October 13, 2009

Alex Batchelor, Shell decorated house

picture courtesy of frontpage 251 (Flickr, July 2008)

A house dating from 1692 located in the Scottish fishing village Anstruther, has become known for its 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 in the 1840s was active in this project.

Apart from the exterior walls, Batchelor also has 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 had made 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 designated as the Buckie House, as in Scotland shells will 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 the house has been renovated and two commemorative coins were inserted into it's wall, one coin celebrating the 1880 restoration of monarchy and the other Florence Nightingale.

* Website Sketchfab with a model of Buckie House (composed early 2017 from photos made in September 2016)

* A short video by Tour Scotland (YouTube, 2012, 0.40)

first published October 2009, last revised October 2018

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!

  3. Thanks from me too; I've wondered about this house for years!

  4. Thanks for taking the trouble to explain. Little to found about it.
    Graham Riddell Photography.