October 13, 2009

Alex Batchelor, Shell decorated house

 picture courtesy of frontpage 251 (Flickr, july 2008)

Located in the Scottish community of Anstruther, this house, dating from 1692, has a shell decorated facade.  

Life and works

It is a creation made by Alex Batchelor who lived in the Victorian era. He was a slater and a plasterer, who probably has been doing this project in the 1840's.

He has also decorated his bedroom, not just the walls, but also the ceiling, so this room has become kind of a grotto, or so it was called. I do not know if these interior decorations are still extant.

The locals considered  Batchelor as somewhat eccentric, not in the least since he also owned a shell decorated coffin and was willing to let people take a look at it after paying some pennies. There is a story that the show included that for an extra penny he would lay down in the coffin.

Locally the house was called the Buckie House, as in Scotland shells would also be referred to as buckies (from the latin name buccinum undatum?). 

Actual situation

Buckie House currently is private property. 

In the spring of 2010 it has been restored and two commemorative coins were inserted into it's wall, one coin celebrating the 1880 restoration of monarchy and the other Florence Nightingale.

Alex Batchelor
Shell House
2 High Street
Anstruther, Scotland, United Kingdom
can be seen from the street


  1. What a picturesque man he would had been. I laugh my self with the idea of mister Batchelor lying on the coffin and paying some scary jokes to the curious. What a better way to face the shadow of the death but with a little sense of humor.

  2. We just visited Pittenween yesterday {we are here from California}. I was so intrigued by the mosaic shell house that I googled it and found your post. Thank you for the information--absolutely fascinating!