Project Gutenberg's Peeps at Royal Palaces of Great Britain, by Beatrice Home

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Title: Peeps at Royal Palaces of Great Britain

Author: Beatrice Home

Release Date: August 28, 2017 [EBook #55450]

Language: English

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The Bloody Tower and the Wakefield Tower, in which the Crown Jewels are kept.

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If a palace be a royal residence, as the dictionary defines it, then nearly all the famous castles of England would come under that title, for the Norman and Plantagenet Kings were constantly moving from one stronghold to another during the unsettled period of the Middle Ages. Until the fifteenth century, both the English and Scottish Kings resided in impregnable castles or fortified houses, but their sojourn was never long in one place. After the Wars of the Roses had crushed the power of the great nobles, it was no longer necessary for the monarch to dwell within a fortress, and it was then that the gracious and commodious palaces of Whitehall, Hampton Court, and Greenwich, arose in England. The Scottish Kings, having at the same time reached a greater control over their headstrong nobles, also began transforming their castles into palaces, and to erect Holyrood and Falkland to gratify their desire for more luxurious residences.

Within the compass of this small book, it would have been impossible to detail every castle in which a monarch ever resided, so that it has been thought better to confine attention to those palaces which were owned, and most constantly used by the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland.

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THE TOWER OF LONDON frontispiece
ST. JAMES'S PALACE On the cover

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Scarcely anything remains to-day to remind us of the vast size and the magnificence of the Palace of Westminster, the royal residence of the English Kings from the time of Edward the Confessor until the reign of Henry VIII. For five centuries the monarchs of England kept their Court on the island of Thorney, within the sound of the bells of the great minster raised by the piety of the saintly Edward. Though the early Kings were seldom long in one place, they regarded Westminster as their principal palace, and often kept their Christmas festivals there, a time of general feasting at the royal expense.

Cnut is supposed to be the first King to settle at Westminster, whither he had gone, after his conversion to Christianity, to be near his friend Abbot Wolfstan, and we are told that the incident of his rebuke to his courtiers concerning the tide occurred on the shores of the River Thames. At that time Westminster was surrounded by water, being built on the island of Thorney, an islet that rose out of the low-lying marshy ground overspread by the wide and unembanked river.

It is customary to attribute the ruin of the many beautiful [pg 6] and stately buildings of past ages, to the agency of civil wars, the fanatical zeal of Protestant reformers, or the carelessness of the Cromwellian soldiers; but far more deadly foes than the cannon-balls of enemies or the mistaken energies of religious zealots, were the destructive fires that time and again destroyed the splendid structures that adorned the vanished centuries. Westminster, though immune from other foes, suffered terribly from fires, which have robbed us of the greatest part of one of the most picturesque of palaces. Just after Edward I. had finished repairing his royal dwelling a huge fire broke out, so tremendous that the palace was rendered uninhabitable, obliging the King to accept the hospitality of York Place, the London house of the Archbishops of York. Edward II. rebuilt the palace, which remained the main royal residence until a disastrous fire in 1512 drove the monarchs away for ever. Though much was destroyed, a considerable part of the King's house remained, together with the beautiful chapel of St. Stephen and the great hall of the palace; but yet another fire attacked this remnant in 1834. From this last conflagration only Westminster Hall, the crypt of the chapel, and an old tower (now hidden away among the narrow byways of the abbey precincts) survived.

The Palace of Westminster, described by Camden as "large and magnificent, a building not to be equalled in that age," was of great extent, stretching from the abbey to the river. It consisted of a mass of rambling buildings erected with little regard to any fixed plan, but resulting in a picturesque medley of gabled roofs, carved stonework, delicate window tracery, noble halls, and exquisite chapels. Medieval palaces required to be large, for all the King's work was done upon his own premises. [pg 7] Bakers, brewers, chandlers, armourers, blacksmiths, carpenters, furriers, masons, gardeners, barbers, stablemen, embroiderers, weavers—all lived and worked within the palace walls, and received wages and lodging. As Sir Walter Besant tells us, in his fascinating history of Westminster, the palace was "a crowded city, complete in itself, though it produced nothing and carried on no trade; there were workshops and forges and the hammerings of armourers and blacksmiths, but there were no stalls, no chepe, no clamour of those who shouted their goods and invited the passengers to 'Buy, buy, buy.'" Within this city, crowded within a confined space, dwelt about fifteen thousand people all occupied with the King's business, from the judges, bishops, and high State officials, down to humble laundry-women.

A strongly-fortified wall ran all round the palace, for medieval Kings needed their royal residences to be places of defence as well as of regal splendour. There were gates leading to the Abbey, to Whitehall, and to the river, where the King's barges lay to take him down to the Tower of London in the city, or up the river towards Windsor. Immediately beyond the busy throng of the palace and the monastic buildings of the Abbey, lay green fields and pleasant rural scenes. Between the palace and the noisy city, a mile away, stood palatial houses of the great nobles and bishops, facing the broad and sparkling Thames.

Of all the beautiful buildings that once formed the extensive palace only the great hall remains, now known as Westminster Hall. William Rufus built it in 1097, declaring that, large though it might appear, it was "but a bedchamber" in comparison to what he intended to make. But practically nothing is left of the work of [pg 8] Rufus, for we learn that three hundred years later, in 1397, Richard II. ordered the "walls, windows, and roof to be taken down and new made." The following year Richard, the most magnificent of the English Kings, kept his royal Christmas in the newly finished hall. Dressed in cloth of gold, adorned with pearls and precious stones, Richard entertained ten thousand people, necessitating the purchase of twenty-eight oxen, three hundred sheep, and numberless fowls every day for the feeding of his guests. He little thought that a few months hence the Parliament meeting in that very hall would depose him.

This famous hall has witnessed some of the most spectacular, splendid, and tragic events in the history of the nation, from the Coronation banquets held within its walls, a-glitter with gorgeous raiment and all the pageantry of the past, to the sombre procedure of State trials. Perhaps the best remembered scene is that of the trial of Charles I., who had been brought hurriedly from Windsor, and was lodged during his trial in part of the old palace, then used as the residence of Sir Ralph Cotton. Standing, a monarch tried by his subjects, Charles Stuart remains for all time a dignified figure, not deigning to plead before such a self-constituted Court.

For many centuries justice was administered from the hall, judges sitting in different parts determining Chancery cases or those of Common Pleas.

The most-to-be-regretted loss caused by the fire of 1834 is that of the chapel royal of the palace, the chapel of St. Stephen. From an account of its architectural detail, which has fortunately been preserved, one gathers that it was a most beautiful and exquisite piece of work, as rich and stately as any in the country. King Stephen is supposed to have founded it, but [pg 9-10] Edward I. rebuilt it, only to have his building burnt down a few years later. His grandson, Edward III., restored it in such splendour that, as Camden says, "he seems rather to have been the founder than only the repairer." He made it a collegiate church, endowing it with so much wealth after his victories in France that it almost rivalled its wealthy neighbour, the Abbey of Westminster. Indeed, this royal munificence brought about considerable quarrelling with the Abbey, whose inmates grudged the Masses being said at St. Stephen's, when they might have been said in the Abbey and so enriched their coffers. In this new chapel Richard II. married his first wife, Anne of Bohemia.

Westminster Hall.

From an engraving by Hollar.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the King granted to the Commons of England, who had hitherto met in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, the use of St. Stephen's Chapel, and there they have met ever since, except once during the reign of Charles I. For the reception of the members the beautiful chapel was ruthlessly altered, but enough of the original work remained to make the fire of 1834 a disaster to all lovers of graceful architecture. The present House of Commons is built upon the site of the old collegiate buildings, and only the crypt of the church remains to remind us of the royal chapel of our Plantagenet Kings.

All the other historic rooms have vanished. Nothing is left of the Painted Chamber, where Edward the Confessor died, the long room whose painted walls depicted the story of the Confessor's life upon one side, while the other was devoted to the Wars of the Maccabees. These paintings were unknown until 1800, when the tapestry that covered them was removed, and thus revealed the meaning of the room's designation. Gone, [pg 11] too, is the old House of Lords, used by the peers until the Commonwealth, where the famous tapestry representing the defeat of the Spanish Armada was hung. In the vaults underneath, originally the Confessor's kitchen, Guy Fawkes and his fellow-conspirators stored the barrels of gunpowder with which to blow up the Parliament. After the Restoration the Lords removed to the White Hall of the palace, taking the Armada tapestry with them, which, together with so much of fascination and historic interest, perished in the all-embracing fire of 1834.



Standing upon a steep chalk cliff that rises abruptly from the River Thames, Windsor Castle towers above the low-lying river meadows, and, looking beyond the town that clusters round it, gazes proudly over twelve adjacent counties. For more than eight centuries a castle has stood upon this cliff-top, the defensive qualities of such a perfect natural stronghold having appealed to all the royal rulers of England.

In Saxon times the mound was defended by some kind of wooden palisade, which William the Conqueror replaced with stone, nothing of which now remains. Henry II., the first of the Plantagenet Kings, built his palace there, erecting it upon what is known to-day as the Upper Ward, the castle being divided into three distinct sections or tiers. The Upper Ward, situated upon a higher level of the plateau, is separated from the Lower Ward by the Round Tower, which stands upon a mound in the centre.

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Perhaps the most exciting times that the castle ever witnessed took place in the reign of John; certainly one of the most important events in the history of the English people is connected with its grey walls. John had filled the castle with mercenary troops, with which to defend himself against his insurgent barons. Protected by these foreigners, who fought with extreme bravery, the castle sustained two sieges, the only active warfare in which it took any serious part. Owing doubtless to its almost impregnable situation before the days of artillery, it remained calm and secure, however disturbed other parts of the kingdom might be. One summer day in the year 1215 King John, overawed by the great gathering of armed barons within sight of his castle, left his stronghold on the hill, and full of rage rode down to the meadow of Runnymede, near Staines. There he was forced to sign the Great Charter of English Freedom, an action which reduced him to such a pitch of impotent fury that when he reached the castle again, he rolled on the ground, gnawing sticks and straws.

It is to John's son, Henry III., that the present aspect of the castle is due, for though walls and towers have been rebuilt since his time, the general appearance remains the same. He was the first great builder, and beginning early with a reign of over fifty years before him, he was able to carry out his extensive building schemes. Deserting the Upper Ward, where all his predecessors had lived, he built his palace on the Lower plateau, also erecting a chapel on the site of St. George's. Less than a century after his death palace and chapel had vanished, fallen into a rapid decay, so that almost the only records of his work to-day are to be found in the Curfew Tower, and the Cloisters.

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The first King to be born at Windsor was Edward III., who spent great sums upon his palace, practically rebuilding the whole castle. Being a great warrior, loving war and glory, he became enamoured with the idea of founding an Order of Knighthood that should become as illustrious as that of King Arthur, who was believed to have some connection with Windsor. A Round Tower was built upon the mound, to hold the Round Table, and great festivities were held there in 1344, but this Round Table idea forms no part of the great Order—the Order of the Garter—instituted in 1348. It is thought that Froissart confused these two celebrations.

Windsor Castle: Entrance to the Horseshoe Cloisters.

Under the superintendence of William of Wykeham, afterwards the great Bishop of Winchester, but employed by Edward III. as his surveyor of works, the Lower Ward was entirely given up to the service of St. George, the patron saint of the new Order. This involved the building of a new palace, which was erected upon the Upper Ward, hitherto merely walled and left vacant. At the time when these great building schemes were in progress, there were two captive Kings within the castle, for Edward did not entirely devote his energy to palace [pg 14] building, which merely formed a pleasing interlude to the long and ambitious wars which occupied his life. David II. of Scotland had been captured at Neville's Cross in 1346, and ten years later John, the King of France, joined him at Windsor, having fallen to the Black Prince at Poitiers. It is said that Edward, while walking with his prisoners, discussed with them the building of his new palace. They suggested that it would look more regal if it stood upon the Upper Ward, at which Edward cynically remarked that it should be erected at the cost of their ransoms. But as King John's ransom was never paid, and Scotland was too poor a country to provide much even to redeem their King, Edward was obliged to do most of the paying of the bill himself.

Good Queen Philippa, the sweet woman who had been the gentle inspiration of Edward's life, fell ill at Windsor in August, 1369, an illness of which there was "no remedy but death," says Froissart, who writes very sympathetically of her last moments. Edward, the bravest knight in Christendom, stood weeping at her bedside as she whispered to him her last requests, that he should pay her debts, carry on her charities, and be buried beside her. Froissart tells us that "in all her life she did neither in thought, word, nor deed, things whereby to lose her soul." So that he was confident that "the holy angels received her with great joy up to heaven."

During the reign of Henry V., Windsor again became a royal prison-house, Scotland's youthful King, James I., spending about ten years of his life there. He had been captured when quite a lad on his way to France to be educated, and had received a good education at the hands [pg 15] of his captors, who had treated him kindly, allowing him considerable liberty. While at Windsor he met his future queen, then the Lady Joan Beaufort, the daughter of the Earl of Somerset, whom he describes in his poem, "The King's Quair," as "the fairest and freshest youthful flower" he had ever seen. After his release in 1424, they were married in Southwark Cathedral, setting off immediately afterwards for Scotland.

"The Royal Saint," as Henry VI. has been called, did not spend time or money upon his palace at Windsor, but was enthusiastic over the founding of Eton College, which he erected on the opposite bank of the winding river, so that he could see it from his palace windows. In his zealous activity to make this college worthy of the Virgin Mary, in whose honour it had been founded, poor King Henry forgot his kingdom, and found himself deposed long before his schemes were perfected. He lies buried in St. George's Chapel, under a plain stone slab, having been brought thither from Chertsey Abbey by Richard III., who did not care for miracles to be performed at his victim's grave, and preferred to have the body under his own observation.

