A day out the office…

Posted by in Education & Outreach, Placement

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On Monday 8th July Kayleigh, Nikki, Lynsey, Louise and I went with Aisha to visit Falkland Palace and Gardens, where Aisha has been working for the last three months on placement with the National Trust for Scotland. We were very keen to visit and find out more about her project with the Junior Garden Guides, the Falkland Palace Open Evening and the book she has written for the Palace Gardens. Like some of the other places we have been fortunate to visit throughout the traineeship, Falkland Palace is associated with Mary, Queen of Scots. It was a hunting holiday home and was said to be one of Mary’s favourite palaces, having spent some of her happiest times there. As Lochleven Castle is fairly close to Falkland we decided to take a detour and visit the island where Mary had spent a year of imprisonment, and where she had been forced to abdicate in favour of her son, the infant James VI. This gave us the stark contrast between the two properties and an understanding of why Mary referred to Lochleven Castle as her ‘most miserable prison’.

We visited Lochleven Castle first, arriving just as the sun was burning through the clouds! The castle is situated on an island in the middle of Lochleven and we had about an hour wait for the boat so took the opportunity to wander around the shore of the loch, catching a glimpse of Kinross House through the trees and having a look around the Kirkgate Graveyard. The graveyard had a lot of really interesting gravestones but most interesting was the memorial to the grand nephew of Robert Burns, Robert Burns Begg, who was a local sheriff-clerk. The boat to the island took about 10 minutes, and the closer we got to the island the more clearly we could see Kinross House which was designed by Sir William Bruce, the architect who redesigned Holyrood Palace. The castle itself is really striking as you approach it, surrounded by trees and the island is now a designated nature reserve. Once on the island we went into the castle, and there you get a sense of how small it really is, the only remaining parts are the tower where Mary, Queen of Scots was held and some of the darker underground cellars. I personally felt the area had essences of Inchmahome Priory and Craigmillar Castle.

Aisha's Garden Book

After arriving back to the mainland we headed to Falkland Palace where we had a picnic lunch in the Orchard in the blazing sunshine before taking a walk around the gardens with Aisha as our guide. We saw the Garden Book which Aisha designed and wrote, and is now on display in the summerhouse; a great achievement! Before heading to the Royal Tennis Court and around the Main Lawns. We headed indoors for a bit of respite from the sun and looked around the Palace which was stunning; the interior reveals elements of the Royal Stuarts, the later Keepers and the current Keeper’s family, the Crichton Stuarts.  I really liked the Chapel Royal; however all of the rooms were stunning to look at with the tapestries and painted ceilings. The most modern room is the Georgian Library on the top floor,  left almost as it was with family photos and paintings on the walls. The only reconstructed rooms are the King and Queen’s rooms which were destroyed when fire ripped through the East range in 1654. Aisha also showed us the education room which is a really good size and well-equipped for learning.

Needless to say, we were all exhausted by the end of the day and all that was left to do was enjoy an ice-cream in the village of Falkland before the drive home; all in all a fantastic day out!