Closet and Cabinet

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

Furnishing the tower house: nobles, lairds, merchants & craftsmen

This post is about the furnishings of tower houses, and the documentary record. The first thing to note is that Scottish furnishings from the sixteenth- and seventeenth centuries are very rare. This may be contrasted with the apparent survival of quantities of English chunky Jacobethan furniture, and it occurs to me that a rather smaller…

Dumbarton Castle: Women at Work

In March 2019 I looked at the history of Dumbarton Castle from 1500 to 1700 for Historic Environment Scotland, highlighting events and people. It was interesting to read of one of the keepers in 1620, Sir John Stewart of Methven who built a castle on his estate Ireland at Mongavlin, while neglecting his duties at…

Keeping a camel at Holyrood Palace

James VI of Scotland, like other renaissance monarchs, kept unusual or exotic pets. We know a lot about his lion from the complaint made by its keeper, Wilhelm Froelich, who had brought the animal from Denmark.  Not all of these animals were diplomatic gifts with an obvious heraldic tie-in. A skipper from Leith, John Downy…