Holyrood Palace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Palace of Holyroodhouse
Holyroodhouse, front view.jpg
The Palace of Holyroodhouse viewed from the Forecourt
Holyrood Palace is located in Edinburgh
Holyrood Palace
Location in Edinburgh, Scotland
Holyrood Palace is located in the United Kingdom
Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace (the United Kingdom)
General information
TypeOfficial residence
Architectural styleClassical
LocationRoyal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
Coordinates55°57′09″N 3°10′21″W / 55.95250°N 3.17250°W / 55.95250; -3.17250Coordinates: 55°57′09″N 3°10′21″W / 55.95250°N 3.17250°W / 55.95250; -3.17250
Construction started1671 (north-west tower 1528)
Completed1678 (north-west tower 1536)
OwnerKing Charles III in right of the Crown

The Palace of Holyroodhouse (/ˈhɒlɪˌrd/ or /ˈhlɪˌrd/),[1] commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace or Holyroodhouse, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse has served as the principal royal residence in Scotland since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.

The late Queen Elizabeth II spent one week in residence at Holyroodhouse at the beginning of each summer, where she carried out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. The 16th-century historic apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the State Apartments, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the royal family are in residence. The Queen's Gallery was built at the western entrance to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and opened in 2002 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection. The gardens of the palace are set within Holyrood Park.


12th–15th centuries[edit]

The ruins of the Augustinian Holyrood Abbey

The ruined Augustinian Holyrood Abbey that is sited in the grounds was founded in 1128 at the order of King David I of Scotland. The name derives either from a legendary vision of the cross witnessed by David I, or from a relic of the True Cross known as the Holy Rood or Black Rood, and which had belonged to Saint Margaret, David's mother.[2] As a royal foundation, and sited close to Edinburgh Castle, it became an important administrative centre. A Papal legate was received here in 1177, while in 1189 a council of nobles met to discuss a ransom for the captive king, William the Lion.[3] Robert the Bruce held a parliament at the abbey in 1326, and by 1329 it may already have been in use as a royal residence. In 1370, David II became the first of several kings to be buried at Holyrood. Not only was James II born at Holyrood in 1430, he was crowned, married and laid to rest at Holyrood.[3] James III and Margaret of Denmark were married at Holyrood in 1469.[2] The early royal residence was in the abbey guesthouse, which most likely stood on the site of the present north range of the palace, west of the abbey cloister,[3] and by the later 15th century already had dedicated royal apartments.[2]

16th century[edit]

The gatehouse built by James IV, with the palace's James V's Tower behind, in a 1746 drawing by Thomas Sandby.
Detail of a sketch made by an English soldier in 1544, showing the palace and abbey in front of Arthur's Seat.

Between 1501 and 1505, James IV constructed a new Gothic palace adjacent to the abbey. The impetus for the work probably came from the marriage of James IV to Margaret Tudor, which took place in the abbey in August 1503 while work was still ongoing.[2] The palace was built around a quadrangle, situated west of the abbey cloister. It contained a chapel, gallery, royal apartments, and a great hall. The chapel occupied the north range of the quadrangle, with the Queen's apartments occupying part of the south range.[3]

The west range contained the King's lodgings and the entrance to the palace. The master mason Walter Merlioun built a two-storey gatehouse, fragments of which survive in the Abbey Courthouse. The upper floor of the gatehouse was a workshop for the glazier Thomas Peebles until 1537, when it was converted into a space for mending the royal tapestries.[4]

In 1512 a lion house was constructed to house the king's menagerie, which included a lion and a civet among other exotic beasts.[5] James V added to the palace between 1528 and 1536, beginning with the present James V's Tower. This huge rectangular tower, rounded at the corners, provided new royal lodgings at the north-west corner of the palace. Equipped with a drawbridge and probably protected by a moat, the tower provided a high degree of security and is now the oldest part of the Palace of Holyroodhouse surviving today. The west front of the Palace was rebuilt to house additional reception rooms. The elegant design incorporated a double-towered gateway, parapets and large windows. The south side was remodelled and included a new chapel.