As a form of penitence for having waded "through slaughter to a throne," Edward IV. is said to have erected the beautiful chapel dedicated to St. George, which replaced the one built by Edward III. One of the finest specimens of pure Perpendicular architecture in England, it is the most impressive and stately building enclosed within the walls of Windsor Castle. Its glorious fan tracery is only rivalled by Henry VIII.'s Chapel at Westminster and King's College Chapel, Cambridge—all three being built during the latter half of the fifteenth century. But the choir, perhaps, attracts [pg 16] more attention than any other part of the chapel, for there are to be found the richly-carved stalls allotted to the use of the Knights of the Order of the Garter. Above each stall is placed the helmet of the Knight, while his splendidly emblazoned banner hangs over it. At his death the helmet and banner are removed, but his gilded brass plate upon the back of the stall remains, so that upon these stalls can be seen the gilded plates of some of the most illustrious names in history.

The succeeding monarchs from Edward IV. to the time of Elizabeth did little either to alter or adorn their palace by the shining Thames. Henry VIII., who was very fond of Windsor and often resided there till he obtained Hampton Court Palace from his great Minister, Cardinal Wolsey, rebuilt the main entrance to the Lower Ward which is known by his name. In the vault beneath the choir of St. George's bluff King Hal found a resting-place beside Jane Seymour, his third wife, but no monument has been raised to his memory.

Almost the only part of the palace which has remained unaltered since its erection is the Royal Library, part of the building facing the North Terrace. Built by Queen Elizabeth as a picture gallery, it is a fine specimen of a Tudor room, with a beautiful ceiling and a handsome stone chimney-piece. It is said that the "Merry Wives of Windsor" was first performed in this gallery, the play having been written in a fortnight at the Queen's command that Shakespeare should write a play about Sir John Falstaff in love. The Virgin Queen is also responsible for the North Terrace, on to which the gallery opened.


Has been a stronghold of importance since Saxon times. St. George's Chapel,
whose long roof-line can be seen in the picture, was built by Edward IV.

During the Civil War the castle was held by the Parliamentary forces, whose mere presence behind the [pg 17] strong walls was sufficient to repel Prince Rupert, Charles I.'s headstrong nephew, who had hoped with a small body of horse to surprise the castle. No further attempt was made by the Royalists to capture the royal fortress, to which King Charles was brought as a prisoner in December, 1648. For three years the unhappy King had been a captive, driven from prison to prison, Windsor being his last resting-place before his trial and death in London. Charles must have become aware that dangers were thickening round him, when, having refused to admit Denbigh bearing the last overtures of the Army, all ceremonies of State were omitted, his meals no longer being served to him on bended knee. After the tragedy at Whitehall, the body of the King was brought to Windsor and buried hurriedly one snowy February morning, in the vault below the choir, by the side of Henry VIII. At the Restoration £70,000 was voted by the Parliament to erect a fitting memorial, but for some unexplained reason his coffin could not be found, though two of the Lords who had carried his body to the grave were still living. Though the leaden coffin was identified in 1813, no monument has yet been raised to the most unfortunate if also the most unwise of British sovereigns.

His son, Charles II., employed Sir Christopher Wren to make additions to the palace. Much of this work still remains practically as it was in the days of the Merry Monarch, for whose dining-room (now called the State Ante-room) Verrio painted the ceiling and Grinling Gibbons carved the walls.

No monarch is more intimately associated with Windsor than George III., who loved the place which had been cordially disliked and neglected by his two [pg 18] predecessors. So complete had been the neglect, that the castle was quite unfit for habitation, obliging the Royal Family, during the process of repairs, to live in an ugly stuccoed building known as the Queen's Lodge, built on the site of the present royal stables. Owing to the minute chronicle of their daily events in the diary of Fanny Burney, we know exactly what the good commonplace King and Queen did and said during their residence at Windsor. So much had Queen Charlotte admired "Evelina," that she thought no greater honour could be done to the gifted authoress than to make her a dresser to her royal self, a condescension which almost overwhelmed shy Fanny Burney, who accepted the post, little dreaming of the drudgery it entailed. Everything went by routine in the Court life: the same things were done every day at precisely the same time they were done the day before, with a monotony which Thackeray declares must have rendered the life, frugal and virtuous as it was, stupid to a degree which he shuddered to contemplate. Poor King George spent the last ten years of his life, hopelessly insane and quite blind, confined in rooms overlooking the North Terrace, and was buried in the new tomb-house which he had cut in the solid chalk, under what is now known as the Albert Memorial Chapel.

George IV. carried on the repairs commenced by his father, living meanwhile in a lodge in the park. Over a million pounds was spent upon the alterations and furnishing of the royal apartments. When Sir Jeffry Wyattville, the architect to whom the work had been entrusted, had completed his task, Windsor Castle appeared exactly as it does to-day. The walls and [pg 19] towers had been repaired and refaced, the brick buildings within the walls had been cleared away, the Round Tower raised by forty feet so that it dominated the whole pile, and the present State apartments built on the south and eastern sides of the Upper Ward.

Though Windsor Castle cannot claim so fascinating or romantic a history as that of other royal palaces, yet it can boast that while its more picturesque rivals have either vanished or ceased their careers as palaces, it alone remains a royal residence with a story stretching back to the Normans. Majestic in its calm serenity, it remains, as Leigh Hunt used to say, "a place to receive monarchs in."



There are no myths or legends connected with the building of London's great fortress, the clear light of history beats upon the erection of its walls. It was built by William the Conquerer, not as a protection for the city, but as a proof of his dominating power over the subdued but possibly troublesome citizens. Part of the Roman wall which encircled the city was removed, and the tower rose into being upon the easternmost corner of Saxon London, right on the shore of the River Thames, the great highway from the sea. Various additions were made by succeeding monarchs down to Edward III., until it assumed the shape we now see it, with the solid Norman keep in the centre, an inner wall with twelve towers, protected by a strong outer wall surrounded by a deep moat. Only four gateways gave entrance to the fortress, and those were strongly guarded [pg 20] by towers. Any enemy attempting to enter from Tower Hill had to force his way across three branches of the moat, with three successive towers before he could reach the inner wall of the citadel. There were three gateways from the river, a small postern gate for the use of State visitors, the main water gate, which earned the ominous title of Traitor's Gate, due to the frequent arrival of State prisoners, and another entrance east of the Traitor's Gate.

The Keep, or White Tower.

Owing to its immense strength it was more commonly used by the Kings during times of civil war, when from behind its bastioned walls they could bid defiance to the surging mobs outside. John, Edward II., Henry VI., and Edward IV. all retreated there for safety during their troublous reigns, but it is with Richard II., the boy-King, that we associate one of the most dangerous episodes in the eventful life of the city. One midsummer day in 1381 a frenzied mob of countrymen swarmed on Tower Hill, demanding, with no uncertain voice, a redress of grievances. Within the Tower there was great hesitation, the councillors of fifteen-year-old Richard vacillating between a sally with force upon the ill-armed peasants and a granting of their just demands. With something of the insistence of the market-women of Paris when they swarmed up to the gates of Versailles, the savage crowd gained admittance into the Tower, searching for their supposed enemy, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as the chief lawyer in England, represented the men who enslaved and starved them. Seizing the poor old man, they dragged him out to Tower Hill, and, with their summary judgment, cut off his head then and there. The story of how Richard saved the situation at Smithfield after the death of Wat Tyler is well known.

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Nothing now remains of the palace where the Plantagenet Kings held their Court. It was situated between the White Tower and the Wakefield and Lanthorn Towers. Scarcely used after the reign of Henry VII., save for three days previous to the Coronation procession through the city, it was completely demolished in the reign of William and Mary, every fragment being removed.

The most romantic as well as the most pathetic incidents in the history of the Tower are connected with its forlorn prisoners, doomed to long incarceration or speedy death at the will of despotic monarchs. Even the sovereigns themselves were often captives within its walls. The two young Princes, Edward V. and his brother Richard, entered the Tower under the nominal protection of their uncle Richard III., never to appear again. Anne Boleyn returned as a prisoner to the place which she had formerly entered in triumph just before her Coronation. Retaining her gay spirit to the end, Anne laughingly remarked that she had a little neck, when told that death by execution was quite painless. During the reign of her sister Mary, Queen Elizabeth was brought through the Traitor's Gate to the Tower, where she was confined for some time under suspicion [pg 22] of being implicated in Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion.

Though ceasing to be a royal palace, and of little use as a fortress, the Tower retained its position as a State prison until 1820, becoming since then merely a barracks and a guard-house for the Crown jewels.



No royal house has more completely vanished from sight, and even from memory, than the royal palace of Kennington. Few know that such a palace ever existed, and certainly those who dwell upon its site would require to be possessed of keen imaginations, to realize that once all the pageantry of a medieval Court took place, where to-day monotonous streets crowd upon one another. Yet Parliaments assembled and all the ceremonies of State were performed on a spot not far from where Kennington Park now stands. The whim of royal fancy was the cause of the complete obliteration of the palace, other royal houses pleasing the later Kings more than the one upon Lambeth Marsh. Low-lying ground, only redeemed from complete marshland by the embankment of the river, lay between it and the City of London on the north. As it was not until quite the end of the eighteenth century that houses began to be built upon this district, the land being up till then used as market-gardens, it is not surprising that when the palace was destroyed it soon passed from men's minds, no one living in the neighbourhood. The exact date of the destruction of the palace is not known, but [pg 23] its oblivion was almost complete when Camden, the great antiquarian, wrote in 1607, for he says: "The Royal seat call'd Kennington, whither the Kings of England us'd to retire, the discovery whereof 'tis vain to endeavour after, there appearing neither name nor rubbish to direct us."

Though no vestige of the palace now remains, it is reasonable to conjecture, from the analogy of contemporary palaces which still exist, that Kennington Palace was a fortified building, with a strongly embattled wall and deep moat. Deserted by Henry VIII., who found Eltham and Greenwich more to his taste, the building materials were all sold and the palace razed to the ground. Some kind of Tudor manor-house was built upon the site, for a survey taken about the middle of the seventeenth century describes a building of some fair size. Close to it stood a low stone structure with a thatched roof, known as the "Long Barn," which was thought to be part of the old palace. It stood until 1795, when it was pulled down, removing the last trace of historic interest.

As one loses oneself among the maze of houses and streets of Kennington, it is difficult to believe that in the lost palace which rose above the marsh of long ago Harold Harefoot, the son of Cnut, was crowned, Harthacnut, his brother, died either by treachery or accident, and Henry III. held two Parliaments. But of all the Kings whose memory should haunt the spot, the most to be remembered is Richard II., the handsome, popular, pleasure-loving and magnificent Prince. After the early death of his father, the Black Prince, young Richard had been brought up in the palace by his widowed mother.

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In later years Richard brought his child-wife, the fair Isabella of France, to Kennington Palace, to rest there for the night before she entered London in state. She was then only eight years old, and was never anything more than Queen in name, for long before she was old enough to be a wife her attractive but unwise husband had been murdered by his enemies.



To realize that Eltham was one of the most stately of royal residences one has only to stand within the magnificent hall erected by Edward IV. Though neglected for many years and allowed to fall into decay, it is still a marvellous relic of medieval splendour, at the time when Perpendicular architecture was beautifying the land. The fine oak roof, with its hammer beams and carved pendants, is almost as perfect as when it was first put up, but unfortunately the beautiful tracery of the windows has suffered from being bricked up during the period of neglect. The whole hall, however, has lately undergone a thorough restoration, and the windows have been glazed, so that it is likely to remain for many centuries to come a noble witness of the dignified surroundings of the Plantagenet Kings.


Erected by Cardinal Wolsey and afterwards presented by him to Henry VIII. Sir Christopher Wren
reconstructed a part of the palace for William III. and Queen Mary.

The old stone bridge, with its buttressed arches, built at the same time as the hall, still stands over the moat, which at one time ran all round the palace. Standing on the bridge, across which must have trod Edward IV., its builder, Henry VIII. in his buoyant youth, Cardinal Wolsey in the early days of his greatness, and Queen [pg 25] Elizabeth when visiting the palace to meet her Scottish suitor the Earl of Arran, one looks down to-day upon smooth green water, overshadowed by willows and sycamores, and edged with smooth-shaven grass borders, with a glimpse of a rose-filled garden.

The Banqueting Hall, Eltham Palace.

For Eltham, though only eight miles from London on the Maidstone road, retains much of its rural charm. As one approaches the palace along a tree-shaded avenue between old red-brick walls, one forgets the nearness to the great city and the fact that tram-lines now run up to the quiet little High Street. There is an old-world dignity about the neighbourhood of the palace, locally known as King John's Palace, through some confusion with John of Eltham, the second son of Edward II., who [pg 26] was born there. King John himself never resided in the palace, for it was not a royal house until the reign of his son. Some charming old houses, with red-tiled roofs and overhung upper stories, standing among gardens gay with flowers, border the avenue. It is probable that Wolsey and other Lord Chancellors stayed in these houses when in attendance upon the monarch.

Eltham has never been anything but a small village amid fertile country, so that the problem of feeding the Court when resident in the palace must have been a serious one. Two thousand people to be fed daily must have absorbed the energies of all the farmers round.

In plan the palace was a quadrangular castle protected by a strong battlemented wall, surrounded by a deep moat, with a drawbridge and portcullis. Camden claims that the original palace was built by Anthony Bec, Bishop of Durham, who presented it to Eleanor, the beloved wife of Edward I.

