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    Scottish Castles Series: Falkland Palace – Part 1

    We visited Falkland Palace, a mix of ruined buildings and sumptuously restored apartments, in 2003 and 2006. This magnificent palace is situated in the picturesque village of Falkland, about 4 miles north of Glenrothes, in Fife, north of the A 912.  Not far away, East Lomond Hill  (448m /1470ft) invites the visitor to climb it up to have a panoramic view of the whole area.

    Falkland Palace view of the village from a window © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace view of the village from a window © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace is rich in history. It was a favourite residence of the Stuart monarchs and the silent witness of their fateful destiny. It is here that on a cold winter day James V died, only six days after the birh of his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, at Linlithgow Palace.

    Falkland Palace & Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace & Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Whatever their fate and the amount of time they could spend in their country residence, the Stuart monarchs come here to relax, to indulge in their favourite sporting activities, playing tennis, practicing archery, riding out in the hills, glades and forest to hunt stags and wild boars with the help of their falcons and dogs. At night they gave banquets, inviting minstrels and poets, playing music, chess, cards, dice, draughts… it was a good way to compensate for the vicissitudes of power though even here, away from Edinburgh, life didn’t always flow like a long fleuve tranquille

    Falkland Palace & Fife on the map NTS brochure

    Falkland Palace & Fife on the map NTS brochure

    As you can see on the above map Falkland Palace which is situated in the heart of the peninsula of Fife is not the only interesting place to visit in the area 😉

    The Scottish monarchs never stayed very long in the same place, used as they were to travel with all their people and luggage from castle to castle: Fakland, Linlithgow, Stirling, Edinburgh… putting all their belongings in big wooden chests like the beautiful ones we can see in Falkland Palace rooms. Even the beautiful and priceless tapestries followed the convoy…

    Falkland Palace © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace © 2003 Scotiana

    The “Gatehouse”, the impressive double-towered entrance through which we enter Falkland Palace, was completed in 1542. Its façade is ornated with painted heraldic panels showing the arms of Scotland, Fife and Stuart of Bute.

    Falkland Palace The Gatehouse Wikimedia

    Falkland Palace The Gatehouse Wikimedia

    Falkland Palace coats-of-arms Scotland Stuarts of Bute Fife © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace coats-of-arms Scotland Stuarts of Bute Fife © 2003 Scotiana

    A few historical landmarks

    I find leap-frogging centuries or reducing them to mere paragraphs quite frustrating but I’ll do my best to tell you a bit of Falkland Palace history. I know castles always keep a number of secrets to themselves but is not this aura of mystery part of their charm?

    I’ve just read in Wikipedia that “falcon land” was not a plausible etymology for “Falkland”. It would have been, however, an appropriate name to designate a place which has been so much associated with hunting. I’ve also learned that the name of “Falkland” only applied to the castle in the olden times and that the name of the village was Kilgour, which means “church/cell of Gabràn”

    At the beginning there was no palace, nor even a castle in the area of Falkland, probably a fortified site, maybe a Pictish fort. Then a hunting lodge was built, followed by a castle and then by a palace.

    The first castle built in Falkland belonged to the powerful clan MacDuff whose chief held the much coveted title of “Earl of Fife”*.

    Suspecting a plot against him, King James I ousted the MacDuff clan from power, executed their chief and confiscated Falkland castle.

    Falkland Palace Fife coat-of-arms Scotland © 2003 Scotiana

    Fife coat-of-arms Falkland Palace Scotland © 2003 Scotiana

    *The Earl of Fife or Mormaer of Fife was the ruler of the province of Fife in medieval Scotland, which encompassed the modern counties of Fife and Kinross. Due to their royal ancestry, the Earls of Fife were the highest ranking nobles in the realm, and had the right to crown the King of Scots.

    Held by the MacDuff family until it passed by resignation to the Stewarts, the earldom ended on the forfeiture and execution of Duke Murdoch in 1425. The earldom was revived in 1759 with the style of Earl Fife for William Duff, a descendant of the MacDuffs. His great-great-grandson, the 6th Earl Fife, was made Earl of Fife in 1885 and Duke of Fife in 1889. (Wikipedia)

    James IV and V of Scotland

    James IV and V of Scotland

    James II adopted the medieval castle as a royal residence but it was James IV and James V who enlarged and embellished it, making of Falkland castle one of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces of Scotland. Mary Stuart enjoyed the place very much as well as his son, James VI (and I of England) though after his accession to the English throne, in 1603, he spent more time in England than in Scotland. Sadly, he had been separated from his mother from an early age. Anyway, none of them seems to have been ready to embark on an architectural project at Falkland.  Charles I came to Falkland Palace in 1633 and Charles II was the last Stuart King to visit it.