This was followed by reconstruction of the south and west ranges of the palace in the Renaissance style, with a new chapel in the south range. The former chapel in the north range was converted into the Council Chamber, where ceremonial events normally took place.[3] The west range contained the royal library and a suite of rooms, extending the royal apartments in the tower.[6] The symmetrical composition of the west facade suggested that a second tower at the south-west was planned, though this was never executed at the time.[7] Around a series of lesser courts were ranged the Governor's Tower, the armoury, the mint, a forge, kitchens and other service quarters.[7]

In 1544, during the War of the Rough Wooing, the Earl of Hertford sacked Edinburgh, and Holyrood was looted and burned. Repairs were made by Mary of Guise, and in May 1559 she had a new altarpiece installed in the Chapel Royal of the palace,[8] featuring paintings from Flanders set in a frame made by a French carpenter Andrew Mansioun.[9] The altars were destroyed by a Reforming mob later in the same year, and after the Scottish Reformation was formalised, the abbey buildings were neglected. The choir and transepts of the abbey church were pulled down in 1570. The nave was retained as the parish church of the Canongate.[6]

The Murder of David Rizzio, painted in 1833 by William Allan.

The royal apartments in the north-west tower of the palace were occupied by Mary, Queen of Scots, from her return to Scotland in 1561 to her forced abdication in 1567.[10] The palace was heated with coal from Wallyford in East Lothian.[11] The Queen had archery butts erected in her private gardens to allow her to practise, and hunted deer in Holyrood Park. There was also a flock of sheep in the Park, managed for the Queen by John Huntar.[12] Some of her French servants formed relationships with women in the Canongate. The Kirk authorities disapproved and made five of these unmarried women stand with bared heads at the cross near the palace for three hours in December 1564.[13]

The series of famous interviews between Mary, Queen of Scots, and John Knox took place at Holyrood, and she married both of her Scottish husbands in the palace: Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, in 1565 in the chapel, and James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, in 1567 in the great hall.[14] It was in the Queen's private apartments that she witnessed the murder of David Rizzio, her private secretary, on 9 March 1566. Darnley and several nobles entered the apartment via the private stair from Darnley's own apartments below. Bursting in on the Queen, Rizzio and four other courtiers, who were at supper, they dragged the Italian through the bedchamber into the outer chamber, where he was stabbed 57 times.[15]

During the subsequent Marian civil war, on 25 July 1571, William Kirkcaldy of Grange bombarded the Palace with cannon placed in the Black Friar Yard, near the Pleasance.[16] James VI took up residence at Holyrood in 1579 at the age of 13 years. The building was refurbished by William MacDowall with a new north gallery painted by Walter Binning, and an apartment for the king's favourite, Esmé Stewart.[17] In 1590 his wife, Anne of Denmark, was crowned in the diminished abbey church in 1590, at which time the royal household at the palace numbered around 600 persons.[14] The palace was not however secure enough to prevent the king and queen being surprised in their lodgings during two raids in December 1591 and July 1593 by Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell, a nobleman implicated by the North Berwick Witch Trials.[18]

17th century[edit]

When James became King of England in 1603 and moved to London, the palace was no longer the seat of a permanent royal court. James visited in 1617, for which the chapel was redecorated. More repairs were put in hand in preparation for the coronation of Charles I at Holyrood Abbey in 1633.[6] On 10 August 1646 Charles appointed James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton, as hereditary Keeper of Holyroodhouse, an office which his descendants retain.[19] The post is one of the Great Offices in the Royal Household in Scotland, and indeed the private ducal apartments cover a larger area of the palace than the state ones. As well as his own deputy, the Keeper still appoints the Baillie of Holyroodhouse, who is responsible for law and order within the Holyrood Abbey Sanctuary. The High Constables of Holyroodhouse are responsible to the Keeper.

The west range of the palace drawn around 1649 by James Gordon of Rothiemay, prior to reconstruction in the 1670s.