Of its subsequent history one learns that many Kings held their Christmas festivals there, that Richard II. was extremely fond of it, spending much of his time there, that Edward IV. built the hall and bridge, and that Henry VII. also did a good deal of building, and brought up his children within its walls. Henry VIII. spent his early childhood in the palace, being visited by the learned Erasmus and Sir Thomas More. During the first years of his reign he also resided there frequently, until Greenwich rose in his royal favour. It was at Eltham that Wolsey received the office of Lord Chancellor, and also where he drew up, in 1526, the famous Eltham Ordinances for the regulation of the royal household. One finds from these ordinances that the King's guests were in the habit of stealing locks, tables, [pg 27] and other household articles, for strict rules were made concerning these fixtures, and also against the keeping of any dogs, except ladies' spaniels, within the precincts of the Court.

James I. was the last monarch to reside within the palace, his son, Charles I., bestowing it upon Sir John Shaw, who pulled down all the buildings, with the exception of the great hall. When John Evelyn visited it in 1656, he found the whole place in ruins, but in 1828 the Government was persuaded to undertake repairs in order to preserve this beautiful remnant of fifteenth-century architecture.



Greenwich Palace.

Greenwich was the sea palace of the English monarchs. It stood upon the edge of the broad and tidal River Thames, which was salt to the taste at the time when the Tudor monarchs gazed over its sparkling waters. [pg 28] From their palace windows Henry VIII. and his illustrious daughter Elizabeth watched the busy vessels passing down to the sea, laden with wool and other merchandise, to return filled with silks, and spices, and precious metals; and looked with proud satisfaction at their ships of war lying anchored close at hand at Deptford. Warships had appeared at Greenwich very early in its history, when it was a mere fishing village sheltered beneath the green slope of Blackheath. The Danes had arrived in 1009, flying their raven flag, seeking tribute money from Ethelred the ill-advised. During one of their visits, these ruthless Norsemen murdered Alphege, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by aiming beef bones, so it is said, at the good man's head.

It was from their sea palace, too, that the royal rulers watched the departure and return of two famous explorers. On a certain day in May, 1553, Sir Hugh Willoughby sailed from Deptford with his small expedition to search for a North-East passage to China. Young King Edward, already in the last stages of his wasting illness, was brought to the window to see the ships depart with their brave commander on board, who was destined never to return, being found frozen to death in his cabin in the Arctic ice. Crowds gathered along the shore, the nobles and courtiers thronged the palace windows as the ships sailed by, discharging their guns in a final salute, so that the surrounding hills echoed. Twenty-seven years later, a small weather-beaten vessel, The Golden Hind, came to anchor at Deptford after a momentous voyage round the world, in which battle and tempest had been braved, and little known lands visited. Its dauntless commander shortly after was honoured by a visit from his sovereign [pg 29] lady, Queen Elizabeth, who, forgiving his irregular deeds because of their success, knighted him upon his own deck, causing him to arise as Sir Francis Drake.

Though pre-eminently associated with the Tudor monarchs who loved their healthy royal home, which felt the sea breezes coming up the river, Greenwich had been a royal possession for many years. Henry IV. dated his will from his manor of Greenwich, while his son, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, was the real founder of the palace. Gaining permission from his nephew, Henry VI., for whom he had acted as regent during his minority, he erected a stone manor-house, calling it Placentia. Disasters fell thick upon "good Duke Humphrey," as he has been called. His wife Eleanor was accused of witchcraft, and after penance in the streets of London, was imprisoned for the remainder of her life, while he himself, falling under the displeasure of the haughty Margaret of Anjou, was arrested for high treason, dying suddenly a few days later under suspicion of poison. When it reverted to the crown, both Henry VI. and Edward IV. lived at Placentia, and Henry VII. wooed and won his Yorkist bride there, but it is to Henry VIII. that Greenwich owes its fame.

Born at Greenwich in 1491, baptized in the former parish church in a silver font "well padded with soft linen," Henry VIII. spent much of his time at his birthplace. He rebuilt the palace, erecting an unfortified dwelling, the sovereigns no longer requiring to dwell within a castle. His two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were born in the palace, their royal father, though disappointed at the non-arrival of a Prince, ordering all reverence to be paid to the infant Princesses. Queen Katharine of Aragon spent some happy years at Greenwich [pg 30] before Henry was led away by the charms of Anne Boleyn. Henry at that time seems to have been full of buoyant life and good-humour, enjoying the rough and tumble of tournaments in the park, riding out in the early morning of the First of May to bring in the blossom, and rollicking in the dances and pageants of the time. It was at one of the tournaments that Henry last saw Anne Boleyn, who was acting the part of the Queen of Beauty. Taking offence at her behaviour, the headstrong King got up suddenly and set off for London, never again seeing his unfortunate wife, who was arrested the following day and carried to the Tower.

After the time of James I., who, with his Queen, much delighted in its situation, the palace fell gradually into decay, so that Charles II. pulled it all down and started to rebuild a new one. He never lived in it, for only one wing—that which now faces the building devoted to the Museum—was ever erected, the scheme of the palace being rejected for quite another purpose. The gentle, kindly heart of Queen Mary, the beloved wife of William III., was so moved by the suffering of the wounded sailors after the Battle of La Hogue, that she determined that the neglected palace should be furnished as a hospital for those seamen "who had protected the public safety." Sir Christopher Wren furnished the design, and King William, private donors, and Parliamentary grants supplied the endowment of the hospital, whose first stone was laid on June 30, 1696. For over a century and a half invalided sailors were sheltered within the hospital, which was closed in 1869, pensions being then bestowed instead of residence. The buildings are now used as a college for naval officers.

Greenwich still retains a sea-faring aspect; on a bright [pg 31] day the river, full of laden barges and busy little tugs, still sparkles, while "the noblest of European hospitals" remains as "a memorial of the virtues of the good Queen Mary, of the love and sorrow of William, and of the great victory of La Hogue."



Of all the many palaces of the English monarchs, none is more associated in men's minds with the splendour and pageantry of Court life than the palace of Whitehall. In comparison with other palaces, such as Windsor, its life-story was very brief, just over a century and a half, but it was spent in the hey-day of royalty, when the Kings were freed from the power of the great barons, and were not yet controlled by the constitution. It is full of memories of the masterful Tudors, and the pleasure-loving Stuarts, a period stored with great and stirring happenings, just when the New World was being discovered, the New Learning flooding over Europe, and the Reformation stirring the hearts of men. Yet of all its vast size, only a tiny fragment is left—the banqueting hall of the magnificent palace designed by Inigo Jones—and not a brick or stone remains of the palace where Wolsey reigned in his episcopal glory, and Henry VIII. held his gorgeous Court.

The first house on the site of the palace belonged to Hubert de Burgh, the patriotic ruler of England during the minority of Henry III., but remembered most generally as the unwilling gaoler of young Prince [pg 32] Arthur. He bequeathed his property to the Black Friars, in whose church in Holborn he was buried. Not long afterwards the Dominicans sold the house to Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York, who left it as a London residence to his successors in the see of York. It will be remembered that after one of the serious fires that attacked the palace of Westminster, Edward I. took shelter in the Archbishop's palace at York Place, as it was then known, and continued to occupy it during the remainder of his reign.

In his capacity as Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey came into possession of York Place, which he almost entirely rebuilt. During his days of greatness Wolsey lived in the utmost magnificence in his palace, rivalling the King's Court at Westminster. Surrounded by many hundreds of courtiers, among whom were some of the noblest in the land, who did not disdain to serve "the butcher's son," Wolsey kept high state, feasting off gold and silver plate, to the accompaniment of singing and music, wearing scarlet and gold, and riding on a crimson velvet saddle, with his feet in stirrups of silver gilt. As an excuse for the undoubted ostentation of the great cardinal, Sir Walter Besant maintains that in his time "it was the right and proper use of wealth to entertain royally; it was part of a rich man to dress splendidly, to have a troop of gentlemen and valets in his service, to exhibit tables covered with gold and silver plate, to hang the walls with beautiful and costly arras. All this was right and proper." But Wolsey experienced, as so many great men have done, that

"They that stand high have many blasts to shake them,

And when they fall, they dash themselves to pieces."

After the disgrace of his great chancellor, Henry VIII. [pg 33] seized York Place, quite regardless of the fact that, as it was not the private possession of the cardinal, he had no right to do so. But it was just what the King wanted, his own palace at Westminster having been destroyed by fire a few years before. It was then that the name of Whitehall came into use, as Shakespeare reminds us in the play of Henry VIII.:

"You must no more call it York Place; that's past:

For since the Cardinal fell, that title's lost;

'Tis now the King's, and called Whitehall."

Though Whitehall for us to-day signifies but one palace, in the days of the Tudors nearly every palace had its "white hall," usually the great banqueting hall, so that the new name bestowed by Henry was not peculiarly distinctive. Henry was delighted with his new residence, and proceeded to add new buildings, and to enclose nearly all St. James's Park up to the site of Buckingham Palace. Covering a vast extent of ground, the palace rambled from Scotland Yard along the riverside, to where Downing Street now stands, and spread across the roadway by means of a long gallery. Never so beautiful as Westminster, the Whitehall of the Tudors was a mass of brick buildings, erected without any particular scheme just as occasion required, resulting, as Besant declares, in a building "without dignity and without nobility." A roadway had always existed from Charing Cross to Westminster, and not even the autocratic Henry dared divert it for the sake of his palace, so that he caused two gateways to be erected to mark the precincts of the royal domain. Both were put up about the same time, the one nearer Westminster being called the King's Gate, and the other the Holbein Gate, being designed by the famous artist, Hans Holbein. [pg 34] Across this latter gateway ran the gallery connecting the main part of the palace with the Tiltyard (now the Horse Guards Parade) and the Cockpit (where the Admiralty now stands), the tennis court, and the bowling alley, where Henry VIII. indulged his love of games; for, as Leigh Hunt cynically tells us, "though he put women to death, he was fond of manly sports." Both gateways were removed during the first half of the eighteenth century, when the road was widened.

Henry VIII. died in the palace where he had secretly married Anne Boleyn, and where he had enjoyed so many of the good things of life. It is said that he had grown so unwieldy that he had to be lifted by means of machinery. Cranmer came to see him on his deathbed, but when he arrived the King was already speechless, though still conscious. The Archbishop, after "speaking comfortably to him, desired him to give some token that he put his trust in God through Jesus Christ, therewith the King wrung hard the Archbishop's hand," and so left the earthly scene of his cruelties, his amusements, and his worldly success.

Whitehall Palace at the End of the
Seventeenth Century.

When James I. succeeded to the throne of the Tudors, he found the palace of Whitehall needing a considerable amount of repairs. The old banqueting hall that had sufficed for the needs of Elizabeth was despised by the [pg 35] new monarch, who regarded it as an "old rotten slight-builded Banqueting House." Inigo Jones, the great architect, was called upon to supply plans for an entirely new palace. His plans, the originals of which still exist, were extremely ambitious, for if they had been carried out, London would have possessed a palace rivalling Versailles, and covering an area of twenty four acres. According to his scheme, the palace was to present four imposing frontages, having square towers at the corners, and was to contain one vast central court, as well as six smaller courts. Only the stately banqueting hall of this colossal scheme was ever erected, that which remains to-day, the solitary fragment of the once extensive palace. The hall was finished in 1622, and when, three years later, Charles I. came to the throne, he was too much overwhelmed with the difficulty of obtaining sufficient money to supply his immediate needs, to entertain any ideas of carrying out the proposed palace. He contented himself with adorning the existing banqueting hall, commissioning the artist Rubens, who was in London in the capacity of Ambassador from Flanders, to paint the ceiling. For the magnificent work which we see to-day, covering the entire ceiling, representing the apotheosis of James I. the artist received £3,000 and a knighthood from King Charles.

It was outside the banqueting hall which he had so enriched, that King Charles was beheaded on January 30, 1649. Early on the cold wintry morning, escorted by a body of soldiers, Charles walked from St. James's Palace, where he had spent his last night, across the park to Whitehall. Owing to the cold he had put on two shirts, in order to prevent any shivering, which [pg 36] might, the King thought, have been put down to fear. Wearing a black cloak, and a striped red silk waistcoat, he walked rapidly, telling Bishop Juxon, who accompanied him, that he was soon going to obtain a heavenly crown. On the way he pointed out a tree in Spring Gardens, planted by his elder brother, Henry. Arrived at Whitehall, he crossed over the gallery above the Holbein Gate, and went to his own room in the palace, awaiting the order for his appearance on the scaffold, spending the time in prayer.

In spite of the great controversy on the subject of the position of the scaffold, and the manner of the King's approach to it, there seems to be every probability that the scaffold, which was erected in the open street, stood in front of the large windows of the banqueting hall. It is thought that King Charles, after walking through the hall, crowded for him with memories of his father and of his own stately and decorous court, entered into a small adjoining room, the wall having been cut through for the purpose. And it was from the window of this small room that Charles stepped upon the scaffold. At that time the windows of the banqueting hall, facing Whitehall, were not glazed.

A great crowd had assembled to witness, as Sir Thomas Herbert, the King's devoted friend, records, "the saddest sight that England ever saw." With calm dignity Charles performed the last actions of his life, asking his executioners whether his hair would hinder them, taking off his cloak, handing the "George" worn by the Knights of the Garter to Bishop Juxon, who remained by the side of his fallen monarch to the end, and then, after making a short speech declaring his innocence, kneeling down and laying his head upon the [pg 37] block. When Bishop Juxon reminded him that he had but one stage more, which would carry him from earth to heaven, the King replied: "I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown."