    In 1654, the magnificent East Range of the Palace was burnt down accidentally by Cromwell’s troops who were garrisoned there, which explains why it is ruined today.

    Over the generations and under the care of a succession of more or less efficient keepers, the beautiful palace lost its appeal and, with time, fell into disrepair.

    John Crichton Stuart 3rd Marquess of Bute

    John Crichton Stuart 3rd Marquess of Bute

    Then, fortunately enough, a providential man  arrived on the scene. This  man was John Patrick Crichton Stewart, the 3rd Marquess of Bute. He had inspiration, passion and considerable financial means. He was one of the greatest Victorian patrons of the Arts. In 1887, he bought the office of keeper and immediately engaged in the huge task of restoring the Palace to give it a bit of its past splendour. Unfortunately, his death at the age of 53 put an end to many of his architectural dreams, including a number of his projects for Falkland. The office of Keeper at Falkland being hereditary, it was transmitted to his successors. In 1952, the Hereditary Keeper Major Michael Crichton Stewart decided to appoint the National Trust for Scotland to take care of the Palace. The National Trust thus became Deputy Keeper of the Palace, and they now care for and maintain the Palace and its extensive gardens. We’ve met a number of NTS volunteers while visiting some of the estates owned by the Trust and we’ve always been very impressed. They really do wonderful things there!

    Falkland Palace The Stuart of Bute coat-of-arms © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace The Stuart of Bute coat-of-arms © 2003 Scotiana

    Here’s the beautiful Stuart of Bute blason, supported by two angels and described in heraldry as :  “Or a fess checky Azure and Argent within a double tressure flory counterflory Gules”

    In 1887 John, 3rd Marquis of Bute purchased the estates of Falkland and started a 20-year restoration of the palace using his two right-hand architects: John Kinross and Robert Weir Schultz. At the time the Palace was a ruin with no windows or doors. Thanks to his sympathetic restoration work and considerable budget the Palace is still standing to this day. Many features in and around the Palace show evidence of his work, such as the “B” on the guttering and portraits of his children carved into a cupboard door in the Keeper’s Dressing Room.

     

     NTS plan of  Falkland Palace slightly modified by Scotiana

    NTS plan of Falkland Palace slightly modified by Scotiana

    The above plan of Falkland Palace, found in the NTS brochure and to which we’ve added a few details, is very useful to understand the layout of the place.

     

    Falkland Palace Courtyard information panel © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace Courtyard information panel © 2003 Scotiana

    The Palace was meant to be built around a quadrangle but the North Range which contained the Great Hall disappeared completely. At the beginning of the 16th century, three wings and a wall enclosed the courtyard. James IV had planned to enlarge and restore the Great Hall and, in 1512, he had even bought materials for the purpose but he did not have time to achieve his goal for he was killed at Flodden in 1513. His son, James V was only one year old then. It would take a few years before he got involved in any architectural project but then he did a lot of works at Falkland, extending his father’s buildings in French renaissance style and building the Royal Tennis Court in the grounds of the Palace. The double-towered Gatehouse was the last of James V’s projects to be completed and the West Range was never built because of the king’s untimely death, in 1542, at the age of 30.

    Falkland Palace from the garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace from the garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Here’s a view of the South Range as we can see it from the courtyard and part of the ruined East Range (on the left).

    Falkland Palace South Range © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace South Range © 2003 Scotiana

    The courtyard façade of the South Range is built of ashlar and is much less austere, with its Renaissance-style mullioned windows, with its sculpted medallions and dormer windows interspersed by big chimneys, than the street façade. I wonder why we did not not take any picture côté rue

    It was a sunny autumn afternoon when we took these pictures and we enjoyed very much this scene with the old castle in the background and  the yellow and red roses still in bloom.

     

    Falkland Palace South Range Outer Front  Wikimedia

    Falkland Palace South Range Outer Front Wikimedia

    On this picture we can see the outer front of the South Range. The large windows on the first floor are those of the chapel. The style of the street façade is described as “Late Gothic Ecclesiastical”, a style which is normally reserved to churches. The buttresses of the façade are decorated with carved pinnacles and decorative niches, two of which still contain statues. The whole of the decoration underlines the religious nature of this part of the building.

    The façade is more massive than its courtyard counterpart. The different parts of the outer front, the gatehouse, the chapel, the rectangular turret, are united by a parapet decorated with mouldings and gargoyles. One can notice that the turret on the right of the picture is built from rough rubble stone contrary to the rest of the façade which is an indication that it dates from James IV.

