Audio Point Fourteen – The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

A short sample from Edinburgh Audio Guide – Audio Point Fourteen.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the Monarch in Scotland is located at the end of the Royal Mile opposite the Scottish Parliament.

For five hundred years Holyrood Palace was home to Royals; and now it is the official residence of the King Charles III in Scotland.

Every summer the late Queen Elizabeth II spent one week in residence at Holyroodhouse where she carried out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. This included the notable Royal Garden Party where people were invited from public life as a thank-you for their work and service.

The Palace was founded as an Augustinian monastery in 1128 by the Scottish King David I. You can see the romantic ruins of the Abbey standing next to the Palace.

According to the legend, King David I was hunting in the area when he came across a stag and was thrown from his horse. Looking up in fright at the charging animal he saw a vision of a golden cross shining brightly between the stag’s antlers. Saved by this miracle King David decided to build an abbey on that spot.

The Abbey was founded in honour of the Holyrood or Holy Cross. The word “Holyrood” is derived from the old Scots and old English “hali rood,” which means “holy cross.”

By the 15th century the Abbey guesthouse developed into a royal residence as Scottish Kings preferred green, open spaces of parkland rather than bleak Edinburgh Castle sitting on top of a volcanic rock and exposed to elements.

During the turbulent times of the Scottish Reformation, the Abbey was looted and parts of the building demolished. It the 18th century the Abbey suffered serious structural damage and the roof collapsed leaving the Abbey as we see it today – a ruin without a roof.

The Palace next to the Abbey was built in the 16th century by King James IV of Scotland as a royal residence, and it has been used as such by the Scottish monarchs ever since.

The palace is famous for being the residence of Mary Queen of Scots. She lived in Holyrood Palace for 6 years between 1561and 1567 during her dramatic and turbulent life in Scotland. She married Lord Darnley in the palace chapel, and then she married her third husband, the Earl of Bothwell, it the great hall.

Mary’s private secretary David Rizzio was murdered in her private apartments by a group led by her husband Lord Darnley.

The apartments remain mostly untouched since Mary’s time and are complete with their original furniture.

The Palace suffered significant damage the mid-16th century during the “Rough Wooing” campaign by the English.

In 1650 Cromwell used the Palace as a barracks his troops. The damage done to the Palace during Cromwell’s occupation was severe, and it was several years before the palace was fully restored.

In the 1670s, Charles II initiated a substantial rebuilding of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, following the damage it had sustained during the Cromwell’s occupation.

The rebuilding project was led by the Scottish architect, Sir William Bruce, a master of the Scottish Baroque style. The palace was transformed into one of the grandest and most impressive royal residences of its time. The result is the palace as we see it today.

By the early 20th century, the Holyrood Palace was in need of renovation and modernisation. In 1911, King George V made significant changes, which included installation of central heating, electric lighting, and plumbing systems.

King George V also made significant changes to the palace’s gardens, redesigning them in the Arts and Crafts style, which was popular at the time. He also started the tradition of hosting annual garden parties at the Palace.

This tradition is still carried on by the current British monarchy and it’s still one of the most important events in the Scottish social calendar.