Directly the painful scene was over every sign of it was removed at once; soldiers dispersed the crowd, and the scaffold was immediately taken down. The King's body was embalmed, after which it was shown to the public, that there should be no doubt of his death. A week later his faithful friends carried him to his last resting-place in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. And so was cut short the life of Charles Stuart, who, had his youth been spent under wiser guidance than that of his father, might have been one of England's noblest rulers.

The Execution of Charles I., outside
Whitehall Palace.

From the painting by Ernest Crofts, R.A.

Cromwell, conscious of his own integrity and free from superstitious fears, did not hesitate to occupy the palace outside which his late monarch had been executed. Though he refused the crown offered to him in 1657, his residence in Whitehall began to assume more and more the aspect of a court, he himself gradually acquiring a dignified and stately manner, as we are assured by the contemporary royalist writer, Sir Philip Warwick. "And yet I lived to see this very gentleman," he [pg 38] writes, "when for six weeks together I was a prisoner in his sergeant's hands, and daily waited at Whitehall, appear of a great and majestic deportment and comely presence." After six years of almost autocratic power as Protector of England, during which period he had shown his capacity as a statesman, Cromwell breathed his last in the palace of his royal predecessors, relinquishing his hold upon life, in spite of his strong religious faith, with obvious reluctance. Worn out with anxieties and domestic grief, especially over the death of his much-beloved daughter, Elizabeth Claypole, the great Protector died at the age of fifty-nine, on September 3, 1658, a day which he had always accounted as peculiarly fortunate, having been the occasion of his victories at Dunbar and Worcester. A tremendous storm, one of the most violent ever known, was raging over England when Oliver Cromwell's spirit passed into the great Unknown.

On his arrival in London after his restoration, Charles II. proceeded to Whitehall, where he confirmed all the great charters of English liberty, such as Magna Carta, and the Petition of Right. Two years later, Charles brought his unhappy young bride by river in state to Whitehall, after their honeymoon at Hampton Court. Samuel Pepys watched the pageant from the top of the banqueting hall, which he describes as "a most pleasant place as any I could have got." The whole river was covered with boats and barges, "so that we could see no water for them," some boats representing the mimic court of a King and Queen, until the actual royal pair appeared, who were greeted with guns on their arrival at Whitehall Bridge.

Whitehall, so intimately connected with the Tudors, [pg 39] fell with the Stuarts. A fire, which raged furiously all one night, destroyed for ever, in 1698, the old rambling palace known to Wolsey and his royal master, leaving no fragment to remind us of its existence. Only the graceful banqueting hall escaped the general conflagration. Plans were drawn up by Sir Christopher Wren for a new palace, but William III., who, suffering from habitual asthma, found the smoke of Whitehall almost intolerable, was not likely to be anxious to restore a palace in which he could not live. As he wrote to one of his friends, "the loss is less to me than it would be to another person, for I cannot live there." But though he made little effort to rebuild the palace, being already busy at altering Hampton Court, there is no truth in the statement of his enemies, that William had partly inspired the fire.

George I. altered the banqueting-hall into a Chapel Royal, for which purpose it continued to be used until 1890, when Queen Victoria gave permission for the building to be used for the United Service Museum.



In the high tide of its popularity, Hampton Court Palace was considered the finest and most commodious palace in England, an opinion which was corroborated by the foreign ambassadors of the time, who spoke of it in terms of the highest praise. One distinguished foreign visitor, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, recorded in his diary: "This is the most splendid and most magnificent royal palace of any that may be found in England, [pg 40] or, indeed, in any other kingdom." And though to-day the tide of royal favour has receded for ever from the shores of Hampton Court, the palace remains as stately and as dignified as when the proud Wolsey paced its galleries.

Hampton Court: The First Court.

Its situation has always been a happy one, for though built on the banks of the River Thames, it has avoided all the disadvantages of damp, owing to the gravelly nature of its soil. The nearness to London, only thirteen miles away, with easy access along the broad river, made it a delightful residence for the monarchs who were able to get to and fro from London, however bad the roads might be. When wearied with the smoke and bustle that surrounded Whitehall, the royal owners rejoiced in escaping to their beautiful palace at Hampton Court, from whose windows they looked over the clean river, across fresh green meadows to the horizon of the blue Surrey hills.

Cardinal Wolsey was largely influenced by the healthy position of Hampton Court, when he bought the place from the Knights Hospitallers of St. John, who had owned it since the early part of the thirteenth century. The Cardinal, like so many other great men, had never been strong, and had taxed his strength to the uttermost by the enormous quantity of work which he undertook. Not only was he Archbishop of York, holding various [pg 41] other bishoprics, but he was Lord Chancellor of England, an office which carried with it vast legal duties, and also that of chief adviser to the King, through whom all the business of the State was carried out. No wonder he needed a quiet spot far from the busy throng, but he would have been wiser had he built a modest country house, which would not have aroused the envy of the King.

But Wolsey had a passion for building, as his work at Whitehall, his college of Christchurch, Oxford, and the school at Ipswich, witness, and he apparently could not refrain from erecting a palace, which was to excite universal admiration, and ultimately to assist in his fall from power. Though suffering from a variety of ailments, among which were ague and dropsy, Wolsey never rested, but, having bought Hampton Court in 1514, pushed on the building, so that it was finished and ready for occupation two years afterwards. No word concerning any architect has come down to us, so that we may presume that the palace was erected according to the Cardinal's own plans, and that he is responsible for the romantic charm of the Tudor work, with its clustered chimneys, gabled roofs, mullioned windows, and all the picturesque dignity of the red-brick courtyards.

No sooner had the builders evacuated, than Wolsey filled the palace with the most rich and costly furniture, magnificent tapestries, and beds upholstered in gorgeous velvet and silk, everything being adorned with the Cardinal's arms, until it quite outshone anything that the King possessed.

King Henry often honoured his "good Cardinal" with a visit, sometimes coming unexpectedly to surprise his Chancellor. The greatest banquet Wolsey ever gave [pg 42] was to the French Ambassador in 1527, when 280 beds were prepared, each room being lighted with blazing fires and candles in silver candlesticks. Music was performed all through the banquet, at which marvellous dishes appeared representing St. Paul's Church and various birds and beasts.

Though Wolsey had handed over the lease of Hampton Court to the King in 1525, when the first small cloud of royal displeasure had appeared, he continued to occupy his beautiful palace for four more years, until his final disgrace over the question of the divorce with Katharine of Aragon. King Henry took possession in 1529, and at once began building apartments for the Lady Anne Boleyn, though Queen Katharine was still with him. Four years later, after Cranmer had pronounced a divorce, the Pope still remaining obdurate, Anne Boleyn spent a gay and brilliant honeymoon within the Cardinal's palace, recking little that the fickle King who had thrown off a faithful servant and a devoted wife for her sake, was to condemn her within a few years to a cruel death.

Hampton Court remained Henry's favourite palace, for he was proof against any sad memories of past wives, while he was enjoying the company of another. Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife, whom he married the day after Anne Boleyn was executed, gave birth to Henry's only son, Edward, within the palace, the young Prince being received with great rejoicings, which were cut short by the death of his mother a few days afterwards. Catharine Howard and Catharine Parr were both married at Hampton Court, and Anne of Cleves also spent a short time there, so that the palace is associated with all the wives of Henry VIII.

[pg 43]

As a builder, King Henry is responsible for the Great Hall, on the north side of the Clock Court, a fine Perpendicular building, with a rich ceiling and large bay window.

Even when, in his later years, he could no longer enjoy his favourite sports of hunting, archery, tennis, and fishing, owing to his increasing corpulence, Henry retained his love for the Cardinal's palace, and was often there amusing himself with games of backgammon and dice, and playing on the lute, having been always fond of music.

Queen Mary, Henry's eldest daughter, spent her gloomy honeymoon at the palace, none of her English subjects welcoming her marriage with Philip II. of Spain. Philip, though outwardly devoted, was not much in love with his plain and unattractive wife, who seems to have lost all joyousness during the years of her retirement following the divorce of her mother. Deep melancholy and despair settled down upon the unfortunate Queen, when her hopes of an heir to carry on her work of restoring the Roman Catholic religion in England were denied, and she knew that her Protestant sister must succeed.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth no very important events occurred, for though the Queen constantly visited the palace, she came for periods of rest and amusement, away from all political cares. When her successor came to Hampton Court, he was delighted with it, as he was with most of the English royal palaces, which were so much more rich and luxurious than those of Holyrood or Falkland. The park allowed him opportunity for his much-loved occupation of hunting, when, his ungainly figure clad in a vivid [pg 44] green hunting suit, he would follow the stag with great keenness. But, enthusiastic as he was, he much disliked any crowds assembling at the royal meets, thinking that they worried the hounds and spoilt the game, and so he issued peevish proclamations against "the bold and barbarous insolency of multitudes of vulgar people," who, if they followed the hunt at all were to be conveyed to the nearest gaol.

The favourite indoor entertainment at this time was the masque, which reached the height of its popularity and glory during James's reign. Ben Jonson, the greatest poet, and Inigo Jones, the greatest architect of the day, were employed as author and designer of these stately dramatic performances, in which the nobles and ladies of the Court took part, before an audience representing the highest in the land.

But King James could not spend all his time watching gods and goddesses upon the stage, or hunting the deer in his park, for the question of religious toleration had to be decided. A conference was held in January, 1604, at the palace, between the Puritan clergy and the bishops, on the question of some lesser ecclesiastical reforms involving no change in the organization of the Church. James delighted in presiding at the conference, as it gave him an opportunity of showing forth his scholastic accomplishments, which were real, though extremely pedantic. No settlement was arrived at, for James, after his experience under the Presbyterians in Scotland, delighted in the Church of England with its subservience to royal authority. King James thought he had crushed the Puritans with his arguments, but he had only left them certain that all concessions would have to be wrested from the King [pg 45] by force, resulting in the deadly struggle of his son's reign.

Though Charles I. grew to be devotedly attached to his French bride, Henrietta Maria, he had some unfortunate disagreements with her during the early months of his married life, which he spent at Hampton Court. Owing partly to the interference of the Duke of Buckingham, Charles's unwise favourite, and to the young bride's extreme youth and lack of tact, there were constant quarrels between the royal pair. Henrietta Maria's large train of French followers were extremely unpopular among the English, owing to their religious beliefs, and the Queen herself was ill-advised enough to refuse to take part in the coronation ceremonies, as they were performed by Protestant clergy. At last Charles grew so annoyed that he dismissed all the French suite in a high-handed manner, and sent them back to France. Though the Queen never became popular among the Puritans, who attributed much of the King's stubbornness to her suggestion, yet she and her royal husband learned to live together in great domestic bliss.

The first hint of the gathering storm was made evident to the King when the Commons brought down to the palace their Grand Remonstrance, a document in which they had recorded, in unqualified language, all the King's misdeeds. Charles retaliated by the fatal error of attempting to arrest five members of the Commons; after the failure of which he retired from London to Hampton Court—the last time (except for one night) that he visited it as a free man. In the summer of 1647, when his armies had all been crushed and dispersed, he came to the palace once more, but [pg 46] this time as a prisoner. He was still treated with great respect and allowed considerable liberty, visiting his children at Sion House, and having them visit him. Unhappily Charles determined to escape, and was so far successful that he succeeded in slipping from the palace, crossing the river, and reaching the Isle of Wight. But there his success ended, for he was obliged to give himself up as a prisoner to the governor of the island, to be treated afterwards with increasing severity.

Cromwell's soldiers are credited with effecting considerable damage to historic buildings, but we are indebted to the Protector for the saving of Hampton Court Palace. It had already been sold to various purchasers, when Cromwell became Lord Protector and the Parliament, knowing his liking for the palace, at once set to work to repurchase it. The Protector and his family soon after took up their residence there, provoking the mocking laughter of royalists, either for the regal state which Cromwell maintained, or the homeliness of his wife. It is strange to remember, that along with all his austerity of character Cromwell used to indulge, in his lighter moments, in great buffoonery, putting sticky sweetmeats on to the chairs on which the ladies were to sit, slipping live coals into his officers' coat pockets, or throwing wine about.

Hampton Court had often served as a honeymoon palace, but the young brides had seldom been very happy, unless, perhaps, Anne Boleyn had managed to be care-free during her short reign. Certainly Queen Mary and Henrietta Maria had been far from happy, but the insignificant little Portuguese wife of Charles II. was the unhappiest of all. Her husband did not love her, and she succeeded in annoying him by persisting [pg 47] in wearing her Portuguese style of dress, which seemed grotesque to English eyes. When she gave in on this point, she was ordered to receive Lady Castlemaine, one of the King's favourites, as a lady of her bedchamber, an indignity which she was justified in refusing. But Charles's open rudeness, and studied indifference to his wife, at last forced poor Catharine of Braganza to accept the notorious lady, after which the King treated her with respect, though never with love.

