The first John Berry bought the land of Inverdovat in 1788 and built his house, so forming the estate of Tayfield. John Berry died in 1817, and the task of further developing the estate would be continued by his son William. He added the farm of Causewayhead to the estate, and possibly also at that time the farms of Waterstone Crook, Strawberrybank and Craighead.
Since these early days the extent of the estate has altered. Fairly large areas of land have been feued or gifted to the village, and the land has been used in the main for housing, new roads or for recreational purposes.
Throughout the nineteenth century, plots of land in both East and West Newport were feued, not just for house-building but for other purposes also, such as the building of churches and the Blyth Hall. In the twentieth century too, land has been used for house-building, in many cases being sold to the town council for local authority housing. The largest area of land was lost in the 1960s when fifty acres were acquired by the road bridge authorities for the road bridge approach roads.
Other areas have been gifted to the burgh, mainly for leisure use. According to the burgh minutes, it was as early as 1897, for the grand amount of £1 per annum, that the town council accepted management and control of the Braes, but with ownership being retained by Tayfield Estate. Gowrie Woods were also soon leased from Tayfield, and in 1946 the woods were given to the council by Dr. John Berry (1907-2002), for recreational purposes. A condition of the gift was that there should be no building on the land.
At the present time however the size of the estate is still considerable. Apart from Tayfield House itself and the grounds around it, the estate covers Northfield, Inverdovat, Causewayhead and Easter Friarton farms, and Seamills Cottage. Victoria and Kinbrae Parks, also still parts of the estate, are leased to Fife Council.
The extent of the estate in 2011 can be seen on the map.
Tayfield House was built in 1790, with extensive additions in 1830. The roof was altered, a new section was built on the west side and a completely new south front was added. These alterations almost doubled the accommodation in the house.
Until World War II a large staff would help to run the house. In 1911 for example there were eight live-in servants, plus outdoor workers such as groundsmen, gardeners, foresters and grooms who lived elsewhere on the estate, and daily staff from the village also. Very often there was a French or German speaking Swiss governess, or table-maid who only spoke her own language while at work: this would encourage the family’s language skills.
After World War II it became more difficult to maintain the house, and Dr and Mrs John Berry lived in a flat on the second floor. At this time between 1963 and 1988 rooms on the ground and first floors were used as accommodation for a nursery school for the children of the village.
When Dr and Mrs John Berry moved to the Garden House in 1989, William and Elizabeth Berry undertook a major restoration of the house before moving into it themselves in 1991 – exactly 200 years after the first John Berry moved into the new house he had built.
In the 2010s a new house was built in the grounds of Tayfield, into which William and Elizabeth moved in 2018. Tayfield House is now occupied by their son John and family.
The Berry family has now lived at Tayfield for well over 200 years. The names John and William are given to the eldest sons in the family in alternate generations, and at Tayfield now we have the sixth, seventh and eighth generations of the family since the first John Berry in 1788.
Thanks to the Berry family for many of the images on this page and in our archive too, and also for providing much information.