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.
On 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
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
you would like to Tour Falkland Palace on a highly personalized
small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me: Sandy