When William III. first saw Hampton Court, he was enchanted with it, it reminded him of his beloved Holland, and besides, the air was free from smoke, so that his asthmatical frame could breathe easily. He at once began to set about rebuilding and altering the palace, and laying out the gardens in the formal Dutch fashion. Sir Christopher Wren was entrusted with the new work, creating the stately east and south fronts, and the Fountain Court that we see to-day. The architect had to join on the Renaissance style of architecture in vogue at that time, to the late Perpendicular of the original builders, and by adhering to red-brick with stone facings and copings, he made a combination which is both restful and dignified. Queen Mary took an intense interest in the new building which she was never destined to see finished, her early death causing King William to lose all pleasure in the palace, which they had both loved. For some years work almost ceased on the new building, until the disastrous fire at Whitehall rendered it necessary for the King to have another palace. Work was then hurried on, Grinling Gibbons working at the interior carving, Verrio painting the ceilings and staircases, gardeners laying out the avenues and maze, till all was [pg 48] ready for the King in the winter of 1699. Little more than two years later, William, who had been very ill for some time, was riding in the park, when his horse stumbled on a mole-hill, throwing his royal master on to the ground. When the doctor examined him, King William was found to have broken his collar-bone, which was immediately set. In spite of the remonstrances of the doctor, the King insisted upon returning to Kensington, where he rapidly became worse, the jolting of the roads having shifted the bone, which had to be reset. A fortnight later he died.

The succeeding monarchs did little to the palace, though the first two Hanoverian Kings occasionally resided there. George III., whose partiality for Windsor and Kew caused him to neglect all the other palaces, never visited Hampton Court after he became King, so that it was gradually left to various private families, who were granted apartments by the royal bounty. When Queen Victoria came to the throne the palace was made open to the public, who have much appreciated the privilege of seeing one of the most beautiful royal residences ever erected in England.



The old red-brick palace which stands at the foot of St. James's Street, looking up towards the busy throng of Piccadilly, still gives the diplomatic title to the Court of Great Britain, though it has long been neglected by royalty. It stands serene amid the traffic of Pall Mall, having gained with the passing of ages some of that [pg 49] dignity with which it was said to be lacking in the eighteenth century, when Sir John Fielding wrote "it reflects no honour on the kingdom, and is the jest of foreigners." Certainly less romantic in its history than Westminster or Whitehall, it yet remains to-day a Tudor palace, while its more picturesque rivals have crumbled away.

Long before the palace was erected, a small hospital stood upon its site, its inmates being fourteen chaste maidens, victims of the deadly malady of leprosy. The position had been chosen carefully, owing to its extreme loneliness, it being then completely surrounded by fields. In course of time eight brothers had been added to the hospital, which was known as St. James the Less, and the whole property had been granted by Henry VI. to his new foundation, Eton College. When Henry VIII. took possession of Wolsey's palace in Whitehall, he purchased the hospital and all the green fields round it, in order to obtain a park for his new residence. One is glad to learn that the unfortunate leprous maidens were pensioned off for the rest of their lives.

King Henry immediately set to work to build a sort of country manor-house for himself, surrounding the park with a brick wall, and at the same time draining it, for originally it was a somewhat dreary marsh. It is said that Holbein, the artist, drew up the plans for the palace, which were carried out by Thomas Cromwell, Wolsey's secretary, who rose in Henry's favour upon his master's fall. But whoever was the architect, the palace is essentially Tudor, and remains so in spite of the various additions made by the later monarchs. The gatehouse, with its four octagon towers and its clock, is the most familiar feature of the palace. Unfortunately, [pg 50] from a sentimental point of view, the clock is a new one; an older one, bearing the date 1731, was removed in 1831, and is now at Hampton Court Palace. Perhaps the most interesting part of the interior is the Old Presence Chamber, now known as the Tapestry Room, from the fine tapestry representing Venus and Mars, which had been made for Charles I., but had been put away in a chest and apparently forgotten, till it was discovered and hung up for the wedding of George IV. The stone Tudor fireplace in this room bears the initials H. and A. for Henry and Anne Boleyn, united most inappropriately, considering their later history, by a true lover's knot.

The Gate Tower of St. James's Palace.

In spite of Henry's early enthusiasm, he was not often at the palace, which, indeed, was seldom used for any length of time, till after the fire at Whitehall, and even then Kensington Palace was preferred. It was more usually occupied by the heir to the throne, or some of the younger members of the royal family. Unhappy Queen Mary, soured by her early misfortunes, neglected by her husband, and despairing of the restoration of her Church, died after a weary illness on November 17, 1558, in the palace which she had always [pg 51] loved. Her successors did not reside there, Queen Elizabeth only coming for brief periods, and James I. giving it to his son, Prince Henry, who died there of a malignant fever, imputed, as was customary at that time, to poison.

On the death of his brother, Charles I., as Prince of Wales, took up his residence in St. James's Palace, spending the early years of his married life there, most of his children being born within its walls. Associated with the hopeful time of his young manhood, the palace also recalls his last days upon earth, before the final scene at Whitehall. Arriving on January 19, 1649, Charles spent the remainder of his life there, with the exception of the few days of his trial when he was lodged in the precincts of the old palace of Westminster. However much we may denounce the method by which Charles attempted to govern his kingdom, we can accord him nothing but a respectful and sympathetic admiration for the manner in which he passed to his death. He was still a young and vigorous man, to whom life must have held much that was good, and yet he left it with no whinings at fate, but with a calm dignity and full of trust in God. The day before his execution his two young children, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Gloucester, came to say farewell. Holding the little Princess in his arms, he told her she must not grieve for him, for he was going to die a glorious death, "for the laws and religion of the land." With the Duke of Gloucester on his knee, the father told the children to love and obey their mother, and then looking sadly at his little daughter he said, "But, sweetheart, thou wilt forget what I tell thee." The child promised to write down what he had told her, and then, after they had [pg 52] received some jewels and a last kiss from their royal father, they were led away by Bishop Juxon.

Waking early on the fateful morning, the King roused his faithful attendant, Sir Thomas Herbert, saying that he would get up, "having a great work to do this day." Bishop Juxon came and administered the Sacrament, after which Charles was persuaded to take a little food, as the day was so bitterly cold. A few hours later the dread sentence had been fulfilled; but St. James's Palace was to witness one more scene, for the body was brought back on February 1, remaining there for many people to see it. A story, unsupported by evidence, though we would gladly give it credence, runs that a man, hidden in a cloak, visited the coffin, and as he walked round it was heard to mutter, "Dreadful necessity"—the man being said to be Oliver Cromwell.

After the Restoration, Charles II. did not reside in the palace, but lent it to his brother, the Duke of York, afterwards James II., who maintained a lesser Court there, while remaining in perfect amity with his royal brother. King Charles took a tremendous interest in the park, which he altered under the superintendance of Le Nôtre, the famous French gardener, changing it from mere rural simplicity into long straight avenues, and confining the water of various ponds into one formal canal. Bird-cage Walk owes its name to the aviary which was created at this time in part of the park. Much of the popularity which the Merry Monarch enjoyed was the way in which he wandered about among the public, unattended by the courtiers. He was often to be seen walking about with his dogs in the park, which had been made public eight years after he had come to the throne. James, [pg 53] Duke of York, once ventured to suggest greater caution, but Charles, with sly humour, replied: "Brother James, take care of yourself, for no one would kill me to make you King!"

On his accession, James II. left St. James's for Whitehall, though his Queen much preferred the palace in which she had lived as the Duchess of York. His only son, the unfortunate Old Pretender, was born in St. James's in a room whose proximity to some back stairs allowed ground for the absurd belief that the child was smuggled into the palace in a warming pan. Bitter disappointment at the prospect of the continuance of the Roman Catholic dynasty was responsible for the story.

From this time St. James's was never very popular. When William of Orange had driven away his father-in-law, he allowed the Princess Anne to reside in the palace, he himself retiring to Kensington, which he built for his own use. The succeeding monarchs all delighted in the rural charms of Kensington, and only came to St. James's when State ceremonies rendered their presence absolutely necessary.

Since the fire in 1809, which destroyed a very picturesque part of the palace, no monarch has resided there, though the proclamation of the succession to the throne is still announced from the balcony leading from the Tapestry Room.



When William III., "a great man in a little crazy body" as Leigh Hunt calls him, found that he could not stand the smoky atmosphere of Whitehall, he [pg 54] looked about for a place sufficiently near London for him to be near his Ministers, and yet should be rural enough to have clear fresh air. He found this spot in the village of Kensington, where he bought a suburban mansion, formerly the residence of the Earls of Nottingham. Here he at once began building, and laying out gardens in the formal Dutch fashion, employing Sir Christopher Wren to make the alterations to the house. While the King was in Ireland fighting against his father-in-law, James II., Queen Mary superintended the work, writing to her absent husband of the slow progress the builders were making, and how "the place made me think how happy I was there when I had your dear company." A road was specially constructed through Hyde Park, gravelled and lighted with lamps, for the convenience of the officers of State, who were obliged to visit the monarch in his country retreat.

Queen Mary did not long enjoy the pleasures of Kensington Palace, for in the winter of 1694, an epidemic of smallpox, which was raging in the neighbourhood, crept through the palace gates, and attacked the young Queen. Immediately she knew the terrible nature of her fate, the Queen, with her usual kind consideration, directed that all her ladies and servants who had not had smallpox should hurry from the palace, while she herself, having put everything in order, calmly prepared for death. King William could scarcely be persuaded to leave his beloved wife, even to lie down at night upon the camp bed arranged for him in the ante-chamber. Tears ran down the stern face which was seldom allowed to betray any emotion, and in the end, just before Queen Mary died, he was carried away from her bedside fainting. As he said to Bishop [pg 55] Burnet, "I was the happiest man on earth; and I am the most miserable. She had no fault; none: you knew her well: but you could not know, nobody but myself could know her goodness."

Eight years later, King William himself expired in the same palace, a man still in the prime of life, but worn out with illness and hard work to which his vigorous intellect had driven him. He was already far from well when he was thrown from his horse while riding in Hampton Court Park, and broke his collar bone. The bone was set at once, after which the King insisted upon returning to Kensington, against the advice of his doctors. Upon arriving at the palace it was found that the bone required resetting owing to the jolting caused by the bad roads. The King lingered for a fortnight, busy all the time arranging a coalition to curb the power of France, but on March 8 it was seen that he was sinking. Macaulay tells us that "when his remains were laid out it was found that he wore next to his skin a small piece of black silk riband. The lords-in-waiting ordered it to be taken off. It contained a gold ring and a lock of the hair of Mary."

Finding herself saddled with a debt of £4,000 still unpaid for the building alterations of her predecessor, Queen Anne contented herself with improving the gardens, leaving the palace untouched. But she added one architectural feature, the beautiful orangery designed by Sir Christopher Wren, standing near the north-east of the palace, a building famous for the beauty of its proportions and the delicacy of its detail. At one time it was much neglected and even ran the danger of being pulled down, but was happily preserved and carefully restored in 1898. The "dull woman with a dull [pg 56] husband," as Leigh Hunt bluntly summarizes Queen Anne and Prince George of Denmark, both died in the palace to which they were much attached, Prince George dying in 1708, six years before his wife.

Always a lethargic and weak-minded woman, Queen Anne's pleasures lay in eating and drinking, for she cared nothing for music or books, and would sit in silence for a long time among her friends. It was natural that such a woman should be ruled by the strong, imperious will of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who for many years completely influenced the Queen. She, however, presumed too much upon this influence till a breach was effected, never to be healed. The last famous interview between the one-time friends took place in Kensington Palace. The Duchess had written asking for an interview at which she should merely state her case, the Queen not requiring to answer at all. This the stolid Queen obeyed to the letter, for not a word could the furious Duchess extract beyond "You desired no answer and you shall have none."

A Courtyard of Kensington Palace.

Under the first Hanoverian King, who never was [pg 57] able to speak the language of his new subjects, the Court at Kensington was extremely dull. But as George I. liked the quietness of the palace, he erected a new suite of rooms, and employed William Kent as the architect. To Kent we are indebted for the monotonous drab frontage which faces the Round Pond.

The last monarch to reside and to die in the palace was George II., the "petty German autocrat" who scorned England and delighted in snubbing his English courtiers, declaring, according to Lord Hervey, that no Englishman knew how to enter a room, nor any Englishwoman how to dress, nor English cooks how to prepare a dinner, nor English coachman how to drive, nor, indeed, were there any English horses fit to ride or drive. Queen Caroline, his much-enduring wife, devoted herself to the planning out of the gardens, which she laid out practically as we now see them. Uniting a collection of ponds she created the Serpentine, and was also responsible for the Round Pond and the Broad Walk.

George III. did not care for Kensington, much preferring his beloved Windsor, so that the palace became somewhat neglected, being only used by various members of the Royal Family. The Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III., came to live there shortly after his marriage, the Princess Victoria being born on May 24, 1819, in the room which now bears a brass plate commemorating the fact. At the time of her birth there seemed small likelihood of the little Princess ever reaching the Throne, but her royal uncles having no children, it soon became obvious that she was the heir to the Throne of England. She herself, being brought up with scrupulous care by her widowed [pg 58] mother, did not know of her great future till the death of George III. The residents of Kensington soon became familiar with the sight of little Princess Victoria driving about in a donkey carriage or in a tiny chaise drawn by small ponies.

A few weeks after her eighteenth birthday, the Princess was awakened out of her sleep very early on a bright June morning. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain had arrived at the palace, and their business could not wait. "We have come to see the Queen on business of state, and even the Queen's sleep must give way to that." Hastily putting on a dressing gown and slippers, the young girl went down, to be told by the Archbishop that her uncle and King was dead, and that she was now the Queen of a vast inheritance. Later on that same morning her first council was held in the palace, the scene depicted by Wilkie in his well-known picture. The young Queen was very dignified and self-possessed, turning to Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, when doubtful as to what she should do, but showing all through the trying ordeal a gentle sweetness that won upon all the lords present. She read her speech "in a clear, distinct, and audible voice, and without any appearance of fear or embarrassment," after which all the privy councillors came to kiss her hand and swear allegiance. When her uncle, the old Duke of Sussex, who was very infirm, came forward to kneel before her, she left her chair and came towards him, kissing him on the forehead. On July 13, the girl-Queen left the home of her childhood for Buckingham Palace.