Following the Stuart Restoration in 1660, the Privy Council was reconstituted and once more met at Holyroodhouse. Repairs were put in hand to allow use of the building by the Earl of Lauderdale, the Secretary of State for Scotland, and a full survey was carried out in 1663 by John Mylne.[20] In 1670, £30,000 was set aside by the Privy Council for the rebuilding of Holyroodhouse.[21]

Plans for complete reconstruction were drawn up by Sir William Bruce, the Surveyor of the King's Works, and Robert Mylne, the King's Master Mason. The design included a south-west tower to mirror the existing tower, a plan which had existed since at least Charles I's time. Following criticism from Charles II, Bruce redesigned the interior layout to provide suites of royal apartments on the first floor: the Queen's apartment on the west side; and the King's apartment on the south and east sides. The two were linked by a gallery to the north, and a council chamber occupied the south-west tower.[21]

Work began in July 1671, starting at the north-west, which was ready for use by Lauderdale the following year. In 1675 Lord Hatton became the first of many nobles to take up a grace-and-favour apartment in the palace. The following year the decision was taken to rebuild the west range of the palace, and to construct a kitchen block to the south-east of the quadrangle. Bruce's appointment as architect of the project was cancelled in 1678, with the remaining work being overseen by Hatton.[21] By 1679 the palace had been reconstructed, largely in its present form. Craftsmen employed included the Dutch carpenters Alexander Eizat and Jan van Santvoort, and their countryman Jacob de Wet who painted several ceilings. The elaborate plasterwork was done by John Houlbert and George Dunsterfield.[22]

Interior work was still in progress when James, Duke of Albany, the future James VII and II, and his wife Mary of Modena visited that year.[23] They returned to live at Holyrood between 1680 and 1682, in the aftermath of the Exclusion crisis, which had severely impacted James' popularity in England. When he acceded to the throne in 1685, the Catholic king set up a Jesuit college in the Chancellor's Lodging to the south of the palace. The abbey was adapted as a chapel for the Order of the Thistle in 1687–88. The architect was James Smith, and carvings were done by Grinling Gibbons and William Morgan. The interiors of this chapel, and the Jesuit College, were subsequently destroyed by an anti-Catholic mob, following the beginning of the Glorious Revolution in late 1688.[23] In 1691 the Kirk of the Canongate was completed, to replace the abbey as the local parish church, and it is at the Kirk of the Canongate that Queen Elizabeth II would attend services when in residence at Holyroodhouse.

18th century[edit]

A view of the palace and abbey in 1789

After the Union of Scotland and England in 1707 the palace lost its principal functions, and with the abolition of the Scottish Privy Council the Council Chamber became redundant.[24] The nobles who had been granted grace-and-favour apartments in the palace continued to use them: the Duke of Hamilton had already taken over the Queen's Apartments in 1684. The King's Apartments were meanwhile neglected.[23]

Holyroodhouse briefly became a royal palace once more when Bonnie Prince Charlie held court at the palace for five weeks in September and October 1745, during the Jacobite Rising. Charles occupied the Duke of Hamilton's apartments rather than the unkempt King's Apartments, and held court in the Gallery. The following year, government troops were billeted in the palace, when they damaged the royal portraits in the gallery, and the Duke of Cumberland stayed here on his way to Culloden.[25] Meanwhile, the neglect continued: the roof of the abbey church collapsed in 1768, leaving it as it currently stands. However, the potential of the palace as a tourist attraction was already being recognised, with the Duke of Hamilton allowing paying guests to view Queen Mary's apartments in the north-west tower.[26]

The precincts of Holyrood Abbey, extending to the whole of Holyrood Park, had been designated as a debtors' sanctuary since the 16th century. Those in debt could escape their creditors, and imprisonment, by taking up residence within the sanctuary, and a small community grew up to the west of the palace. The residents, known colloquially as "Abbey Lairds", were able to leave the sanctuary on Sundays, when no arrests were permitted. The area was controlled by a baillie, and by several constables, appointed by the Keeper of Holyroodhouse. The constables now form a ceremonial guard at the palace.[27]

19th century[edit]

Engraving of Holy Rood Palace by Thomas Hearne, drawn in 1778, engraving published 1800 ...
19th-century view of the Palace of Holyroodhouse from Calton Hill.

