Of Scotland, Falkland Palace
away at the foot of the Lomond Hills, safe from the depredations
of war and strife so endemic to Scottish history, Falkland has
retained the peaceful charm of a royal burgh of yesteryear. A
stroll around Falkland will enable visitors to discover goodvernacular
architecture and something of the court officials, royal servants
and tradesmen who resided in the village.
particular interest are the many lintel and marriage stones. Great
efforts have been made to preserve the original character of the
burgh. Conservation Area status and the National Trust for Scotland's
Little Houses Improvement Scheme have been responsible for large-scale
restoration. On the south side of the High Street, 17th Century
Moncreif House sports a thatch of Tay reeds, a marriage lintel
and inscribed panel proclaiming the builder's loyalty to his monarch.
The hotel next door features further panels, and beyond Back Wynd
stands the steepled town hall (1801) which is adorned with a sculptured
panel of the burgh arms.
the far side of the street next to the Palace is Key House with
its lintel dated 1713 with, as neighbour, the harled and red pantiled
18C St Andrew's House. The Bruce Fountain is 19th Century. Cross
Wynd is lined by a row of single-storey cottages, interrupted
on the left by the cobbled Parliament Square. Glance up Horsemarket
to see the building with forestairs. Dominating Brunton Street
is the imposing three-storeyed Brunton House (1712), which is
the home of the Royal Falconers. Back in the main street, the
birthplace of the "Lion of the Covenant". Richard Cameron
(1648-80). is marked by another inscribed lintel. He was a staunch
Covenanter and, following a period of exile, he headed the extremist
Covenanting group, the Cameronians, the nucleus of which was later
to form the regiment of the same name.
the centre of the royal kingdom
The original castle belonged to the Macduffs. the Earls of Fife,
and its early history was marked by the mysterious death in 1402
of David, Duke of Rothesay, heir to Robert III, while staying
with his uncle, Robert, Duke of Albany. David's brother.
I, on his release from imprisonment in England in 1424, set out
to restore the power of the monarchy. His revenge was total and
in the following year the Albanys were beheaded. Their property,
including Falkland, passed to the Crown. James II gifted the castle
to Mary of Gueldres in 1451 and followed this in 1458 by raising
the town to a royal burgh and the castle to a palace.
residence (15th Century-16th Century)
The hunting seat of Falkland became one of the Stewarts favourite
royal palaces. James II built an extension, the north range which
originally contained the Great Hall, and it was here that Margaret
of Anjou and her son took refuge when Henry VI was imprisoned.
The future James III (1451-88) spent his childhood here but his
troubled reign, marked by conflicts with nobles and brothers alike,
ended with his murder at Sauchieburn.
IV (1473-1513), a typical monarch of the Renaissance, re-established
royal authority, and with his Queen. Margaret Tudor, entertained
a splendid court. Royal patronage was extended to the poet William
Dunbar (1465-1530) who dedicated The Thistle and the Rose to his
royal patrons. James, who loved to hunt in the Falkland Forest
and hawk on the Lomond Hills, built the south range. James V (1512-42)
made extensive alterations in preparation for his marriage, initially
to Magdalene, daughter of Francois I, then after her untimely
death, to Mary of Guise in 1538. French workmen prepared the palace
for a French bride.
result was the Renaissance ornament on the courtyard facade of
the south range. A radical departure from the Gothic of the time,
this stylistic flourish was in fact the earliest of its kind in
Britain. James' two sons died as infants and it was to Mary, Queen
of Scots that the throne went when her father died heartbroken
at the age of 30. Mary came to hunt occasionally, and her son
James VI visited on his 1617 royal progress as did her grandson,
Charles I and great-grandson, Charles II. It was the latter who
presented the Scots Guards with their Colours here in 1650. Abandoned,
the palace fell into a state of disrepair. In the late 19th Century
the Hereditary Keeper carried out restoration work. The palace,
although still royal property, is now under the guardianship of
the National Trust for Scotland.
Range: street front
This range, built by James IV, consists of two very distinct parts:
on the extreme left is the twin-towered gatehouse. which was completed
in its present form in 1541 and provided accommodation for the
Constable. Captain and Keeper. The corbelled parapet, cable moulding
and gargoyles link this with the range to the east where massive
buttresses are adorned with canopied niches. The statues are the
work of Peter the Flemishman (1538). The street front is a good
example of Scottish Gothic.
From the entrance hall of the gatehouse, you can climb to the
Keeper's suite on the 2nd floor. The bedroom is dominated by James
VI's magnificent canopied bed and the room is hung with copies
of full length royal portraits. Adjoining are the dressing room
with the Bute Centenary Exhibition and the small panelled bathroom.
Drawing-Room was restored by the Marquess of Bute in the 1890s.
The oak ceiling is emblazoned with the coats of arms of the Stuart
Kings and the different Keepers of the palace. The paintings include
James VII and Mary. Queen of Scots, Charles II and Catharine of
Braganza. The outstanding features of the 16C interior of the
Chapel Royal are the oak screen between chapel and ante-chapel
and the painted ceiling redecorated for Charles I's 1633 visit.
The Tapestry Gallery is hung with 17C Flemish tapestries and furnished
with replicas of 16C and 17C pieces of furniture. The 19C heraldic
glass shows sovereigns and consorts closely associated with the
Old Library has memorabilia of the 20th Century Keepers, the Crichton
This was built at the same time as the south one, to contain the
royal apartments with the king's suite on the first floor and
queen's above. This level affords a good view of the delightful
courtyard front of the south range, so different from the Gothic
Renaissance influence is most evident in the buttresses embellished
with engaged pilasters and pronounced mouldings and the sets of
paired medallions. The latter are not unlike Wolsey's terracotta
medallions at Hampton Court and the Stirling Heads. The ideas
of this showpiece facade for the earlier Gothic range were developed
in the more elaborate designs of Stirling's Palace Block. The
experiment, however, was confined to royal works and the style
had no permanent effect on Scottish architecture.
King's Bed Chamber in the cross house projecting from this range
(rebuilt 19C) has been restored. The windows have shutter boards
below and leaded glass above and the painted ceiling is resplendent
with the monograms of James V and Mary of Guise. The Golden Bed
of Brahan is of early 17C Dutch workmanship. James V died here
in 1542 several days after learning of the birth of his daughter
Mary. Queen of Scots, when he pronounced "It came wi' a lass,
and will gang wi' a lass."
The foundations of the North Range and Round Tower of the original
Macduff stronghold can be seen in the gardens. Replanted since
its use as a potato field in the Second World War effort, the
gardens, ablaze with colour, include shrubs, herbaceous borders
and a more formal garden. Beyond is the 1539 Royal Tennis Court,
built prior to Henry Vlll's one at Hampton Court.