Members of the Royal Family continued to occupy various apartments in the palace, the Duchess of Kent [pg 59] residing there till her death in 1861. Queen Mary was born there, her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Teck, living there for a short time.

After some years it was found that the palace was in a very bad state of repair, every part of the building wanting attention. So extensive was the dilapidation, that the question of pulling down the palace was seriously considered. Fortunately, however, the historic place was saved by Queen Victoria, who was anxious to preserve her old home. It was finally decided as a memorial of the Diamond Jubilee, to repair the building thoroughly, and to throw open the State Rooms to the public. The restoration was carried out most carefully, everything being saved that was possible; pictures were brought from Hampton Court, and the whole palace rendered much as it was in the days of its glory. At the present time it is serving as the temporary home of the London Museum.



Kew first became a royal residence in the reign of George II., when it was leased from its private owners and used as a country seat by Frederick, Prince of Wales. Owing to his undutiful behaviour to his father, the Prince was banished from Court, when he retired to Kew, forming a sort of opposition Court there. But the actual red-brick Jacobean house, now known as Kew Palace, was then only called the Dutch House, after its original founder, Sir Hugh Portman, who was a Dutch merchant in the time of James I. It stood quite close to the more important building of Kew House, and [pg 60] was as constantly occupied by members of the Royal Family as the larger adjacent palace.

The Dutch House, or Kew Palace as it is now designated, is thoroughly typical of its period—a simple, three gabled, and dignified looking building, unpalatial indeed, but quite befitting the position of the wealthy knight who built it. The interior has been altered to suit the tastes of the royal inmates, who inserted marble fireplaces, and put in new doors, but a good deal of the original Jacobean panelling still remains. On the brass locks of the doors are to be seen the Prince of Wales's feathers, and the cypher of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

Kew Palace (the Dutch House) and George III.'s
Castellated Palace, pulled down by George IV.

George III. spent a great part of his youth at Kew, living there with his mother, the widowed Princess of Wales. He was brought up in strict retirement, his mother regulating his life and restricting his intercourse with the outer world. Strangely enough, when he succeeded to the throne of his grandfather, George III. did not revolt from the ordered régime of the early days, but maintained the same careful regularity all his life. He continued to love Kew, where he and his devoted but prosaic Queen spent several months of every year. Buying the two houses from the lease-holders, Queen Charlotte turned the Dutch House into [pg 61] a royal nursery, where her large family was brought up. Both she and the King delighted in getting away to Kew, where no kind of royal state was kept up, and where they could live the ordinary life of quiet country gentlefolk, the only life for which they were really suited. Once a week the public were admitted into the gardens, and allowed the privilege of seeing the King and Queen and the royal children en famille, talking to their friends, and walking about in their private gardens. The little riverside village of Kew became quite gay, and its inhabitants were much loved by Queen Charlotte for the spontaneous enthusiasm with which they welcomed King George, after his attempted assassination by the mad woman, Margaret Nicholson.

In order to erect a flamboyant palace, Kew House was pulled down by royal command in 1802, and a new "castellated structure of carpenters' Gothic" put up under the direction of Wyatt, the architect who was responsible for the alterations and repairs of Windsor Castle. Fortunately it was never finished, owing to the poor King's illness, and it has been said that George IV. never did a better deed in his life than when he demolished the ridiculous palace perpetrated by his father. While the building was in progress the Royal Family moved into the Dutch House.

During one of the King's periodic attacks of madness in 1789, he was confined to the Dutch House, under the charge of two doctors, and when he walked in the gardens everyone was supposed to keep out of his way. But one day, Miss Fanny Burney, then in attendance on Queen Charlotte, was walking in the gardens, having learnt that the King was to go to Richmond. To her utter dismay she came quite suddenly upon the King, [pg 62] who called out to her, "Miss Burney!" She instantly ran off, not knowing the state in which he might be, and was horrified to find herself pursued by the poor King, who chased her hotly while she in vain sought to elude him. At last, hearing from the shouts of the doctors that she must stop as it was bad for the King to run, she waited till the King came up, who accosted her with, "Why did you run away from me?" With a great effort the shy little authoress controlled herself, and, finding that the King was quite peaceful, she had a long conversation with him, during which her royal master confided in her some of his troubles.

After the King's madness had become permanent he spent the last years of his unhappy life at Windsor, but Queen Charlotte still resided for long periods at Kew, where she died in November, 1818, at the age of seventy-five. Earlier in the same year, three royal weddings had taken place within the old house, for the question of the succession had become pressing. Though Queen Charlotte had had fifteen children, she had no living grandchildren, for the Princess Charlotte, the only child of George IV. had just died. The drawing-room was fitted up with a temporary altar, and on the same day the Duke of Clarence (afterwards William IV.) was married to Adelaide, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, and the Duke of Kent to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg. A few weeks before, the Duke of Cambridge had also been married in the palace.

Suffering, like Kensington Palace, from lack of royal favour and general neglect during the latter part of the nineteenth century, it was restored in 1898 and opened to the public by the wish of Queen Victoria, as a commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee.

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Buckingham Palace, the London residence of the monarch, is the most familiar of all the royal palaces to the general British public, in so far as everyone, sooner or later, migrates to London. Unfortunately the spectator sees only a somewhat depressing and stereotyped building, lacking the majestic proportions of Windsor and the stately beauty of Hampton Court, representing, indeed, the very lowest ebb of English architecture. Yet, in spite of its uninspiring exterior, it is full of interest, for present-day life throbs within its walls, the nation's history is bound up with it, and it pulsates with memories of the Queen who won the hearts of her people as a young girl and kept them all through her long and honoured life. As a palace, its life-story is just beginning; three sovereigns only, excluding our present King, have lived within it.

Buckingham Palace, from the Lake in
St. James's Park.

In the days of James I. the site of the palace was occupied by a plantation of mulberry-trees, a royal investment, the King believing that the cultivation of silkworms would be lucrative both for himself and the nation. In this he was disappointed, but the Mulberry Gardens remained as a place of amusement for the [pg 64] public until 1675. Both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn mention visiting the gardens, to which the fashion of the Restoration resorted to eat mulberry tarts.

When the Mulberry Gardens were first instituted, a keeper had been appointed by the King, and the office continued long after the work had become a sinecure. The keeper's official residence became known as Goring House, when Lord Goring purchased it in 1632. On the death of Lord Goring, Henry Bennet, Lord Arlington, bought the mansion, and later on succeeded in adding to his property the famous gardens, when they were closed to the public. According to John Evelyn, Lord Arlington filled his house with the most rich and handsome furniture, all of which perished in a disastrous fire which broke out in 1674. The house was rebuilt, receiving the new name of Arlington House, and was afterwards sold to John Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire.

Not content with the building of the former owner, the Duke pulled down Arlington House and erected the immediate predecessor of the present palace, calling it after himself—Buckingham House. It was apparently a dignified-looking mansion, much admired in its time, having a flat roof adorned with statues, and large gilded letters making Rus in Urbe.

Soon after he came to the Throne, George III. bought Buckingham House from the Duke of Buckinghamshire's successor, and some years later altered it to suit his convenience, at the same time spoiling the general outline of the building. But King George and Queen Charlotte liked the house where most of their children were born, and carried on there the same placid domestic [pg 65] life that they led at Windsor and at Kew. The children were brought up most severely, the Queen even carrying out the whipping herself, but the success of the system was not obvious, considering the later life of the young Princes. Though King George's simplicity is much laughed at, the nation owes something to his foresight and intelligence, in collecting a large library in his London house. For many years he spent £2,000 a year upon books, until he amassed the splendid collection now known as the King's library in the British Museum, George IV. having presented it to the nation. It was in this library that Dr. Johnson had his famous interview with the King, whom he described as the finest gentleman he had ever seen. Dr. Johnson was a friend of the royal librarian who informed the King of the presence of the great lexicographer, whom King George wished to see. The conversation, as related by Boswell, seems to have been about books and libraries, and Johnson's own literary work, upon which the King complimented him.

George IV. never lived in the palace, for on his accession he ordered the old house to be razed and a new palace built. But as he was at the same time rebuilding Windsor Castle, he did not venture to ask Parliament for more money than necessary repairs, and told Nash, his architect, to build upon the old lines. This Nash proceeded to do without any models or drawings, with the result that he himself was surprised with the effect when the building was finished. So great was the universal scorn for the outspreading wings of the palace, that they were taken down at once. A cynical verse expressed the public's opinion of the architect:

[pg 66]

"Augustus at Rome was for building renown'd,

For of marble he left what of brick he had found;

But is not our Nash, too, a very great master?

He finds us all brick and he leaves us all plaster."

The gateway to the palace was designed from Constantine's Arch in Rome, and was intended to carry an equestrian statue of George IV. upon the top. This gateway, the Marble Arch, now stands at the Oxford Street entrance to Hyde Park, having been moved there in 1851.

After the builders had left the much-criticized palace, it was left empty and bare, until Queen Victoria came to the Throne, when the girl-Queen soon made the lifeless palace full of animation and happiness. All through her long reign Buckingham Palace is intimately associated with her, from her Coronation Day, that June morning when all London welcomed her with enthusiasm, down to the Diamond Jubilee, when the aged Queen could say, "From my heart I thank my beloved people." It was from the palace that she set out on a cheerless February morning to her wedding in Westminster Abbey, and a great part of her happy married life was spent there, when in company with her beloved husband she held a brilliant Court. Two fancy dress balls were held, one where all the noblest and most distinguished in England came arrayed in the dress of the Plantagenets, and the other where all appeared in Georgian costumes.

The marriage of the Princess Royal to the Crown Prince of Germany took place from Buckingham Palace. Though a highly approved love-match, it caused considerable grief to the royal household, the Queen finding it extremely difficult to part with her eldest [pg 67] daughter. The Queen wrote of it as "the second most eventful day" in her life, and after the young pair had set off for their new home in Germany, she said, "My tears began to flow afresh frequently, and I could not go near Vicky's corridor."

The public will not soon forget the momentous events associated with the palace during the last reign; the serious illness of King Edward, on the eve of his Coronation, postponing the great ceremony for which many distinguished visitors had already arrived, and then after a short but brilliant reign, the sudden death of the popular monarch, throwing all the country into mourning. Almost before anyone knew that the King was seriously ill, for he had only just come back from Biarritz, the bulletin, announcing that "His Majesty breathed his last" within the palace, was read by the sorrowing crowds.



Besides the palaces whose stories have been related, there were at one time many other royal residences scattered over England. These have either entirely vanished, even their sites being problematical, or mere fragments of them alone remain. While England remained in an unsettled condition, with constant internal wars, the Kings were always moving about taking their Court with them, staying in their various castles or fortified houses. We find that Henry II., the first of the Plantagenet Kings, never stayed long in any place, generally moving on after a few days' visit. But when more settled times came, and the Parliament [pg 68] remained at Westminster, the King came to live longer in London or at one of his royal houses in the neighbourhood. Some of the country palaces were maintained on account of the hunting they afforded.

A few brief notes must suffice for these vanished palaces.

Baynards Castle was situated on the River Thames not far from St. Paul's. In 1461 the City of London tendered their allegiance to Edward, Duke of York (Edward IV.) at Baynards Castle, and by doing so secured his triumph. It became a royal house on the attainder of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and was rebuilt by Henry VIII., but was seldom occupied by the sovereign. Queen Mary gave it to the Earl of Pembroke.

Baynards Castle in 1790.

Dartford Priory was turned into a house for the King after the dissolution of the monasteries. It is chiefly associated with King Henry VIII.'s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, who lived there during the reign of Edward VI. and until her death in 1556. Queen Elizabeth occasionally visited it, but when it was found to need costly repairs James I. granted it to Robert, Earl of Salisbury.

Enfield Palace, though a Crown property from the time of Henry IV., was not used as a royal residence until the time of Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth was at Enfield when Henry VIII. died, and she often visited it after she came to the Throne. It was sold to the Earl of Pembroke in 1641.

[pg 69]

Hatfield House was acquired by Henry VIII., whose daughter, Queen Elizabeth, lived there during her sister's reign. James I. persuaded Sir Robert Cecil to accept it in exchange for his house at Theobalds.

Havering-atte-Bower Palace stood near Romford, in Essex. It was the country palace of Edward the Confessor, and was afterwards occupied by various Queens, some of whom died there. James I. let it to the Earl of Oxford.

Kempton Park was often used by the Plantagenet Kings up till the time of Richard II. Henry VIII. ordered it to be taken down, using the building materials for his new palace of Whitehall.

King's Langley, in Hertfordshire, was Crown land from the fourteenth century, the manor being last held by Charles I., who presented it to Sir Charles Morrison.

Nonsuch Palace.

From an engraving by Houfnagle.

Nonsuch Palace at Cheam, in Surrey, was built by Henry VIII., who had obtained the land in 1538. The Earl of Arundel, to whom Queen Mary gave the palace, completed the building, which was still unfinished. It was a most unusual structure, almost fantastic with its bas-reliefs and gilded cupolas, and quite unlike the Tudor mansion of the period. Queen Elizabeth often visited Arundel, who entertained his royal mistress in lavish manner. She afterwards bought the estate, which James I. settled upon his wife. Charles II. gave it as [pg 70] a present to Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland, who pulled it down.

Oatlands, near Weybridge, in Surrey, was the site of a palace erected by Henry VIII., who also enclosed a park. It was occasionally visited by Henry VIII.'s successors, down to the time of the Civil War, when it was destroyed.

Savoy Palace, about 1650.