Following the French Revolution, George III allowed Louis XVI's youngest brother, the Comte d'Artois to live at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where he took advantage of the abbey sanctuary to avoid his creditors. Artois resided at Holyroodhouse from 1796 to 1803, during which time the King's apartments were renovated. The Comte d'Artois inherited the French throne in 1824 as Charles X, but following the July Revolution of 1830, he and his family lived at Holyroodhouse again until 1832 when they moved to Austria.[27]

King George IV became the first reigning monarch since Charles I to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, during his 1822 visit to Scotland. Although he was lodged at Dalkeith Palace, the king held a levée (reception) at Holyroodhouse, and was shown the historic apartments. He ordered repairs to the palace, but declared that Queen Mary's rooms should be protected from any future changes.[28] Over the next ten years, Robert Reid oversaw works including the demolition of all the outlying buildings to the north and south of the quadrangle.[23] In 1834 William IV agreed that the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland could make use of the palace during the sitting of the General Assembly, and this tradition continues today.[23]

On the first visit of Queen Victoria to Scotland in 1842, she also stayed at Dalkeith Palace, and was prevented from visiting Holyroodhouse by an outbreak of scarlet fever.[29] In preparation for her 1850 visit, more renovations were carried out by Robert Matheson of the Office of Works, and the interiors were redecorated by David Ramsay Hay.[30] Over the next few years, the lodgings of the various nobles were gradually repossessed, and Victoria was able to take up a second-floor apartment in 1871, freeing up the former royal apartments as dining and drawing rooms, as well as a throne room.[23] From 1854 the historic apartments in the north-west tower were formally opened to the public.[31]

20th century to the present day[edit]

Although Edward VII visited briefly in 1903, it was George V who transformed Holyroodhouse into a 20th-century palace, with the installation of central heating and electric lighting, the modernisation of the kitchens, the addition of new bathrooms and the provision of a lift. The palace was selected as the site of the Scottish National Memorial to Edward VII and a statue of the king was placed facing the Abbey, on the Forecourt which was enclosed with richly decorated wrought-iron railings and gates. In the 1920s the palace was formally designated as the monarch's official residence in Scotland, and became the location for regular royal ceremonies and events.[32]

The Royal Standard used in Scotland is flown when the monarch is in residence.

Queen Elizabeth II spent one week at the Palace of Holyroodhouse each summer, during which time investitures were held in the Great Gallery, audiences were held in the Morning Drawing Room, a luncheon took place in the Throne Room to celebrate the installation of new Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle, and garden parties were hosted.[33] While she was in residence, the Scottish version of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom was flown; at all other times the Royal Banner of Scotland is displayed.[33] During the Queen's visits, the Royal Company of Archers formed her ceremonial bodyguard. The Ceremony of the Keys, in which she was formally presented with the keys of Edinburgh by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, was held on her arrival.[34] While serving as Prince of Wales, King Charles III also stayed at Holyroodhouse for one week a year, carrying out official duties.[33]

In its role as the official residence of the monarch in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse has hosted a number of foreign visitors and dignitaries, including Harald V of Norway in 1994,[35] Nelson Mandela in 1997,[36] Vladimir Putin in 2003,[37] and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.[38] A meeting of the European Council was held at the palace in December 1992 during the British presidency of the council.[39] Queen Elizabeth II gave a dinner at Holyroodhouse for the Commonwealth heads of government in October 1997 during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh.[40]

The Palace of Holyroodhouse remains the property of the Crown. As the official royal residence in Scotland, building conservation and maintenance work on the Palace and Abbey falls to the Scottish Government and is delivered on their behalf by the Conservation Directorate of Historic Environment Scotland. Public access is managed by the Royal Collection Trust, with revenues used to support the work of the trust as custodians of the Royal Collection.[41] In April 2016 the Royal Collection Trust announced it was to fund a £10m project to redevelop the outside space at Holyroodhouse, including Holyrood Abbey, the grounds and forecourt. The project was completed at the end of 2018 in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, and included the restoration of the Abbey Strand buildings which now house a learning centre.[42]

On 11 September 2022, Queen Elizabeth II's funeral cortege drove from Balmoral Castle to Holyroodhouse with the coffin draped in the Royal Standard for Scotland.[43]


The Quadrangle, designed by Sir William Bruce, reflects the Palace's monastic origins with its cloister-like layout

The Palace of Holyroodhouse as it stands today was designed by Sir William Bruce and built between 1671 and 1678, with the exception of the 16th-century north-west tower built by James V. The palace is laid out round a central, classical-style three-storey plus attic quadrangle layout. The palace extends approximately 230 feet (70 m) from north to south and 230 feet (70 m) from east to west. The 16th-century north-west tower is balanced with a matching south-west tower, each with a pair of circular angle turrets with ball-finialled, conical bell-cast roofs. The towers are linked by a recessed two-storey front, with the central principal entrance framed by giant Doric columns and surmounted by the carved Royal arms of Scotland. Above the arms a crowned cupola with a clock rises behind a broken pediment supported by dolphins, on which are two reclining figures.[44]

