Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES. 407 from the deceased King of Scots’ Palace all or most of his princely library, many books of which are now at Speke, particularly four large folios, said to contain the Records and Laws of Scotland at that time. He also brought from the said Palace the Wainscot of the King’s Hall, and put it up in his own hall at Speke, wherein are seen all the orders of architecture, as Tuscan, Dorick, Ionick, Corinthian, and Composite ; and round the top of it this inscription, ‘ SLEEPE . NOT . TILL . YE . HATHE . CONSEDERD . HOW THOW . WAYS . REPENT . YE.’ ” Speke .Hall still exists as one of the fine old manor-houses of Lancashire, and could this tradition be relied on would form an object of peculiar attraction, as the antique wainscot with its quaint moral still adorns the great hall. It proves, however, to be the work of a later age, corresponding to similar specimens in the neighbouring halls, erected in the reign of Elizabeth. It might, indeed, be confidently affirmed, that the Roman orders were not introduced into Scotland till a considerably later period ; but the above description answers very partially to the original. The tradition, however, is probably not altogether without foundation. Two figures of angels, richly gilt, “in form such as are introduced dnder consoles in Gothic architecture,” formerly surmounted the wainscot, evidently no part of the original design, and these, it is conjectured, may have been among the spoils which were carried off from the Palace in 1547.8 The Abbey of Holyrood frequently afforded accomniodation to the Scottish Court, before the addition of a distinct royal dwelling to the ancient monastic buildings, This, it is probable, was not effected till the reign of Janies IV, It is certain, at any rate, that large sums were spent by him in building and decorating the Palace during the interval of four years between his betrothment and marriage to Margaret of England. In the map to which we have so frequently referred, the present north-west tower, which forms the only ancient portion of the Palace as it now stands, is shown standing almost apart, and only joined to the south-west tower of the Abbey Church by a low cloister. To the south of this appears an irregular group of buildings, of considerable extent, and apparently covered with tiles, while the whole houses in the Canongate seem, from the colouring of the drawing, to be only thatched. It is not necessary, however, further to investigate the early history of the Palace here, as most of the remarkable historicd incidents associated with it have already been referred to. The latest writer who has left any account of the old Palace is John Taylor, the Water poet, in the amusing narrative of his Pennylesse Pilgrimage to Scotland in 1618. The following is his description :-‘‘ I was at his Majestie’s Palace, a stately and princely seate, wherein I saw a sumptuous Chappell, most richly adorned with all appurtenances belonging to so sacred 8 pJace, or so royal1 an owner. In the inner court I saw the King’s Armes cunningly carved in stone, and fixed over a doore aloft on the wall, the Red Lyon being the Crest, over which was written this inscription in Latin :-No6is h c invicta miserunt 106 Proavi. I inquired what the English of it was? it was told me as followeth, which I thought worthy to be recorded-106 Fore-fatAers have left this to us unconquered;”-an interpretation which leads the Water poet into a series of very loyal EL4ST. SPENT. YE. DAY. PAST . IF . THOW. HAVE. WELL . DON. THANK. GOD . LF . OTHEB . Fide Archadogia Scotica, vol. iv. ; from whence the inscription ia correctly given. ’ Ibid, p. 14,
Volume 10 Page 446
  Enlarge Enlarge  
408 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. reflections on “ this worthy and memorable motto! ” The visit of Taylor to the Palace and Chapel was almost immediately after that of James VI. to Scotland, so that he no doubt saw them in all the splendour which had been prepared for the King’s reception. The palace was probably abandoned to neglect and decay after the last visit of Charles I. in 1641, otherwise it is probable that Cromwell would have taken up his abode there during his residence in Edinburgh. The improvements, however, effected by Charles, both on the Palace and Abbey Church, appear to have been considerable. One beautiful memorial of his residence there is the elaborately carved sun-dial which still adorns the north garden of the Palace, and is usually known as Queen Mary’s Dial, although the cipher of her grandson, with those of his Queen and the Prince of Wales, are repeated on its most prominent carvings. The Palace was converted into barracks by Cromwell soon after his arrival in Edinburgh, and as Nicoll relates, ‘ I ane number of the Englisches futemen being ludgit within the Abay of Haly Rud HOUSi,t fell out that upone an Weddinsday, being the threttene day of November 1650, the hail1 royal1 pairt of that palice wes put in flame, and brint to the ground on all the pairtes thairof.’’I The diarist, however, has afterwards qualified this sweeping assertion by adding, “ except a lyttel ; ” and there is good reason for believing that the oldest portion of the Palace, usually known as James the Fifth’s Tower, entirely escaped the conflagration, as its furniture, if not so old as Queen Mary’R time, certainly at least dates in the reign of Charles I., some of it being marked with the cipher of that monarch and his Queen, Henrietta Maria. A fac-simile of a rare print, after a drawing by Gordon of Rothiemay, in the first volume of the Bannatyne Miscellany, preserves the only view of the Palace that has come down to us as it existed prior to this conflagration. The main entrance appears to occupy nearly the same site as at present. It. is flanked on either side by round embattled towers, or rather semicircular bow windows, between which is a large panel, surmounting the grand gateway, and bearing the royal arms of Scotland. A uniform range of building, pierced with large windows, extends on either side, and is flanked on the north by the great tower which still remains, but finished above the battlements asrepresented in the vignette on page 34. The empty panels also which still remain in the front turrets appear to hare been filled with sculptured armorial bearings. No corresponding tower existed at the south-west corner of the building until its remodelling by Sir William Bruce. The Palace was speedily rebuilt by order of the Protector, but his work came under revision soon after the Restoration. The directions given by Charles 11. for its alteration and completion enter into the minutest details, among which such commands as the following were probably dictated with peculiar satisfaction ;-(< Wee doe hereby order you to cause that parte thereof which was built by the usurpers, and doth darken the court, to be taken down.”= The zeal with which both Charles 11. and James VIL devoted. 1 Nicoll’s Diary, p. 35. a Royal warranta. Liber. Cart. p. cxxk The royal orders would appear to have been occasionally departed from, e.g., the Ear1 of Lauderdale writes, by command of Charles II., in 1671 :-“His Maj“. likes the front very well as it is Designed, provided the gate where the King’a coach is to come in be large enough, Aa also he likes the taking doune of that narrow upper parte which was built in Cromwell’a time. Hee likes not the covering of all that betwixt the two great toures with platfoipl at the second storie, but would have it heightened to a third storie, as all the inner court is, and sklaited with skaily as the rest of the court is to be ; ” in all which respecta the original design has evidently been carried out, notwithstanding his Majesty’s directions to the contrary.
Volume 10 Page 447
  Enlarge Enlarge