The History of Rufflets

August 10, 2018

Have you visited Rufflets and ever wondered what the initials ABG carved on the keystone above the door to the South gardens represented?

Did you know that our hotel has played host to some of the most famous legends in golf?

Do you know that our longest-serving member of staff has been working at Rufflets for 28 years?

Rufflets has a long history dating back more than half a century. We are recognised as one of the oldest-established St Andrews hotels and also one of the first country house hotels in Scotland. The original house was built in 1924 as a private home for Mrs Anne Brydon Gilroy, the widow of a prominent Dundee jute baron, and was designed by a well-known Dundee architect, Donald Mills.

It’s Mrs Gilroy’s initials, ABG 1924, that are engraved on the key-stone above the door leading to the formal south garden. Until 1924 the ten acres of Rufflets grounds had been used as agricultural land. Local records going back as far as 1642 indicate that the land was owned by the Priory of St Andrews as part of the Priory Acres and it was known as the “Ruch (pronounced”ruff”) Flets”, which in the old Scots tongue, meant “rough, flat lands.” So, although Rufflets has only been a privately owned hotel for six decades, the name goes back for well over 350 years!

The Gilroy’s have an interesting history as well. Mr Gilroy had been in the jute industry in Dundee in the early part of the 20th Century. His business flourished and he became very successful. The original family home was across the water in Broughty Ferry. Sadly, two of their sons and a son-in-law were killed in the Great War, and Mr Gilroy, understandably devastated, died of what was described by the family as a broken heart in 1921. It was then that his wife decided to sell the family home, and build a new one outside St Andrews. The Gilroys commissioned an oak rood screen in memory of the boys which can still be seen in St James’s Church in Cupar, 8 miles to the west of Rufflets.

The turreted mansion house has been privately owned and managed by three generations of the same family since 1952 when the seven bedroom house was bought by George and Margaret Cook and business partners, Anna and James Meldrum, who converted the house into an hotel. The two women were sisters and the men, lifelong friends. Both couples sold their respective businesses and homes to raise the capital for the purchase. The joint venture was seen as quite a risk, as in those days country house hotels were almost unheard of and Rufflets Hotel was regarded as somewhat unique, not just in Fife, but in the whole of Scotland. Fortunately, the risk paid off and the business grew and flourished – a tribute to the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of the founders.

Several golfing legends have chosen Rufflets as their home during events in and close to St Andrews, returning year after year and enjoying success in majors. You can find lots of photographs and memorabilia around the hotel.

Today the hotel is owned by Mark and Christopher Forrester, grandsons of two of the original founders of Rufflets. Their mother, Ann Murray-Smith, who took over the management of the business from her parents in 1976, remains a Director and acts as an adviser to the business.

why book direct?

We always offer our lowest prices on our own website. If you find a lower qualifying rate within 24 hours of making your reservation, we will match the lower rate, and add an extra 5% discount.

If you need to cancel your reservation, as long as it’s at least 24 hours prior to your planned arrival date, we won’t charge you. Just e-mail (does not apply to advance purchase rates)

When you book directly with us, we will upgrade your booking to the next room category, subject to availability at check-in


Lunch and bar served from 12pm daily

Afternoon Tea served between 2pm and 4.30pm daily 

(minimum 24 hour advance booking required)

Dinner served between 6pm and 9pm daily