The north and south fronts have symmetrical three-storey facades that rise behind to far left and right of the two-storey west front with regular arrangement of bays. General repairs were completed by the architect Robert Reid between 1824 and 1834 that included the partial rebuilding of the south-west corner tower and refacing of the entire south front in ashlar to match that of the east. The east (rear) elevation has 17 bays with lightly superimposed pilasters of the three classical orders on each floor. The ruins of the abbey church connect to the palace on the north-east corner. For the internal quadrangle, Bruce designed a colonnaded piazza of nine arches on the north, south and east facades with pilasters, again from the three classical orders, to indicate the importance of the three main floors. The plain Doric order is used for the services of the ground floor, the Ionic order is used for the State Apartments on the first floor, while the elaborate Corinthian order is used for the royal apartments on the second floor.[45]

Architectural historian Dan Cruickshank selected the palace as one of his eight choices for the 2002 BBC book The Story of Britain's Best Buildings.[46]


The Palace of Holyroodhouse covers 87,120 square feet (8,093 m2) of floor space and contains 289 rooms. The private apartments of The King and the other members of the Royal Family are located on the second floor of the south and east wings. The 17 rooms open to the public include the 17th-century State Apartments, the Great Gallery, and the 16th-century apartments in James V's Tower. The painting An Incident in the Rebellion of 1745 by David Morier is in the lobby of the Palace.[47]

State Apartments[edit]

The landing of the Great Stair.
The Royal Dining Room.
Sir David Wilkie's portrait of the kilted George IV, which hangs in the Royal Dining Room.

The Great Stair in the south-west corner of the Quadrangle has a 17th-century Baroque ceiling featuring plaster angels holding the Honours of Scotland. The Italian paintings on the walls are fragments of frescoes painted circa 1550 by Lattanzio Gambara, illustrating scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses. They were bought by Prince Albert in 1856, and placed here in 1881.[48] At the top of the stair is the Royal Dining Room, which was originally the Queen's Guard Chamber and formed part of the Queen's Apartments. The Adam style decoration dates from around 1800, when this was part of the Duke of Hamilton's apartments.[49] The room was first used as a dining room at the end of Queen Victoria's reign, and continues to be used as such. The room features portraits of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George IV, Victoria and Elizabeth II, along with the 3,000-piece silver banqueting service commissioned to mark the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary in 1935.[49]

The King's Apartments occupied the whole of the south and east sides of the Quadrangle. Accessed from the Great Stair, the suite of rooms comprised a guard chamber, presence chamber, privy chamber, antechamber, bedchamber and closet. The level of privacy, as well as the richness of decoration, increased in sequence. The Throne Room was originally the guard chamber, but was used as the King's Drawing Room from the visit of George IV in 1822, before becoming the Throne Room in 1871.[50] A new ceiling was installed in 1929 to reflect the character of the Charles II originals, and oak panelling incorporating paintings was applied to the walls. The paintings include the Daniël Mijtens portrait of Charles I and Peter Lely's portraits of Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, James VII and Mary of Modena. A pair of upholstered throne chairs made for George V and Queen Mary in 1911 sit upon the dais beneath the Royal Arms of Scotland.[50]

The Evening Drawing Room was originally Charles II's Presence Chamber, where important visitors would have been received by the king. The ornate plasterwork ceiling is one of the original series designed to mark the processional route to the King's Bedchamber.[51] The Royal Family use the room for receptions. The Morning Drawing Room occupy the former presence chamber and privy chamber, and retain their rich 17th-century ceilings. The Morning Drawing Room was Charles II's Privy Chamber. The ceiling is decorated in the corners with cherubs and eagles bearing the cipher of Charles II and the Honours of Scotland, while the long central panels feature heraldic lions and unicorns.[52] Intricate panel carvings by Jan van Santvoort surround the room, and the French tapestries purchased for Charles II in 1668 tell the story of Diana, the hunting goddess.[53] Elizabeth II used the Morning Drawing Room to give private audiences to the First Minister and other visiting dignitaries. The palace will serve as a focal point of gatherings following the Queen's death.

