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The Fife of Mary Queen of Scots

Mary's Kingdom

As Mary Queen of Scots movie releases in cinemas Friday 18th January, we take a look at the Fife connections of the woman whose personal charm captivated almost everyone she met. 

  • Falkland Palace & Gardens - Mary Queen of Scots was enchanted with Falkland palace, and took advantage of Falkland’s vast estate to pursue falconry and hunting, while also enjoying a game of tennis in what is now the oldest surviving real (or royal) tennis court in the world.
  • A captivating willow sculpture of this tragic Scottish queen takes pride of place in the orchard at Falkland Palace, commemorating her importance as one of the many colourful threads in Falkland’s, and Fife’s royal tapestry.
  • Balgonie Castle - Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Sibbald of Balgonie, married George, 4th Earl of Angus. A descendant of this marriage was Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary Queen of Scots. Queen Mary spent the night at Balgonie before going on to Wemyss Castle, where she met Darnley for the first time.
  • Mary Queen of Scots, first spied Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, in 1565 at Wemyss Castle - the historic family seat of renowned vintners and spirits merchants, the Wemyss family (pronounced 'weems'). To mark that historical moment, Darnley’s Gin launched in 2010 originally as Darnley’s View Gin, and although they’ve since shortened the name, that historical moment is very much part of their story.
  • Rossend Castle - A young Frenchman named Pierre Du Châtelard followed Mary on a progress and at Rossend Castle, Pierre managed to get into her bedroom. On this occasion the queen was in situ and in a state of undress. Pierre accosted the queen and there was rather a lot of shouting and screaming, followed by the arrival of Lord Moray (James Stewart Mary’s illegitimate half-brother) who removed the offending frenchman, arresting him and locking him up in one of the castle’s dungeons. Mary was so outraged by proceedings that she felt that de Chatelard should have been killed on the spot but Moray insisted that the poet be given a trial and executed in the market place at St Andrews which was where the court travelled from Rossend.
  • The painted ceiling from the room she stayed in at Rossend Castle can be viewed at the National Museum of Scotland.
  • Balmerino Abbey - Mary spent a relaxing two days here on her way to St Andrews in 1565. A little in retreat from the Abbey is the Abbot's House now all overgrown with vegetation. Next to it though, is a magnificent Spanish Chestnut tree. It was once believed that this tree was planted by Queen Ermengarde at the foundation of the Abbey in 1229, but tests carried out by the National Trust of Scotland indicate that it is between 400 and 435 years old. It would have been a lot smaller when Mary visited!
  • Dunfermline Abbey - Dunfermline Abbey was founded about 1070 by Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm Canmore. Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Dunfermline Abbey on several occasions while travelling through her kingdom in September 1565 with her new husband, Lord Darnley.
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