     

    Falkland Palace Courtyard South Range and Gatehouse Wikimedia

    Falkland Palace Courtyard South Range and Gatehouse Wikimedia

    Note here again the difference between the South Range façade and the Gatehouse walls: ashlar/rubble…

    Falkland Palace Courtyard East Range  © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace Courtyard East Range © 2003 Scotiana

    The only remains of the East Range are the ruined façade with its the dovecot on the left  and the cellars. The magnificently restored Cross House is hardly visible behind the wall, about midway of the façade.

    Falkland Palace North Range foundations rose garden Wikimedia

    Falkland Palace North Range foundations rose garden Wikimedia

    Again, a picture of the East Range of Falkland Palace but there is more than that for, hidden under the rose garden are the foundations of the North Range which sheltered the Great Hall. The foundations were excavated by the 3rd Marquess of Bute…

    Falkland Palace Scotiana montage chapel ceiling window © 2006 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace Scotiana montage chapel ceiling window © 2006 Scotiana

    The Palace is full of priceless treasures but I will tell you more about them in the second part of this post.

    Famous people have visited the place and written very interesting pages about it.

    Walter Scott Portrait

    Walter Scott visited the place on 27 June 1829 and he wrote an interesting page about it in his Journal.

    The Journal of Sir Walter Scott Canongate Classics 1998

    The Journal of Sir Walter Scott Canongate Classics 1998

    “June 27 1829 .–I ought not, where merry men convene, to omit our jovial son of Neptune, Admiral Adam. The morning proving delightful, we set out for the object of the day, which was Falkland. We passed through Lochore, but without stopping, and saw on the road eastward, two or three places, as Balbedie, Strathendry, and some others known to me by name. Also we went through the town of Leslie, and saw what remains of the celebrated rendezvous of rustic gallantry called Christ’s Kirk on the Green.[348] It is now cut up with houses, one of the most hideous of which is a new church, having the very worst and most offensive kind of Venetian windows. This, I am told, has replaced a quiet lowly little Gothic building, coeval, perhaps, with the royal poet who celebrated the spot. Next we went to Falkland, where we found Mr. Howden, factor of Mr. Tyndall Bruce, waiting to show us the palace.

    Falkland has most interesting remains. A double entrance-tower, and a side building running east from it, is roofed, and in some degree habitable; a corresponding building running northward from the eastern corner is totally ruinous, having been destroyed by fire. The architecture is highly ornamented, in the style of the Palace at Stirling. Niches with statues, with projections, cornices, etc, are lavished throughout. Many cornice medallions exhibited such heads as those procured from the King’s room at Stirling, the originals, perhaps, being the same. The repeated cypher of James V. and Mary of Guise attest the builder of this part of the palace. When complete it had been a quadrangle. There is as much of it as remained when Slezer published his drawings. Some part of the interior has been made what is called habitable, that is, a half-dozen of bad rooms have been gotten out of it. Am clear in my own mind a ruin should be protected, but never repaired. The proprietor has a beautiful place called Nut-hill, within ten minutes’ walk of Falkland, and commanding some fine views of it and of the Lomond Hill. This should be the residence. But Mr. Bruce and his predecessor, my old professor, John Bruce,deserve great credit for their attention to prevent dilapidation, which was doing its work fast upon the ancient palace. The only remarkable apartment was a large and well-proportioned gallery with a painted roof–_tempore Jacobi Sexti_–and built after his succession to the throne of England. I noticed a curious thing,–a hollow column concealed the rope which rung the Castle bell, keeping it safe from injury and interruption.

    The town of Falkland is old, with very narrow streets. The arrival of two carriages and a gig was an event important enough to turn out the whole population. They are said to be less industrious, more dissipated, and readier to become soldiers than their neighbours. So long a court retains its influence!

    We dined at Wellfield with my Mend George Cheape, with whom I rode in the cavalry some thirty years ago. Much mirth and good wine made us return in capital tune. The Chief Baron and Admiral Adam did not go on this trip. When we returned it was time to go to bed by a candle.”

    Falkland Palace & Royal Burgh The National Trust for Scotland

    Falkland Palace & Royal Burgh The National Trust for Scotland

    Much of my information about Falkland Palace comes from the very interesting brochure edited by the NTS. It is illustrated with beautiful pictures, reproductions of old engravings and very useful maps. Indeed, each time we visit a place in care of Historic and Environment Scotland or the NTS we buy their little guide. I have a whole collection of them in my library and I open them quite often.