From an etching by Hollare.

Richmond Palace, the much-loved residence of the Tudors, received its name from Henry VII., who had been known as Henry of Richmond after the town in Yorkshire, before he came to the Throne. The first house was destroyed by Richard II. when his wife died there in 1394, but Henry VII. rebuilt it, dying there in 1509. Queen Elizabeth was often at the palace, where she died in 1603.

Savoy Palace obtained its name from Peter of Savoy, the uncle of Queen Eleanor, the wife of Henry III., who resided there. It was bought back again by [pg 71] Queen Eleanor, who handed it on to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, from whose family it returned again to the Crown, by the marriage of John of Gaunt to Blanche of Lancaster. The captive King John of France spent some years of his life there.

Somerset House was built by the Protector Somerset, who ruthlessly destroyed churches and houses to obtain a site on the river. After his execution, it came to the Crown, and was afterwards used as part of the Queen's dowry, Catharine of Braganza being the last Queen to live in the palace. In 1775 it was converted into a Public Office; Buckingham Palace, just acquired by George III., being settled upon the Queen.

Theobalds, on the borders of Hertfordshire, was built by Robert Cecil, Lord Burleigh, who often entertained Queen Elizabeth, an honour which cost him £2,000 a visit. James I. was so delighted with it when he came there on his royal progress from Scotland, that he induced his host to let him have it in exchange for Hatfield. He was frequently there, enjoying the hunting in the neighbourhood, and died there in 1625, his son Charles being proclaimed at the gate. At the Civil War it was much damaged, afterwards being parcelled out among some Parliamentarian officers. The last remains disappeared in 1766.

Winchester Castle was built, according to tradition, by Arthur, and was constantly used by the early English Kings. It was the birthplace of Henry III., and Parliament assembled there occasionally until the fifteenth century. Henry V. was the last King to reside there. In the time of the Commonwealth it came into the possession of Sir William Waller, from whom the Corporation bought it.

[pg 72]

Woodstock, in Oxfordshire, was a royal manor when the Domesday survey was made. It was at Woodstock that Queen Eleanor, the wife of Henry II., discovered the Fair Rosamond, daughter of Lord Clifford, who was so much loved by her royal master. Much of the story is probably legend; she was certainly not murdered by the jealous Queen, but died in Godstow nunnery. Edward III. and Queen Philippa were much attached to the palace, where their eldest son, the Black Prince, was born. After Wyatt's rebellion, Queen Elizabeth was guarded there as a prisoner. James I. liked it for the hunting it afforded, and Charles I. was often there during his reign, especially when his army was at Oxford during the Civil War. It fell into ruin after the war, and the estate was given to the Duke of Marlborough after his famous victory at Blenheim. The architect of Blenheim Palace wished to save the ruins which still remained, but the Duchess of Marlborough declared that they spoilt the view, and so swept them away completely in 1723.




Stands upon a great rock rising abruptly from low-lying ground.
Its history stretches back to the dim time of legends.

Edinburgh Castle has a history that stretches far back till it is lost in the misty realm of legend. The great rock upon which it is built could not fail to have appealed to all the successive rulers of the land as of great strategic importance. It rises abruptly from the low-lying land, and dominates the country for many miles around, from the Forth on the north to the Pentland Hills on the south. Its Celtic name of Maidun, meaning the fort of the plain, became corrupted [pg 73] in later times to Maiden's Castle, the name being responsible for the tradition that the castle was used by the royal Princesses, during times of great danger.

Edinburgh Castle, from the North.

Though Edwin, the King of Northumbria, is the reputed founder of the town whose name is commonly derived from him, the clear light of history only begins to shine upon it in the days of Malcolm Canmore and his sainted Queen. At that time a Celtic Castle stood upon the rock, of which there are no remains except St. Margaret's Chapel, a little Norman building, named after Malcolm Canmore's English wife. Malcolm, the Big Head, a brave but illiterate Prince, was so devoted to his beautiful wife, that through her teaching he learned religion, and used to take part with her in the religious services of which she was so fond. Unable to read himself, he caused her prayer-books and missals to be splendidly bound, and would listen to her while she read to him, submitting at the same time to refinements in dress and table customs which were quite innovations in the rude northern Court. Queen Margaret was in the castle in 1093, when her warlike husband and her eldest son went off with a large army to fight the English. She was lying very ill when the news came to her that both husband and son had been slain, the shock causing her death. As there was [pg 74] considerable disaffection in the country, her body was carried with great secrecy across the Forth to Dunfermline, a miraculous mist kindly enveloping the party, so that no one saw them escape.

Another Queen Margaret, also an English Princess, a century and a half later, came as a girl-wife to the grim castle on the rock. She was the daughter of Henry III. of England, and had been married to Alexander III., a mere boy, with great splendour at York, her father hoping by the marriage to gain more influence over Scotland.

All the troubles of the War of Independence during the fourteenth century arose from King Alexander III. leaving no male heir. His two sons had died before him, and his grand-daughter, the Maid of Norway, was his only heir. Disasters came thick upon Scotland soon after the death of Alexander III., who had fallen over a cliff on the coast of Fife when riding too near the edge on a very dark and stormy night. For the next fifty years Edinburgh Castle was constantly being taken by the English and recaptured by the Scottish people. Everyone knows the story of how Sir Thomas Randolph surprised the English garrison in the castle, by climbing up the precipitous side of the rock with a party of thirty bold men. After this capture, Robert Bruce, according to his usual policy, destroyed the castle, so that it should no longer serve as a stronghold for the English. But when Edward III. obtained it again in 1334 he rebuilt it.

It was not until the early Stuart Kings, that Edinburgh Castle really became a palace, in the more peaceful sense of the word. When James I. returned to Scotland after his long captivity in England, he spent a considerable amount of money on building the Parliament House, [pg 75] (now used as the armoury), and many of the private apartments. He had doubtless, during his residence at Windsor and Westminster, learnt to enjoy the greater beauty and dignity of the English palaces. His son, James II., continued his work of rebuilding.

During the minority of James II., a time when several parties in the State were endeavouring to capture their young monarch and to rule in his name, a great tragedy took place within the castle. William, Earl of Douglas, a lad of about eighteen, was then the head of the most wealthy and powerful family in Scotland, and being of royal descent, might even make a claim to the throne.

As he did not join himself to either the party of Sir William Crichton or that of Sir Alexander Livingstone, these two leaders, usually at deadly enmity with one another, united to destroy the young Earl. In the year 1440, the Earl and his brother David were invited to the castle, on the pretext that the young King wanted their congenial company. Accompanied by their aged tutor, Sir Malcolm Fleming, the two boys came to Edinburgh, where they were received with real pleasure by James II., and with false hospitality by Crichton and Livingstone. But the real purpose of the visit was evident when a black bull's head was placed upon the dinner-table, in Scotland as much a symbol of death as the Judge's black cap in a modern trial. Taken unawares, the unfortunate boys were hurried to the castle walls, where, after a mock trial, they were beheaded, Fleming also suffering a similar fate.

After the time of Flodden Field, the monarchs very seldom used the castle for anything but a stronghold against their enemies, Holyrood Palace becoming their favourite residence. The last Prince to be born in the [pg 76] castle was James VI., his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, having chosen to be within the protection of its strong walls. The small room in which he was born can still be seen, a memorable room, for the infant Prince was to bring peace to his realm, putting an end at last to centuries of conflict, not indeed by any wisdom or foresight of his own, but by succeeding to the throne of England.



For peaceful beauty of situation the royal palace of Dunfermline in Fife excelled all others in Scotland, for though the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling were majestic, they were too associated with the troubles of turbulent nobles to have been pleasant residences for the monarchs. The palace was built high above a wooded glen, its walls apparently rising out of the cliff-like sides of the winding stream. Only a fragment now remains, but it is sufficient, with its mullioned windows and massive buttresses, to show how picturesque and stately must have been the Stuart palace.

The first monarch to reside at Dunfermline was Malcolm Canmore, who built a castle on Tower Hill, a little distance away from the later palace. Its site is still to be seen, though the slight remains of the walls are probably those of its Norman successor. Queen Margaret lived the greater part of her reign there, spending her days in pious devotion, giving food and garments to the poor, or sitting with her maidens working at rich embroideries to adorn the abbey which she had founded. No frivolous conversation was allowed [pg 77] among the maidens, their royal mistress being very severe, yet the Queen was much beloved, for she combined sweetness with her gravity.

It was the presence of the abbey adjoining the palace which made Dunfermline so dear to Queen Margaret. She was never tired of enriching her foundation with every gift that saintly enthusiasm could suggest, and when she died she was naturally buried in the Lady Chapel. The abbey buildings were destroyed by Edward I., but were restored by Bruce, who erected the palace near by, deserting the castle on the hilltop. The reforming energy of the Protestants, in 1560, led them to pull down most of the beautiful church of the abbey, fortunately leaving the nave, a fine example of Norman work, to be used for Presbyterian services. So many royal Princes had been buried in the abbey, from Malcolm Canmore and his Queen, that it has been sometimes called the "Scottish Westminster," yet the Reformers did not spare it, though it contained the grave of Robert Bruce. Bruce's monument being broken, became indistinguishable among the general ruin, till at the beginning of the nineteenth century the church was repaired. Some fragments of the tomb were discovered, and on the grave being opened, the body of Bruce was found wrapped in some remnants of cloth of gold, which had served as a winding sheet. A new tomb was made, and after a solemn service the body was reinstalled. Queen Margaret's tomb is still to be seen among the ruins of the Lady Chapel.

Many royal Princes were born within the palace, from the Bruce's son and heir, David, to Charles I., the last Prince to be born in Scotland. When James VI. brought his newly-wedded wife to Dunfermline, a new [pg 78] house was erected, called Queen Anne's house, to serve for the Queen's use. Three of their children were born there, Princess Elizabeth, who married the Elector Palatine of the Rhine, Prince Charles, and a son who died in infancy. Prince Charles was described as "a very weak child," irritating his nurses with his peevishness.

After James VI. acceded to the Throne of England, he never revisited Dunfermline, nor did Charles I. see again the place of his birth. Charles II. came there in 1650, when the Scots were supporting him against the Commonwealth, and while there, was forced to sign the Covenant, much against his will.

During the eighteenth century, the palace was absolutely neglected, and fell into hopeless ruin, Defoe, when he made his tour round Great Britain in 1724, finding it "the full perfection of decay." In the following century a private gentleman repaired the ruins, and claimed possession on account of the expenditure which the repair had entailed. However, the Crown disputed his claim, and resumed possession in 1871.



Through the whole period of Scottish history, Stirling Castle held a position of vast importance. In early days it stood as a stronghold against the barbarous Highlanders of the North, acting as the frontier post of civilization. For fifty years during the War of Independence, the castle was alternately held by the English or the Scotch, whichever party was at the time dominant in the country. Crowning the summit of a sudden outburst of volcanic [pg 79] rock, the castle was practically impregnable to all save treachery, and was therefore constantly used as the residence for the Stuart Kings during their minority.

Stirling Castle.

But being one of the Three Keys of the kingdom, its possession was eagerly sought during any foreign or civil war, great efforts being made both to attain and retain it. In 1296, Edward I. took Stirling for the second time, and held it for three years. Wallace had won a great victory within sight of the walls, a victory which had dispersed the English army, but had not been sufficient to take the castle. When the Scots obtained possession in the winter of 1299 after starving the garrison into surrendering, Sir William Oliphant became governor of the castle, to himself sustain a siege of many months in 1304. Edward I. was so angry at being hindered from his purpose for so long, that when he at last gained the castle he broke faith with Oliphant, sending him to the Tower of London. Ten years later, when Robert Bruce was winning back Scotland from the feeble grasp of Edward II., Stirling still held out. With superlative chivalry, Edward Bruce, who was conducting the siege, promised a year's respite, after which the castle must surrender unless relieved. Urged by dire necessity, Edward II. was persuaded to leave his frivolous Court, and gathering a magnificent army to march to Scotland. But all their splendid equipment did not avail against the courage and [pg 80] ingenuity of the Bruce, who, on the field of Bannockburn won for Scotland her greatest victory. Thousands of the English lay dead upon the field, while Edward fled for his life. Stirling Castle surrendered, and its fortifications were levelled.

Once again Stirling was to be held by the English, when Bruce's son was on the throne; but in 1342 it was regained, never to fall again into the hands of a foreign foe.

In a room in the castle, still pointed out by the guide, William, Earl of Douglas, was murdered by his royal master, James II. By special invitation, backed by a safe-conduct signed by the King, Douglas had come to Stirling in 1452. When supper was over, the King took Douglas into an inner room, where he accused him of being in league with Ross and Crawford against his monarch, and ordered him to break his bond. The haughty Douglas refused to do so, whereat James, forgetful of his safe-conduct, struck at him with his dagger, and the courtiers in attendance, dashing to the assistance of their King, Douglas fell covered with wounds, as the Duc de Guise was to do over a century later in the cabinet of Henri III.

Douglas was undoubtedly a danger to his country, at the head of so powerful and unruly a house, but James should have taken more legal measures to subdue him. However, the Parliament of his day acquitted him of all blame.


One of the three Keys of Scotland, acting as a stronghold against the Highlanders of the North.

His son, James III., lived constantly at Stirling, which was his favourite residence, building the Parliament House which still remains. His interest in the Chapel Royal, to whose endowments he wished to add the rich priory of Coldingham, aroused the enmity of [pg 81] the Homes and Hepburns, who regarding Coldingham as a family property, rose against the King. To his lasting remorse the King's son, James IV., fought against his father, who was killed after the battle of Sauchieburn. The young King really grieved, and in order that he should never forget, it is said he wore a belt of iron round his waist, adding an extra link every year.

