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The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Edinburgh, Scotland

[Sunday - 10/23/94] Founded in 1128, the ancient structure of Holyrood Abbey was incorporated into a palace built by James IV, itself remodeled extensively by Charles II in the 16th century. Handsomely furnished in oak paneling and hung with portraits, tapestries, and paintings, the Great Gallery fills the entire first floor of the northern wing. In the Historic Apartments, Rizzio, Italian secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, was stabbed to death by the queen's husband.

The Palace of Holyrood House Legend has it that King David I, son of Malcolm Canmore and St Margaret, was hunting one day in 1128. His horse was startled by a stag which appeared from nowhere, and King David found himself hurled to the ground and in mortal danger of being gored by the stags antlers. In desperation he grasped hold of them whereupon they miraculously changed into a Crucifix. This story has echoes in the similar story of St Hubert in France. That night King David pledged to build an Abbey for Canons devoted to the Cross. Holyrood means "Holy Cross".

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is Her Majesty the Queen's official residence in Scotland. Situated on the edge of Holyrood Park, at the eastern end of the Royal Mile which runs down from Edinburgh Castle. The palace developed from a royal guesthouse which had been part of Holyrood Abbey. The new building was completed for King James IV (1473 - 1513) in 1504, with additions made between 1528 and 1536 by his son King James V (1512-42). The palace was damaged during English invasions, first by the Earl of Hertford (1544), and again by Oliver Cromwell (1650).

Thus, much of the current building was the result of a reconstruction in 1671 by architect Sir William Bruce (1630 - 1710) and builder Robert Mylne (1633 - 1710) for King Charles II (1630 - 1685). The palace includes historic apartments, state rooms and Mary, Queen of Scots, chambers built round three sides of an elegant piazza.

Mary (1542 - 1587) spent much time at Holyrood. Her second and third marriages (to Lord Darnley and the Earl of Bothwell respectively) took place in the Abbey. She looked on as her secretary David Rizzio was murdered in the palace in 1566. Following King James VI (1566 - 1625) accession to the English throne, and move to London (1603), the palace was not used as a royal residence until it was restored for the coronation of King Charles I (1600 - 1649) in 1633.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720 - 1788) briefly held court in the palace in 1745, and this was recounted as one of the most glittering events in Edinburgh society of the time. The next royal to make use of the palace was King George IV during his popular visit to Scotland in 1822. Since then, Holyrood has been used regularly by each succeeding monarch, and today the royal family hosts garden parties at the palace each summer for prominent members of the community in Scotland.

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Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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