thomas would single handedly fell and process mature trees from around the estate for his prolific production of carts, furniture and boats.
Struan’s Grandfather, David, succeeded after WW2 and came back from the Far East to run the estate which he did very successfully until handing it over to Peter in 1976.
Sir David and Lady Erskine started letting parts of the house in the late 1940s and during the 50s and 60s had many tenants often associated with the university. Increasingly apartments were let to students from September to June with holidaymakers in July and August.
This is how it was when Sir Peter and Lady Catherine Erskine inherited the estate in 1976. By the mid 1990s letting to students had ceased and serious investment in upgrading the apartments took place before the Cambo of today was born. Peter and Catherine have worked tirelessly to make Cambo house not just a successful accommodation business but to turn the estate into a community hub, hosting a wide range of cultural and educational activities for all ages, throughout the year.
Peter and Catherine’s eldest son Struan and his wife Frances were married in 2012 and moved back to the estate to take the reins at the end of 2014. They are looking forward to the challenges and responsibility of continuing to manage the family estate in a sustainable and socially conscious way.