Heritage

All the Historic Castles and Homes Connected to Mary, Queen of Scots

We take a virtual tour around the historic homes associated with the ill-fated Queen.
IMAGE RICHARD PHIBBS FOR TOWN & COUNTRY
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Following the release of the blockbuster film starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, we explore the locations in which the tragic monarch spent pivotal periods of her life.

1. Linlithgow Palace


Mary was born on 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow Palace, which her French mother, Mary of Guise-Lorraine, compared favorably to the noblest châteaux of her homeland. The little princess’s father, James V, lay fatally ill at Falkland Palace following the Battle of the Solway Moss and never saw his daughter. At six days old, Mary, his only surviving legitimate child, became queen.

2. Stirling Castle


One of the finest Renaissance buildings in Britain, Stirling Castle sits on an imposing crag. Henry VIII, anxious to form a stronger alliance with Scotland following his break with Rome, proposed a marriage between Mary and his young son Edward, but this was rejected by the Scottish Parliament. In the company of her wet nurse, 2,000 cavalry and 1,000 infantry, Mary was taken from Linlithgow to the greater security of Stirling, and crowned there in September 1543, when she was nine months old.

3. Dumbarton Castle


Henry VIII did not take rejection well. The ‘Rough Wooing’, as it became known, of Mary and Scotland continued. By February 1548, Scotland had suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Pinkie. Mary was spirited to the west coast of Scotland, to Dumbarton Castle, a stronghold that had existed for nearly 1,500 years. Here they waited for the French fleet to take Mary to the safety of her maternal family and to a marriage with the French dauphin.

4. Palace of Holyroodhouse


Following the death of her first husband, Francis II of France, Mary returned to Scotland in 1561 at the age of 18. Holyrood Palace, where she resided in a second-floor bedchamber, would be her principal home for the next six years. It was in Holyrood that she married her second and third husbands, Lord Darnley and the Earl of Bothwell. One evening in 1566, when she was heavily pregnant, her Italian secretary Rizzio was murdered by a group of noblemen led by her husband, Darnley.

5. Traquair House


In 1566, Mary accepted an invitation to a hunting expedition on the estate of the Captain of her Bodyguard, the Laird of Traquair. An apparently unrepentant Darnley accompanied her, and was rebuked by the laird for his unkindness when Mary whispered to him that she suspected she was pregnant again and wished to sit out the hunt. The oldest lived-in property in Scotland, Traquair House is still owned by descendants of the Laird’s family, and you can sleep like a queen in one of three exquisite rooms.

6. Edinburgh Castle


Dating from the 12th century, this iconic castle dominates the Edinburgh city skyline, and was recently voted the top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards. It is in Edinburgh Castle that Mary was presented to the Scottish people on her return from France. While it offered neither the beauty nor the comfort of other royal residences, it offered refuge, first in 1566 after the murder of Rizzio, and then in 1967 when her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell provoked her noblemen to take up arms against her.

7. Lochleven Castle


Following her defeat at the Battle of Carberry Hill by noblemen outraged by her marriage to Bothwell, who was implicated in Darnley’s death, Mary was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle in Perthshire for nearly a year. Her suffering was heightened by the miscarriage of Bothwell’s twins and forced abdication in favor of her son. Yet Mary found admirers, too: the youngest Douglas son, George, was said to be besotted by her, and eventually facilitated her escape from her island prison. She was, sadly, not to remain free for long.

*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.co.uk

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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