Forever associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary Queen of Scots
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, also known as Holyrood Palace stands on the edge of Holyrood Park at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle.
Forever associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary Queen of Scots, today’s visitors can explore the magnificent State Apartments, Throne Room, evocative ruins of the 12th-century Holyrood Abbey, beautiful royal gardens and much more.
About the Palace of Holyroodhouse
- As the queen’s official residence in Scotland she and other members of the royal family are usually at the Palace during parts of June and July.
- The Palace of Holyroodhouse developed from the nearby abbey founded by David I in 1128.
- Mary Queen of Scots stayed between 1561 and 1567.
- Charles I had his Scottish coronation at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
- After the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, Cromwell and his army took control of the Palace.
- In 1660, restoration carried out for Charles II transformed the building into the one we see today.
History of the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse developed from the abbey founded by David I in 1128. However it was the work begun by James IV (1488-1513) and later continued by Sir William Bruce for John Maitland, created the first Duke of Lauderdale in 1672, that transformed the building into the royal palace that we see today.
All that remains visible of the original abbey, which adjoins the palace, are the ruins of the nave, the foundations of the choir, transepts and part of the chapter house. Ruins yes, but still potent reminders of Scotland in another age.
Mary Queen of Scots, Holyroodhouse’s best known resident
The burgeoning grandeur of Holyroodhouse was laid to waste as the army of Henry VIII, in 1544 and again in 1547, rampaged through the borderlands and Edinburgh. It was Henry’s response to Scotland’s refusal to allow the marriage between the infant Mary Queen of Scots and his son Prince Edward.
Mary, who lived there between 1561 and 1567, repaired some of the damage although the Palace’s most famous resident is perhaps better known for more sinister reasons. Her story, as it played out within the Palace walls, was one of intrigue, adultery and murder.
Although following the Union of the Crowns in 1603 it was used less, there was still a royal role for the building. In 1633, for example, it was the venue for the Scottish coronation of the deeply unpopular Charles I.
However by the time Oliver Cromwell arrived in Edinburgh after his victory over the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, Charles had met his executioner on a Whitehall balcony.
Cromwell it seems was in no mood to leave the city with the building remaining intact and once again the Palace of Holyroodhouse was sacked and left burning.
Other notable figures who visited, included the Young Pretender, one Charles Edward Stuart who stayed briefly in 1745, as did the Duke of Cumberland the following year after victory over Charles at the Battle of Culloden.
By the time George IV visited Scotland in 1822 the Palace had deteriorated and wasn’t really fit to host royal events. Fortunately Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert were more passionate about Scotland and made a considerable investment in the building and surrounding park.
The nearby Queen’s Gallery (outside the Palace gates) holds a regular programme of exhibitions from the royal collection.
How to get to the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is located on Canongate, at the foot of Royal Mile. If you’re travelling on a tour coach you can park directly at the venue. While there is parking for private cars in nearby places it can be problematic during the busy summer months. There are a number of local buses which will drop you close to the venue or the walk from Waverley Station will take around 15-20 minutes.