    Scottish Royal Palaces John G Dunbar Tuckwell Historic Scotland 1999

    Scottish Royal Palaces John G Dunbar Tuckwell Historic Scotland 1999

    Here’s another very interesting book written by G. Dunbar, an expert in Scottish architecture who was Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland from 1978 to 1990. This book focuses on the Scottish Royal Palaces: Linlithgow, Falkland, Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Doune Castle, Dunfermline Palace.

    “This is the first exclusive survey of an outstanding group of buildings. The survival of Scotland’s astonishing wealth of palaces of late medieval and early Renaissance date is due largely to the departure of king and court from Edinburgh to London in 1603 : the royal residences became largely redundant thereafter and, with the notable exception of Holyroodhouse, were never replaced or renewed.”( From the back cover of Scottish Royal Palaces – John G. Dunbar – Tuckwell Press – Historic Scotland 1999)

    On my reading list, a biography of the 3rd Marquess of Bute who played such an important part in the restoration of Falkland Palace. We first heard about it when we visited Mountstuart on the Isle of Bute. We visited it twice and could revisit it again and again. We were not only  impressed by the beauty and mystery of the place but also very interested by the man behind all that.

    I will tell you more about Rosemary Hannah’s biography when I have read it 😉

    What a man ! I’ve just learned that one of his biggest dreams was to restore Sanquhar Castle, the ancestral home of the Crichtons. Maybe Iain & Margaret could tell us more about that 😉

    The Grand Designer Third Marquess of Bute Rosemary Hannah Birlinn 2013

    The Grand Designer Third Marquess of Bute Rosemary Hannah Birlinn 2013

    When the third Marquess of Bute (1847 – 1900) met the renowned Gothic designer William Burges it marked the start of a lifetime’s collaboration with architects and artists, producing work ranging from the High Victorian Gothic exuberance of Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch to the ostentation of Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute and the sumptuous restoration of the Renaissance Falkland Palace. This fascinating biography tells the story of a rich eccentric, whose learning, insight and kindness produced extraordinary results in architecture and life, a man who combined being amongst the richest men of the age with artistic patronage of an almost incomprehensible scale.

    But let us go back to Falkland Palace… did I mention it was a haunted place ? I’ve found  a fascinating video about the question. Make your own judgment and if you are not convinced maybe a little visit of the place by night or on a mournful day of winter could be helpful 😉

    À bientôt for the second part of my post for there is still so much to say about Falkland Palace: the inside of the Palace, the magnificent gardens, the famous old tennis court, the giant outdoor chess game where an incredible challenge has been launched…

    Bonne lecture ! Enjoy the video !

    Mairiuna

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    Scottish Castles Series : Linlithgow Palace

    Linlithgow Palace is located in West Lothian about 15 miles (24 km) west of Edinburgh, off the M9. The name “Linlithgow” comes from the Old British and means “lake in the damp hollow”…

    Linlithgow Castle and St Michael's Church © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Castle and St Michael’s Church © 2007 Scotiana

    Even if you have planned to go directly to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument don’t miss Linlithgow Palace. This magnificent ruin, for the old palace lost its roof long ago, is well-worth the visit as St Michael’s church which stands just nearby with its amazing 58ft high crown made of anodised aluminium. The surrounding park is quite pleasant too. You can walk around the loch, look at the palace from a distance, watch the birds flying over the loch and the colourful little boats sailing on its peaceful waters.

    Linlithgow loch © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow loch © 2003 Scotiana

    We visited Linlithgow Palace in September 2003 and returned there in July 2007 hoping to be able  to see James V’s fountain, a wonderful architectural gem standing in the middle of the courtyard. James V had offered it as a wedding gift to Mary of Guise in 1538. The fountain was undergoing restoration works when we first visited the place.

     

    Linlithgow Palace the fountain in the courtyard © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace the fountain in the courtyard © 2007 Scotiana

    This magnificent sandstone fountain, a 3-tiered structure decorated with emblematic carvings, is the oldest surviving of its kind in Britain. It is said that at times of great festivities, such as the King’s wedding or Bonnie Prince Charlie’s visit in 1745,  it did not flow with water but with wine 😉 It could have flowed with blood when the castle was occupied by the troops of the Duke of Cumberland in 1746, a man of sinister reputation nicknamed “The Butcher”…

     

    Linlithgow Palace the fountain in the courtyard © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace the fountain in the courtyard © 2007 Scotiana