The King's Antechamber, Bedchamber and Closet are laid out along the east side of the palace. The King's Bedchamber, at the centre of the east façade, has the finest of the 17th-century plaster ceilings, augmented by paintings of Hercules by Jacob de Wet II. The 17th-century bed was made for the Duke of Hamilton, although it was long referred to as "Queen Mary's Bed" when it occupied the older Queen's rooms.[54]

The Great Gallery[edit]

The Great Gallery, at 150 feet (45 m) in length, is the largest room in the palace and connects the King's Closet on the east side with the Queen's Lobby in James V's Tower to the west. Bruce devised a simple classical scheme for the room, which features a pair of black marble chimneypieces within Doric surrounds, framed by Ionic pilasters.[55] The most notable decorative features of the gallery are 96 of the 111 original portraits of the Scottish monarchs, beginning with the legendary Fergus I, who supposedly ruled from 330 BC.[56] The Dutch painter Jacob de Wet was commissioned by Charles II to paint the portraits, illustrating both real and legendary monarchs, from Fergus I to James VII. The portraits were completed between 1684 and 1686, and celebrate the royal bloodline of Scotland which the Scots upheld for its continuity and antiquity as an important part of their national identity in the seventeenth century.[57] The Great Gallery has served many purposes over the centuries. Following the Union of 1707 it was the venue for the election of Scotland's representative peers in the House of Lords until 1963. Bonnie Prince Charlie held evening balls in the Gallery during his brief occupation, and following his victory at the Battle of Falkirk Muir in January 1746, the defeated government troops were quartered in the Gallery. While the Comte d'Artois was in residence it served as a Catholic chapel, and in the early 20th century it was used as the State Dining Room.[55] Today it is used for large functions including investitures and banquets.[58] The Gallery contains the Tam o' Shanter Chair, a Gothic-style oak armchair which celebrates the work of Robert Burns. It was made by John Underwood of Ayr from a portion of the roof of Alloway Auld Kirk, which is the setting for much of the poem "Tam o' Shanter". By the time that Burns was at the height of his fame, the Kirk had become a ruin and the timbers of the roof were used to make a number of Burns-related memorabilia and souvenirs. The chair was presented to George IV in 1822.[55]

James V's Tower[edit]

The suite of rooms on the first floor of James V's Tower is accessed from the Queen's Lobby and comprises the Queen's Antechamber and the Queen's Bedchamber, leading from which are two turret rooms or closets.[59] During the 1560s these rooms were occupied by Lord Darnley and, following the rebuilding of the palace in the 1670s, they became part of the Queen's Apartments. The great thickness of the walls is still evident, revealing the ancient defensive origins of this part of the palace.[59] The Duke of Hamilton took over the rooms in James V's Tower from 1684.[60] Much of the decoration of this room dates from the mid nineteenth century, when the historical apartments in James V's Tower were opened to visitors by the Commissioners of Works. The room also contains a series of tapestries and portraits of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, the daughter of James VI.[59]

The Queen's Bedroom (also known as Lord Darnley's Bedchamber) is dominated by the so-called 'Darnley' bed. The bed was actually supplied to the Duke of Hamilton in 1682. The Stuart connection was provided by Bonnie Prince Charlie, who occupied the Duke of Hamilton's apartments in 1745, and slept in this bed.[61] It has been conserved, and is presented behind glass with reduced light levels to protect the fragile textiles. The room is linked by a small spiral staircase to Mary, Queen of Scots' Bedchamber on the second floor.

The suite of rooms on the second floor of James V's Tower was occupied by Mary, Queen of Scots from 1561 until 1567. Mary Queen of Scots' Outer Chamber was where Mary, Queen of Scots received her visitors and where her famous audiences with John Knox took place. It is also the room in which David Rizzio, Mary's private secretary, was stabbed and his alleged bloodstain can be seen in the place where his body was left.[62] The room is now used to display a range of Stuart and Jacobite relics that have been collected by successive sovereigns. Among the relics associated with Queen Mary are an embroidery of a cat and a mouse, made whilst she was in captivity in England. This possibly alludes to her relationship with her cousin, Elizabeth I of England, with Mary as the mouse and Elizabeth the cat.[63] The so-called 'Darnley Jewel', was probably made for the Countess of Lennox, mother of Queen Mary's second husband, Lord Darnley. The emblems and inscriptions refer to the countess's hopes and ambitions for her grandson, the future James VI and I. The Jewel was purchased by Queen Victoria from the collection of Horace Walpole in 1842. The Memorial to Lord Darnley was also commissioned by Lord Darnley's parents, after his murder, and may implicate Queen Mary in his death. Several of the inscriptions have been removed, possibly by James VI and I, depicted as a child in the picture, mourning his father.[62] The compartmented oak ceiling in Mary, Queen of Scots' Bedchamber dates from Queen Mary's time, and the monograms IR (Jacobus Rex) and MR (Maria Regina) refer to her parents, James V and Mary of Guise. Below the ceiling is a deep frieze, painted in grisaille with the Honours of Scotland.[64]

