Sunday, February 18, 2018

Palace of Holyrood, Holyrood Abbey and the Royal Mile!

Edinburgh Day 2 part 2

Looking up at the Governors House on Calton Hill. The building built from 1815-1817 is what remains of the Calton Gaol. It looks a bit like a fairytale castle, but it was the largest prison in Scotland at the time.

I'd left the outdoor food fest over at George Square and was making my way down the Royal Mile ...

Here's a little Scottish Renaissance lute music for the post.

Love the detail of the signage and beautiful old buildings!

Kirk of the Canongate
Founded in 1688, Completed 1691

This cute church, just about a 5 minute walk from the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It serves the Parish of Canongate, the Scottish Parliament, Palace of Holyroodhouse, and is the parish church of Edinburgh Castle, even though its at the opposite end of the Royal Mile!

It's also where the Queen worships when she's in residence at Holyroodhouse.

I didn't go into the cute church because I realized I was only going to have about an hour at Holyrood.  The thing is, everything takes longer than you think it will take and in Scotland, there is a lot of "last entrance" times that are a half hour to an hour (or even more) before closing. I was hoping to meet my parents there but the whole rental car thing took longer than they thought, so I was on my own for the palace ...

Palace of Holyroodhouse
16th and 17th Century

"House of the Holy Cross"

At one end of the Royal Mile, sitting atop an extinct volcano, is Edinburgh Castle and clear at the other end, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth when she's in town, but its history is long and fascinating. 

Pipers and Dancers at the Palace, 1948

Queen Elizabeth arriving in Edinburgh, 1953
(It's goes on a little long but it's fun to see the beginning especially.)

My favorite thing in the Palace were the rooms of Mary Queen of Scots. Her bedroom has stayed much as it was in the 16th Century. Maybe it was my imagination or all the documentaries and visions of Katherine Hepburn in my head, but I got such a strange feeling in her bedroom. It was as if its history was just a breath away, and I was just for a moment stepping back in time.

It was there, in the little adjacent supper room, that her private secretary, the Italian musician David Rizzio was grabbed and dragged through her bedroom to her Chamber room, to be murdered by her husband and his conspirators. It all happened for Mary to witness, while the queen was 7 months pregnant with her creep of a husband's baby. Not really surprising that her hub wound up dead shortly after, with her married to a hunk played by Nigel Davenport opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the 1971 version. Sorry, I got cinematically distracted!

By the way, did you know they are making a new Mary, Queen of Scots movie?! Mary will be played this time by Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Brooklyn ...) who I adore, and Queen Elizabeth I will be played by Margot Robbie. Hard to imagine miss Robbie as Q.E.1, but I saw a photo online and she was unrecognizable, receding hairline and all.

Below, a BBC Documentary about Holyrood, beginning with Mary, Queen of Scots, through the stay of Bonnie Prince Charlie, to Charles II etc.  In the documentary there are shots of the interiors. There is also a link at the bottom of this post where you can see photos of the interiors. No photography is aloud in the Palace of Holyrood, so this is the best I could do.  It was very cool to see the state rooms, thrown room and one of the big visiting areas where the Queen still receives people. It does feel lived in.

Holyrood Abbey
Founded 1128 AD


The ruins of Holyrood Abbey were so beautiful. This structure adjoins the palace and was my favorite thing about my visit to the grounds, along with Mary Queen of Scots rooms. The energy here was much more pleasant though! Happily, I had some beautiful moments of blue sky!

Here is a quick video with short history of the abbey.

Palace Gardens

I loved this little spot under the buttresses ... It would be a lovely spot to go back and sketch!

After Holyrood, I headed back up the Royal Mile and past the Parliament Building.

It was closed and I was getting hungry, so I didn't get good shots of this interesting building but I loved that on the outside wall, there were quotes by famous Scots.

This is my country
the land 
that begat me
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who toil here
in the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh
and bone of my bone.
~Sir Alexander Gray

 Then let us pray
That come it may
As come it will for a'that
That sense and worth
O'er a the earth, shall bear
The gree, an' a'that
For a' that, an' a'that
It's coming yet for a'that
That man to man
The world o'er,
Shall brothers be
For a'that.
~Robert Burns

The beautiful spire silhouette, below, is that of St. Giles Cathedral.

My parents were trying to figure out where to meet up, so we met at the Whisky Trail on the Royal Mile, and my dad and I did our first Whisky tasting of the trip. (That might have been my idea.)

I go for the very peaty stuff, while he goes a little more mild and not quite so smokey.

The Whisky Trail

These were the 4 that we tried. I have to say I'm a often a sucker for packaging and a pretty label but when it comes to Scotch, I am able to focus. My dad ended up with the bottle of Scotch, second from the right. A lovely smooth award winning Speyside Scotch. I got the one on the far left, and pictured below.

My mom was rolling her eyes at us. "You guys realize it's the second night of the trip, and you're going to have to carry around those bottles for the next 3 weeks?!" Yeah, it might not have been the brightest idea. In fact, it wasn't. But, when my niece and I popped open the bottle after a dinner when I returned to L.A., it felt awfully worth it. Delicious, and 1 of only 875 bottles.

Somehow, after we left the tasting, we scored a table on the next block down at the Whiski Bar and Restaurant, without too much of a wait! Thank goodness! It had been a while since I'd eaten those snacks at the park! On top of that I'd done the Scotch tasting and eaten a couple of short bread cookies, to boost the blood sugar after the palace. Um, protein please?

They played great music and when we were seated we ended up having a wonderful meal. I don't remember what my parents ordered but I had the Scottish Salmon and lemon cream sauce with mash potato. Yum! Why is the Scottish salmon so amazing?? It's so mild and lovely, I ended up eating a lot of it on the trip, and just copious amount of seafood in general!

Apparently, they have live traditional music every night but we were beat! We'd have to wait for our live music for another time.

That was kind of a long day, after having been to the Royal Mile Market, St. Giles Cathedral, National Museum of Scotland (all in my previous post) and then everything in this post. The following day? Mary King's Close, The National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle and out to see the Royal Yacht Brittiania. Yeah, lots to do in and around Edinburgh!

Blessings and light!
(And sorry for the typos! Editing in wee hours!)


Candy said...

Gorgeous! You're right - the Calton Gaol does look like a fairytale castle. You're doing such a good job of writing about your trip that I feel like I went with you. You've also inspired me to start thinking about what books to read on Scotland's history after I finish my current Churchill (my hero) book. Awaiting the next post!

Loree said...

I'm loving everything about Edinburgh. I am sure I'd be eating lost of salmon too as I love it. Not a whiskey drinker though :)

donna baker said...

Oh the beauty - the history.