    But let us retrace our steps in order to begin at the beginning 😉

    St Michael's Church & Palace Outer Gate Kirkgate Street © 2003 Scotiana

    St Michael’s Church & Palace Outer Gate Kirkgate Street © 2003 Scotiana

    After following Kirkgate Street…

    Linlithgow Kirgate Street Scottish Kings & Queens  plaque © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Kirgate Street Scottish Kings & Queens plaque © 2007 Scotiana

    … desperately trying to memorize the list of Scottish Kings & Queens as their names appear on the wall…

    Linlithgow Kirgate Street Mary Queen of Scots plaque © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Kirgate Street Mary Queen of Scots plaque © 2003 Scotiana

    … we arrive at a magnificent entrance, decorated with colourful emblems…

     

    The Entrance

    Linlithgow Palace Outer Gate © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace Outer Gate © 2003 Scotiana

    This is the outer gate built about 1535 for James V. This entrance replaced the old one built by James I and which was situated on the East range of the Palace.

     

    Linlithgow Palace Outer Gate the King's Four Orders of Knighthood © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace Outer Gate the King’s Four Orders of Knighthood © 2003 Scotiana

    The four repainted emblems one can see above the archway of the Outer Gate and represent the King’s four Orders of Knighthood: the Garter, The Thistle, St Michael, the Golden Fleece.

    James V was elected Companion of the Order of the Garter by Henry VIII on 20th January 1535. He received the Order of St. Michael from Francis I, King of France in 1535 and the Order of the Golden Fleece from Emperor Charles V in 1534.

     

    Linlithgow Palace South Range © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace South Range © 2003 Scotiana

    Once we have passed the Outer Gate and St Michael’s Church, we follow the cobbled street which leads to the impressive south range of the palace and to the main entrance.

     

    Linlithgow Palace Historic Scotland panel

    The high arched windows are those of the Chapel.

     

    Linlithgow Palace East Range Historic Scotland panel illustration

    Linlithgow Palace East Range Historic Scotland panel illustration

    The above illustration shows the East range of the Palace built by King James I. It contained the original entrance. The barbican was added by James IV but there is not much left of the four towers today.

    We are now ready to enter the Palace…

     

    Linlithgow Palace East-South Range south east tower © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace East-South Range south east tower © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace was designed as a quadrangle with a central courtyard and square towers in each corner. The videos at the end of my post show aerial views of the palace, which is quite useful to understand its plan.

    Linlithgow Palace East range gateway © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace East range gateway © 2003 Scotiana

    Given of what is left of the beautifully decorated east entrance, it must have been magnificent at the time of James I when it was built.

     

    Linlithgow Palace West Range & Fountain © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace West Range & Fountain © 2007 Scotiana

    When it is not crowded it is very pleasant to sit in the courtyard, enjoying the place and letting one’s imagination wander up and down the old walls steeped in history.

    The main historical landmarks of the place

    The story of a royal residence in Linlithgow goes back to the night of time, dating back to the 1100s and even before though at the beginning it was neither a “castle” nor a “palace” but only a “manor house” used by the early Scottish kings. David I (1124-1153), who founded the burgh of Linlithgow, is often quoted as one of the first Scottish kings to have been associated with the place.

    David I’s immediate successors seem to have been occasional residents of the royal house but didn’t leave many traces. As Rev. John Ferguson writes at the end of the first chapter of Linlithgow Palace “such are the mists which conceal the house from our view, that it is difficult to say whether it was built of wood or stone – was a castle or only a hunting-lodge”.

    In 1301, at a time of political turmoil in Scotland when there was big competition for the Scottish Crown, Edward I of England, who had invaded Scotland in support of John Balliol’s claim to the throne, decided to use Linlithgow House, a strategical place between Edinburgh and Stirling, as a military base, building a fortification known as “The Peel”.  The English stayed there 13 years. Nothing remains of what was probably a wooden and earth structure for, in 1313, Robert the Bruce (1306-1329) destroyed Edward’s “castle”, using a “Trojan Horse” strategy. After this short episode as a defensive “castle”, Linlithgow manor house was rebuilt by King David II (1329-1371).

    In 1424 a big fire destroyed the town, the manor house and part of the church. James I (1407-1437), returning to Scotland after 18 years of captivity in England, decided to build a new royal residence on the site of the old one and also to rebuild St Michael’s Church which had served as a storeroom during Edward’s military occupation. King James I built the East Range containing the main entrance and also began the construction of the North and South ranges. The magnificent Great Hall dates back to his time though it has been modified since.