Gardens and grounds[edit]

Bird's-eye view of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey, including the western towers

The gardens of the palace extend to some 10 acres (4.0 ha), set within the much larger Holyrood Park. In the 16th century, a privy garden was located to the north of the palace, accessed via a wooden gallery from the north-west tower. This was removed in the 19th century when Prince Albert took an interest in the grounds, forming a new carriage drive to the north to avoid the Canongate slums and laying out the garden in its present form.[65]

A small garden building, surviving from the 16th century, is known as Queen Mary's Bath House, although it is not thought to have been used for bathing.[66] The sundial to the north of the palace was carved in 1633 by John Mylne,[66] while the sandstone fountain in the centre of the Forecourt was erected in 1858 by Robert Matheson and is based on the design of the 16th-century fountain at Linlithgow Palace.[34] The ornamental screens and the decorative wrought-iron entrance gates to the north, west and south of the Forecourt were designed by George Washington Browne and were erected in 1920 as a memorial to Edward VII, along with a statue of Edward by Henry Snell Gamley which was unveiled by George V in 1922.[44] The buildings to the west of the palace are the 19th-century guardhouse which replaced the tenements of debtors' sanctuary, and adjacent to this, the former Holyrood Free Church and Duchess of Gordon's School, built in the 1840s. These buildings were converted into the Queen's Gallery in 2002 to display works of art from the Royal Collection.

In 1987 the Holyrood Palace and Park were added to the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.[67]

"Big Royal Dig"[edit]

