Closet and Cabinet

Mary Dudley (1586-1644), a cousin of Lucy, Countess of Bedford and friend of Lady Ann Clifford, married Alexander, 1st Earl of Home in 1605. Widowed in 1619, she continued to build and extend family townhouses in Edinburgh and London. She was a patron of Nicolas Stone, Isaac de Caus, and the Scottish mason William Wallace.…

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Riddle’s Court: the banquet, the renaissance painted ceiling and diplomacy in 1598

James VI explored various opportunities to maintain his via media in Scotland and secure his accession to the throne of England. When Anne of Denmark’s 19 year old brother Ulric, Duke of Holstein, visited Scotland in 1598 it was intended he would depart with a Scottish embassy to Denmark and the Holy Roman Empire. The…

Litanies of Splendour 

  This blog post is based on an illustrated article for HES Historic Scotland magazine, Winter 2016, pp.24-18. The title used in the magazine was 'Whispers from an age Gone by.' The rich wall hangings and embroidered beds that once graced Scotland’s castles and palaces have long since worn out and been discarded. But sometimes…

Buying timber for building in early seventeenth-century Scotland: from Sweden or on the shore of Leith.

Buying timber for building in early seventeenth-century Scotland: from Sweden or on the shore of Leith. Much timber for furniture and building was imported from Norway and Baltic sources and ports, as far east as Königsberg, now Kaliningrad in Russia.[1] Imported timber for Edinburgh and the Forth valley was stored and sold at the ‘Tymber…

Power of Women at Kinneil

Two rooms with wall paintings were discovered at Kinneil House, East Lothian, in 1936. These were the state rooms of the palace of James Hamilton Regent Arran and Duke of Chatelherault, dating perhaps from c.1550. The larger room has scenes from the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the smaller vaulted room has painted roundels…

Young aristocrats in Paris

Scottish aristocrats went to France to learn French conversation and the accomplishments of dancing, fencing and riding horses in manège in the Parisian riding academies. Meeting and making friends with French aristocrats was a bonus and tutors hoped their pupils would get an audience with the king and kiss his hand. Antoine de Pluvinel’s L’Instruction…

Craftsmen in the royal accounts

The treasury of James V left an extensive archive with the treasurer’s accounts and exchequer rolls. In addition there are two series of household books and inventories of household goods and  Much of the building work on royal palaces is well documented too, with the survival of volumes produced for audit by the Master of…

At Coldingham Abbey in 1592

In 1890 William Fraser recorded a household and teind income account book for Coldingham Abbey in 1592. Fraser noted the physical condition of the booklet as 'partly decayed' or 'much mutilated at the beginning'. He printed a brief summary of the contents and the historical background, and while 'none of the entries contain special historic…

Much laced as the fashion is

The National Records of Scotland has a series of letters from a minor courtier David Cunningham of Auchenharvie to his younger cousin David Cunningham of Robertland in Ayrshire. [1] The writer lived in London and had the office of 'Receiver of rents the king had when he was Prince' or 'Receiver General of the Principality…