    The Palace was used by the successive Stuart kings, each adding his own touch to the edifice. So it evolved over the centuries from a mere manor house to a magnificent palace which became a favourite residence of the Stuarts.

    Linlithgow Palace West Range Historic Scotland panel illustration

    Linlithgow Palace West Range Historic Scotland panel illustration

    James III (1460-1488) and James IV (1488-1513) were particularly fond of the palace to which they added major contributions. James IV is the one who built the west range and added the barbican outside. He also rebuilt earlier parts of the building, including the Great Hall. He would be killed in 1513 at the age of 40 at the battle of Flodden. It is said that his wife, Margaret Tudor, had been watching for his return from a place known today as ‘Queen Margaret’s Bower’ which is situated at the top of the north-west tower. Another story tells that the King had ignored the warning, delivered to him by a blue-robed ghost in St Michael’s, that predicted he would be killed if he went to battle against the English.

    Linlithgow Palace Margaret's Bower © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace Margaret’s Bower © 2003 Scotiana

    James V was born at Linlithgow Palace on 10 April 1512. He  completed the structure closing the old entrance and replacing it by the gatehouse we use today to enter the place and which is situated in the south range of the Palace.

    Mary Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow Palace on 8 December 1542 and she was only six days old when her father James V died at Falkland Palace, in Fife, not far from Linlithgow. The baby queen remained there no more than seven months. An agreement had been reached for her marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales in  July 1543, but her mother, Mary of Guise, fearing that her daughter might be abducted moved her to Stirling Castle. Mary was preoccupied with other concerns than building castles. When her son succeeded her to the Scottish throne (at the age of one) Linlithgow was in a state of disrepair so that on 6 September 1607 the north range collapsed.

    Linlithgow Palace North Range Historic Scotland panel illustration

    Linlithgow Palace North Range Historic Scotland panel illustration

    Linlithgow Palace North Range © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace North Range © 2003 Scotiana

     

    Once ‘The Union of the Crowns’ had been signed between England and Scotland, in 1603, things were never the same. James VI/I moved to London leaving the palace in charge of a keeper which did not improved things. The palace continued to deteriorate. After the north range collapsed, James VI rebuilt it in the years 1618-20 but it never recovered its former grandeur.

    The Palace was last used by a monarch in 1633 when Charles I stayed there.

    Cromwell’s troops stayed there in 1650 and Bonnie Prince Charlie paid a short visit in 1745.

    When the English troops which had occupied the palace in 1746 departed they left the  palace ablaze which destroyed the roof and not only the roof. It was never repaired since.

    The Palace is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. (HES)

    THE INTERIOR OF LINLITHGOW PALACE

    There are many rooms inside the palace and many of them can be visited.

    Linlithgow Palace The Chapel © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace The Chapel © 2003 Scotiana

    We begin with the Chapel situated in the South range. Not many people are praying there but maybe are we surrounded by invisible presences… who knows 😉

     

    Linlithgow Palace The Great Hall HS interpretive panel © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace The Great Hall HS interpretive panel © 2003 Scotiana

    The Great Hall which dates back to James I, though it was modified later, is still quite impressive but one need to travel back in time in order to fill it with people and things for the vast room is rather dark and empty today. Once again the HES panels are very useful, not to say indispensable, to best appreciate such a place.

    Linlithgow Palace The Great Hall © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace The Great Hall © 2003 Scotiana

    It is an immense room with its 100 feet (30 m) long and 30 feet (9 m) wide and massive fireplace. Imagine the cheerful atmosphere of the place when big festivities were organized there, when the ceiling was still covered by a beamed roof such as the one you can find at Edinburgh or Stirling castles, when the walls were lined with luxurious tapestries and the hall filled with fine furniture. Can you hear the music ? There is a minstrel gallery running the whole length of the hall. Indeed, there was music in the Great Hall when we entered it in 2007 for a charming and very talented young piper was playing in front of the fireplace…

    Linlithgow Palace Great Hall young piper fireplace © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace Great Hall young piper fireplace © 2007 Scotiana

    We sat on a stone bench and listen to him with much pleasure… his very moving music filled the room..