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, along with Buckingham Palace Garden and Windsor Castle, was excavated on 25–28 August 2006 as part of a special edition of Channel 4's archaeology series Time Team. The archaeologists uncovered part of the cloister of Holyrood Abbey, running in line with the existing abbey ruins, and a square tower associated with the 15th-century building works of James IV was discovered. The team failed to locate evidence of the real tennis court used by Queen Mary to the north of the palace, as the area had been built over in the 19th century. An area of reddened earth was discovered, which was linked with the Earl of Hertford's burning of Holyrood during the Rough Wooing of 1544. Among the objects found were a seal matrix used to stamp the wax seal on correspondence or documents,[68] and a French double tournois coin, minted by Gaston d'Orleans in 1634.[69]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Holyrood". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Clarke, p. 8.
  3. ^ a b c d e McWilliam et al. p. 125.
  4. ^ John G. Dunbar, Scottish Royal Palaces (Tuckwell: East Linton, 1999), pp. 57–59, 178, 198.
  5. ^ Clarke, p. 9.
  6. ^ a b c McWilliam et al. p. 126.
  7. ^ a b Clarke, p. 10.
  8. ^ Henry Paton, Accounts of the Master of Works, vol. 1 (HMSO: Edinburgh, 1957), p. 298.
  9. ^ Michael Pearce, 'A French Furniture Maker and the 'Courtly Style' in Sixteenth-Century Scotland’, Regional Furniture, 32 (2018), p. 130.
  10. ^ Alexandra Johnson, 'Mary Stuart's Inner Chamber at Holyrood', Stephan Hoppe, Krista De Jonge, Stefan Breitling, The Interior as an Embodiment of Power (Heidelberg, 2018), pp. 129–150
  11. ^ Gordon Donaldson, Accounts of the Collectors of Thirds of Benefices, 1561–1572 (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1949), pp. 146, 156.
  12. ^ James Beveridge & Gordon Donaldson, Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol. 5:2 (Edinburgh, 1957), pp. 324–325 no. 3361.
  13. ^ Alma Calderwood, Buik of the Kirk of the Canagait (SRS: Edinburgh, 1961), p. 11.
  14. ^ a b Clarke, p. 12.
  15. ^ Clarke, p. 56.
  16. ^ Thomson, ed., Diurnal of Occurrents (Edinburgh, 1833) pp. 232, 234.
  17. ^ Charles Thorpe McInnes, Accounts of the Treasurer: 1574–1580, vol. 13 (Edinburgh, 1978), pp. 162, 166: Henry Paton, ed, Accounts of the Master of Works, vol. 1 (Edinburgh, 1957), pp. 302–307: Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1574–1581, vol. 5 (Edinburgh, 1907), p. 357.
  18. ^ Edward Cowan, 'Darker vision of the Scottish renaissance', in Renaissance & Reformation in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 132–134.
  19. ^ Clarke, p. 17.
  20. ^ Clarke, p. 14.
  21. ^ a b c McWilliam et al. p. 127.
  22. ^ Clarke, p. 16.
  23. ^ a b c d e f McWilliam et al. p. 128.
  24. ^ Clarke, p. 49.
  25. ^ Clarke, pp. 17–19.
  26. ^ Clarke, pp. 19–20.
  27. ^ a b Clarke, p. 20.
  28. ^ Clarke, p. 22.
  29. ^ Clarke, p. 23.
  30. ^ Clarke, p. 24.
  31. ^ Clarke, p. 26.
  32. ^ Clarke, pp. 27–28.
  33. ^ a b c Clarke, p. 4.
  34. ^ a b Clarke, p. 30.
  35. ^ "Champagne reception a recipe for disaster". The Herald Scotland. 2 July 1994. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  36. ^ "The Queen greets Nelson Mandela at a banquet held at the Palace of Holyrood". Getty Images. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  37. ^ Clarke, p. 5.
  38. ^ "Pope Benedict XVI's speech at Holyrood Palace". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  39. ^ "1992 Conservative Party General Election Manifesto". The Conservative Party. Archived from the original on 25 June 2002. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  40. ^ "Court Circular". Court Circular. London. 25 October 1997. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  41. ^ "Organisation of the Royal Collection: Management". The Royal Collection. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  42. ^ "Queen's official residences to undergo £37m tourism revamp". BBC News.
  43. ^ "Queen Elizabeth II's coffin takes long road through Scotland". CP24 News. 11 September 2022. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  44. ^ a b Clarke, p. 28.
  45. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Holyroodhouse, Palace of Holyroodhouse... (Category A Listed Building) (LB28022)". Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  46. ^ Cruickshank, Dan. "Choosing Britain's Best Buildings". BBC History. Archived from the original on 31 May 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  47. ^ "David Morier (1705?–70) – An Incident in the Rebellion of 1745". www.rct.uk. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  48. ^ Clarke, p. 31.
  49. ^ a b Clarke, p. 32.
  50. ^ a b Clarke, p. 35.
  51. ^ Clarke, p. 36.
  52. ^ Clarke, p. 38.
  53. ^ Clarke, pp. 38–39.
  54. ^ Clarke, pp. 43–45.
  55. ^ a b c Clarke, p. 42.
  56. ^ Fergus I, King of Scotland (330–305 B.C.) Jacob Jacobsz de Wet II (Haarlem 1641/2 – Amsterdam 1697), Royal Collection Trust
  57. ^ C. Wemyss, "The Art of Retrospection and the Country Houses of Post-Restoration Scotland" Architectural Heritage XXVI (2015), p. 32.
  58. ^ Clarke, pp. 49–50.
  59. ^ a b c Clarke, p. 45.
  60. ^ Clarke, pp. 51–52.
  61. ^ Clarke, p. 47.
  62. ^ a b Clarke, p. 51.
  63. ^ Clarke, p. 52.
  64. ^ Clarke, p. 48.
  65. ^ Clarke, p. 64.
  66. ^ a b Clarke, pp. 63–64.
  67. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Palace of Holyroodhouse (GDL00308)". Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  68. ^ "Seal Matrix". Time Team Big Royal Dig. Channel 4. Archived from the original on 20 June 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  69. ^ "Double Tournois". Time Team Big Royal Dig. Channel 4. Archived from the original on 20 June 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2011.


External links[edit]