    Linlithgow Palace young piper in the Great Hall © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace young piper in the Great Hall © 2007 Scotiana

    Many thanks to this young Scottish artist. It’s very hard to play the pipe…

    Linlithgow Palace Court Kitchen © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace Court Kitchen © 2007 Scotiana

    Here is the Court Kitchen with again a massive fireplace…

    Linlithgow Palace the Court Kitchen HES panel © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace the Court Kitchen HES panel © 2007 Scotiana

    The Royal Apartments… the King’s one on the first floor and the Queen’s above…

    Linlithgow Palace West range the Royal Apartments with its tiled floor © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace West range the Royal Apartments with its tiled floor © 2007 Scotiana

    Note the beautiful tiled floor in the King’s bedchamber…

    Linlitgow Palace Royal apartments Queen's room © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlitgow Palace Royal apartments Queen’s room © 2003 Scotiana

    Here’s the level of the Queen’s apartment and “Margaret’s Bower”up the turret…

    Linlithgow Palace - Searching one's way in the corridors © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace – Searching one’s way in the corridors © 2007 Scotiana

    Wandering about the empty corridors… alone, or not…;-)

    Linlithgow Palace one of the many corridors © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace one of the many corridors © 2007 Scotiana

    There are many corridors, it can be difficult to find one’s way…

    Linlithgow Palace turnpike stair © 2003 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace turnpike stair © 2003 Scotiana

    What can be there, up this turnpike stair… let’s climb it…

    Linlithgow Palace view from the roof © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace view from the roof © 2007 Scotiana

    Wow ! We can get a beautiful panoramic view of the area from the roof…

    Linlithgow Palace from the roof © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace from the roof © 2007 Scotiana

    … but it’s not for those who are afraid of height, like me 😉

    INSPIRATION

    Such a place cannot be but inspiring and it did inspire generations of poets and artists, and contemporary people too.

     

    Linlithgow proof engraving by William Miller after Turner

    Linlithgow proof engraving by William Miller after Turner

    “Of all the palaces so fair
    Built for the royal dwelling
    In Scotland, far beyond compare,
    Linlithgow is excelling”

    (Walter Scott – Marmion)

     The romantic atmosphere of Linlithgow Palace is particularly well reflected in old engravings …

     

    Illustration from The Castles, Palaces, and Prisons of Mary of Scotland by Charles Mackie esq.

    Illustration from The Castles, Palaces, and Prisons of Mary of Scotland by Charles Mackie esq.

    (Illustration from The Castles, Palaces, and Prisons of Mary of Scotland by Charles Mackie esq.)

    The spectacle of an ancient palace, which at one time enshrined the royal honours of Scotland, where Princes feasted and heroes fought, resounding alternately with the clang of arms and the dulcet notes of peace, now surrendered to ruin and desolation, cannot fail to inspire feelings of melancholy and regret in the bosom of the lover of departed glories of his country.

    The palace of Linlithgow is venerable for its antiquity, and must be forever hallowed by the mournful associations connected with its time-honoured ruins. No more do those princely halls contain the beauty and chivalry of Scotland, nor those battlements the formidable array of warlike hosts. The owl nightly hoots its dirge from the broken towers, and the note of the wild bird, exchanged for the music of the harp, screams its harsh requiem over departed greatness.

    (Charles Mackie – The Castles, Palaces, and Prisons of Mary of Scotland -1850)

    Linlithgow Palace attracts many people of all age today, all the more when historical events are organized by Historic Environment Scotland.  Donald Cameron seems to be a fan of the place 😉

    “In my heart of hearts I’ve always longed to step into a time machine, dial up an epoch, an era, and whisk myself back to a moment beyond memory, to a place where I might have a privileged front row seat as history unfolds.”

    (Donald Cameron in the article “The King & I” published in Scots – The Journal of the Scots Heritage Society – Number 45 -August 2009)

    Linlithgow Palace - An article by Donald Cameron in The Scots Heritage Magazine 45

    Linlithgow Palace – An article by Donald Cameron in The Scots Heritage Magazine 45

    This event organized at Linlithgow Palace by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and described by Donald Cameron  was meant to illustrate a momentous historical event which took place there in 1503: the wedding of King James IV and Margaret Tudor, the 14-year-old daughter of England’s King Henry VII.

    James IV was very fond of Linlithgow Palace, as his son James V would be after him. Unfortunately James IV was killed at the battle of Flodden in 1513 and it is said that his wife, Margaret Tudor, had been watching for his return from the  tower which is now known as ‘Queen Margaret’s Bower”.

    The Castles of Scotland Martin Coventry 5th edition Goblinshead Prestongrange House 2015

    The Castles of Scotland Martin Coventry 5th edition Goblinshead Prestongrange House 2015

    My favourite book of reference about Scottish castles is Martin Coventry’s The Castles of Scotland.  The last edition is a big book, not the kind  to put in your luggage when you go to Scotland 😉 But you can take his Wee Guide to The Haunted Castles of Scotland published by Goblinshead.

    “Martin was born in 1963 in Edinburgh, and from an early age had a passion for castles, battles and dragons, not least being greatly influenced by The Lord of the Rings and then by Robert E Howard’s stories about Conan.

    Sadly growing up in the grey streets of the capital offered few opportunities for an aspiring adventurer, except Dungeons and Dragons (…)

    At Slains Castle, one cold but beautiful day, was conceived a work on all the many castles, towers and fortified houses of Scotland in one handy volume, and so came along The Castles of Scotland and the publishing powerhouse that is Goblinshead.”

    https://www.thecastlesofscotland.co.uk/the-author/

    Linlithgow Palace Rev. Ferguson published in 1910 by Oliver & Boyd

    A very interesting old book, specifically dedicated to Linlithgow Palace is Rev. John Ferguson’s Linlithgow Palace – Its History and Traditions. It was published in 1910. Not only did this old book appealed to me with its beautiful cover and illustrations but I also felt that nobody could be better placed to write about Linlithgow Palace than one of the ministers of St Michael Parish Church.

    (Linlithgow Palace Rev. Ferguson published in 1910 by Oliver & Boyd)

    Linlithgow Palace

    Its History and Traditions

    WITH PEEPS FROM ITS WINDOWS AT THE BURGH AND SURROUNDING DISTRICT

    by the

    Rev. John Ferguson, D.D., F.S.A. (Scot.)

    MINISTER OF LINLITHGOW

    Five years ago I published a History of St Michael’s Church, which was favourably received by the Press and the Public. In collecting material for that work, it was scarcely possible to avoid collecting material for a history of the palace ; for the two buildings are not only adjacent, but their histories are interwoven and to a large extent inseparable.

    As you can see on the above picture, the blue cover of Rev. John Ferguson is ornated with a lovely gilded engraving, illustrating one of the two coat of arms of Linlithgow which represents a black bitch chained to an oak tree standing on a mound in Linlithgow Loch. There is an engraving of it inside the book.

    (The Black bitch of Linlithgow – Illustration from Linlithgow Palace by Rev. Ferguson 1910)

    The Black bitch of Linlithgow from Linlithgow Palace by Rev. Ferguson 1910

    The Black bitch of

    Linlithgow coat of arms is based on local tales.

    The tree represents the former Royal Forest and the black bitch may be connected with the chase; it may also recall one of the possible meanings of Linlithgow, “the lake of the grey dog”.

    Linlithgow Palace ceiling dog tree emblem © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace ceiling dog tree emblem © 2007 Scotiana

    Last but not least, if I was lucky to live in Scotland, I would certainly not miss the event organized at Linlithgow Palace by HES in next october 😉

    Linlithgow by night © Historic Environment Scotland

    Linlithgow by night © Historic Environment Scotland

    Frightening Times at Linlithgow Palace

    Visitors are invited to go back in time to the Linlithgow Palace of the 1850s this month with Historic Environment Scotland’s popular Fright Night event. Costumed performers will delve into the depths of the palace’s past to uncover sinister stories, bringing the unique historic site to life for those who are brave of heart.

    With Halloween approaching, Linlithgow Palace is offering visitors the unique opportunity to see the historic site after dark. By day the high towers of the elaborate pleasure palace look out over lush greenery and a loch brimming with wildfowl – but things look a little different after dark.

    The Victorian Era was a time of rapid scientific progress in Britain, and produced a wave of paranormal investigators, mystics and spiritualists interested in uncovering the secrets of things that went bump in the night. This Fright Night, visitors can follow Victorian Professor Michael and his sidekick, Night Watchman Gibby McPherson, as they enter the palace under cover of dark to investigate rumours of ghostly goings-on.

    Hear spooky stories of witches and rat catchers, and meet some of the less pleasant characters from Scotland’s past.

    Laura Gray, Assistant Events Manager for Historic Environment Scotland, which manages the palace, said: “Those looking for a scare this Halloween won’t do much better than Fright Night at Linlithgow Palace! The event gives people a unique opportunity to explore the darker side of Linlithgow Palace. Our costumed performers are great at building a strange and spine-tingling atmosphere, perfect for any brave souls wanting to do something a bit different this Halloween.”

    https://www.historicenvironment.scot/about-us/news/frightening-times-at-linlithgow-palace/

    That’s the end of the visit! I hope you enjoyed it 😉

    À bientôt !

    Mairiuna

    Linlithgow Palace view on the loch from a Palace window © 2007 Scotiana

    Linlithgow Palace view on the loch from a Palace window © 2007 Scotiana

     

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