From all the records of legal expenditure, it is evident that James IV. was a great palace builder. He is responsible for much building at Holyrood, Linlithgow, and Falkland, and at Stirling too he did most of the building of the palace, which was carried on by his son.

Both Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. were crowned at Stirling as mere infants, the ceremony taking place in the parish church, just below the castle. Queen Mary revisited the scene of her coronation when she returned to Scotland, after her long sojourn in France. She came there with young Lord Darnley as her husband in 1565, and in December, the following year, her infant son, James, was baptized with great ceremony at Stirling. Many lords and nobles assembled, wearing only their swords in order that there might be less danger of disturbance, while the royal child was carried to the chapel by Lady Argyll, acting for Queen Elizabeth, between an avenue of gentlemen bearing wax torches. The only ominous sign amidst the festivities was the absence of the father, Lord Darnley, who remained sulking in the palace.

Fourteen months later the poor infant was crowned, his mother being forced to abdicate. Another hurried ceremony took place, the crown being held over the King's head, and the baby hand guided to the sword and sceptre. The Earl of Morton took the oath [pg 82] as substitute, and then the infant was carried back to the castle in the arms of the hereditary governor of the castle, the Earl of Mar. For many years James VI. remained carefully guarded within the castle walls, never allowed to roam without first getting permission, until he had grown to man's estate. Yet he bore no ill-will to Stirling, to which he brought his wife, Anne of Denmark, and where his eldest son, Prince Henry, was born. After the desire of his life had been achieved, and he had become King of Great Britain, he paid one visit to Stirling in 1617, after which the castle was only used on one other occasion as a palace, when Charles I. came there in 1633.

The castle remained in the charge of the Earls of Mar until the Rebellion of 1715, when their connection with the rising caused the attainder of the Earl, and the loss of all his offices.



To those who see it for the first time, Holyrood Palace is distinctly disappointing. All the glamour of its romantic history seems out of place in connection with the somewhat prosaic looking mansion, which bears little outward sign of its eventful life. Nothing is left of the medieval abbey which once stood upon the site, save a ruined portion of the abbey church. And of the Stuart palace, so associated with the fascinations of Scotland's most famous Queen, only a small part is left, though luckily the fire which attacked the palace at the end of the Civil War spared the apartments used by Mary Queen of Scots. Yet, disappointing as [pg 83] a first impression may be, Holyrood Palace, to those who know anything of Scotland's story, can never fail to be interesting.

The palace was never a fortified building, for it was not used as a regular royal residence until the more fierce days of warfare had vanished. Originally an abbey stood at the foot of Arthur's Seat, being founded by David I., in gratitude for his miraculous escape when out hunting. According to monkish tradition, the King was saved by the providential appearance of a cross which interposed between him and the infuriated stag. Therefore the name of the abbey was called the Holyrood.

The Bedchamber of Mary Queen
of Scots, in Holyrood Palace.

Though not a palace until the time of the Stuarts, the early Kings often held councils there, and continued to show royal favour to the monks, who had given the name of Canongate to the burgh which arose outside the city walls. James II., who lies buried in the royal vault in the chapel, was the first to erect any kind of royal apartments in the abbey. His successor, James III., lived there, but it was James IV. who really was the builder of the palace, to which he brought his wife, Margaret Tudor, the English bride who was eventually to bring about the union of the crowns. James V. carried on the brilliance of his father's Court, his two French wives bringing many of the fashions of their own country to grace their new home. His first [pg 84] wife died soon after her arrival, but his second wife, Mary of Guise, lived to rule Scotland through many anxious years of regency, while her infant daughter was being brought up away from her in distant France.

But it was under Mary Queen of Scots that Holyrood became really famous. She made it her constant and favourite residence. After her many years of education in France, and her brief career as the wife of the sickly Francis II., she returned to her native country in August, 1561. John Knox, with the superstition of the age, comments upon the peculiar fogginess and darkness of the weather which marked the young Queen's arrival, saying, "that forewarning gave God unto us, but alas! the most were blind." Bonfires were lit, and great demonstrations of joy were manifested when Mary took up her abode at Holyrood. A band of musicians with much zeal but little skill played outside her bedroom window, being courteously thanked by the Queen; but Brantôme, the French courtier, who had accompanied Queen Mary from France, complains in his memoirs of the terrible noise of these musicians who sang psalms all out of tune; "Quelle musique! et quel repos pour sa nuit" he writes. The very first Sunday after her arrival was marred by a tumult outside the Chapel Royal, where Mass was being performed, a disturbance which was only checked by Lord James Stuart, the Queen's natural brother, who stood in front of the chapel door, and being a zealous Protestant himself, managed to check the Reformers.

The palace witnessed three interviews between the great reformer, John Knox, and his young and beautiful Queen. Using his pulpit as the opportunity for declaiming against the doings of the Queen and that of [pg 85] idolators generally, John Knox was called to task by Mary, who ordered him to appear before her at Holyrood. The first interview took place in the audience-chamber, leading into the Queen's bedchamber. Only Lord James Stuart, afterwards the Regent Moray, was present at the interview, in which Knox answered the Queen's accusations very cleverly. The second interview was held in the Queen's bedroom, the room which remains much as she left it, with the actual bed in which she slept. Off this room were two small rooms, in one of which she was supping with her Italian secretary, David Riccio, when the band of armed men, headed by her husband Darnley, burst into the room. Riccio clung to the Queen's dress, but was torn apart, stabbed, and dragged out to be despatched with many wounds at the top of the staircase.

Queen Mary's son, James VI., spent some time of every year in the palace, and restored it when he was expecting his Danish bride.

Charles I., who had been crowned King of Scotland in the chapel at Holyrood, restored the building, which was wrecked by a mob in 1688, after James VII. (James II. of England) had endeavoured to set up the Roman Catholic worship there. The chapel suffered another disaster about the middle of the eighteenth century, when the architect who had been entrusted with the work of restoring the building put on too heavy a roof, which fell in, destroying all but the bare walls. The royal vault at the east end of the south aisle still remains, containing the bodies of David II., James II., James V., and his Queen, Magdalen of France, and Henry Lord Darnley.

From the time of Charles II., who rebuilt the palace [pg 86] much as we see it now, and James VII., who stayed in the palace when Duke of York, Holyrood became deserted, the later Stuarts and the Georges not visiting their northern capital. But in September, 1745, the palace once more broke into gaiety and splendour, when Prince Charles Edward entered Edinburgh and held high court in the home of his ancestors. His father was proclaimed as King James VIII., ladies flocked to the balls to win a gracious smile from the handsome Prince, and the kingdom seemed almost won. But in the midst of all the apparent brightness, the Prince realized that his cause was not so successful as he had at first hoped; the Highlanders, indeed, were flocking in, but the Lowlanders held aloof. After a few weeks Prince Charlie determined to risk all on the desperate march into England, leaving Edinburgh never to return again.

Since then Holyrood has only once rejoiced in the presence of the monarch, when in 1822 George IV. visited Edinburgh and received an enthusiastic welcome, chiefly through the fervid loyalty of Sir Walter Scott, who devoted all his energies to the success of the first royal visit since the time of Charles I.

For nearly a century the palace has not been used as a royal residence, but is merely occupied once a year when the Lord High Commissioner to the Assembly comes in state to the capital.

[pg 87]



"Of all the palaces so fair

Built for the royal dwelling,

In Scotland, far beyond compare,

Linlithgow is excelling."

The Fountain in the Quadrangle of
Linlithgow Palace.

So wrote Sir Walter Scott, an opinion which can be endorsed to-day, enough of the palace remaining, ruined though it is, to show what a stately and dignified structure it was in its days of greatness. The palace, standing on some rising ground jutting into a beautiful lake, is square in construction, having towers at the corners. The original entrance was on the eastern side, through a gateway which was protected by a drawbridge. Inside this gateway is a mutilated statue, thought to represent Pope Julius II., who gave James IV. his sword, still to be seen among the regalia in Edinburgh Castle. A ruined fountain stands in the centre of the courtyard, which once resounded with all the gaiety of the Stuart Court. The western side, containing the room where Queen Mary was born, is the oldest, while the northern side is the most recent, being rebuilt by James VI.

[pg 88]

Apparently there was a castle or royal manor-house at Linlithgow from the time of David I., who granted the skins of the rams, sheep, and lambs, who died there, to his foundation abbey of Holyrood.

When Edward I. was holding sway over Scotland, he spent a considerable time at Linlithgow, turning it into a real fortress. Builders, masons, and carpenters were ordered from England, who threw up stockades, enclosing the parish church within the walls. It remained in English hands until 1314, when it was taken by a familiar strategy. A farmer, named Binnock, who was in the custom of bringing hay to the garrison, determined to capture the castle, one of the last to submit to the conquering Scots. One morning he drove up as usual to the castle gate, stopping his cart immediately under the portcullis, which was raised to admit him. Cutting the yoke which fastened his horses, so that the cart could not be shifted nor the portcullis lowered, Binnock sprang upon the unsuspecting porter and killed him. The hay in the cart covered some armed men who leapt out, being joined by others concealed near the gateway. The garrison was completely surprised, and were all put to the sword. Binnock was rewarded by a grant of land. Bruce destroyed the castle, following his usual policy, but it must have been rebuilt some time during the reign of his son.

The palace which now remains is entirely a Stuart building, the older castle and part of the church having been burnt down the year that James I. returned to his native country after his long captivity. Great rebuilding took place in his reign, and, indeed, he is considered the main builder, the later monarchs only adding to and adorning portions of his scheme. It was in this new [pg 89] palace that Henry VI. of England, with Margaret of Anjou, and Edward Prince of Wales, stayed when the triumph of the Yorkists had driven them from England.

James IV., under whom Scotland enjoyed a rare interval of prosperity, delighted in his beautiful palace of Linlithgow, where he indulged in all the manly sports of the time. Like his contemporary, Henry VIII., he revelled in tournaments, to which he invited all the lords to come and tilt with him, making of Linlithgow another Hampton Court, where great merry-making took place. Under his wise rule, Scotland was at peace and prosperous, the Court maintained a higher level of refinement and luxury, and science and art were encouraged. Unfortunately, James's chivalrous and rash temperament led him into war with England and the disaster at Flodden Field. Before starting on the expedition, a council was held at Linlithgow, after which the King attended evensong in the church. According to the story described by eye-witnesses, a strange man, dressed in a blue robe belted with a linen strap, with reddish hair hanging to his shoulders, pushed his way up to where the King was kneeling. Addressing him with slight reverence, the man warned the King against proceeding to battle, saying, "Sir King, my mother has sent me to you desiring you not to pass at this time where thou art purposed," saying it would bring disaster and shame, also warning him against visiting any woman on his journey. While the lords and everyone round were astonished and amazed at this apparition, the man suddenly disappeared "like a blink of the sun." In spite of the fact that the superstition of the time credited the man with being St. John appearing upon earth, the [pg 90] King persisted in his undertaking to meet his death upon the battlefield, and to plunge Scotland into mourning for the flower of the land. Doubtless the man was an imposter, got up for the part, by those who wanted to dissuade the King.

A little room in the south-west corner of the palace is pointed out as Queen Margaret's Bower, being said to be the room from which the King's English bride watched for the messengers bringing her news of her husband's fate.

When James V. became of age he also loved the palace, building the stately hall known as the Parliament Hall. He brought his French wife, Mary of Guise, there, who said she had never seen a more princely residence. His only child, Mary Queen of Scots, was born in the palace, but he never saw her, for he was at Falkland Palace when the news of her birth was brought to him, dying of grief after the shameful defeat at Solway Moss.

The infant Queen was declared by some to be extremely delicate, but Sir Ralph Sadler, the English Ambassador in Scotland, gave quite a different account. The Queen-Dowager took him into the room where her baby was lying, and showed him how healthy she was. He writes to Queen Elizabeth: "I assure Your Majesty it is as goodly a child as I have seen of her age, and as like to live, with the grace of God."


The Birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Though from very early times a royal manor-house, the existing building is purely the work of the Stuart Kings.

After the thrones were united, the palace, like so many others in Scotland, became neglected, but it received its final ruin in 1746, when General Hawley's soldiers quartered in the palace. They had been defeated at Falkirk by the Jacobites, and were retreating. In spite of remonstrances to the General, the soldiers [pg 91] were allowed to make great fires in the palace, which were so carelessly watched that the building caught fire, leaving it the ruin which it is to-day.



Unless equipped with a good knowledge of Scottish history, the average tourist wandering through Fife will come upon Falkland Palace with surprise. Its situation is so remote from any centre of importance, it stands upon no great river affording an outlet to the sea, and never being a stronghold of any sort it remains at the base instead of the top of the hills among which it is built. Though elevated to the proud position of a royal burgh in 1458, Falkland can to-day be scarcely designated by any other title than that of a fair-sized village, so that the presence of the stately palace, ruined though it is, partakes of the nature of the unexpected.

The Gateway of Falkland

Being built purely for pleasure and convenience, and with no thought of safety, the builders of the palace indulged in greater beauty of decoration than is to be seen in almost any other palace in Scotland. It suggests the dignity of a graceful French château, with its pilasters, bas-reliefs, statues, and canopied niches. Of [pg 92] the three sides of which the palace once consisted, only two remain, one of these being much ruined. But the south wing which has always remained more or less intact, is sufficient to prove how far from barbarous was the taste of the later Stuart monarchs.

Before the palace was erected a castle stood close to the site of the present building. It had long been a possession of the Earls of Fife, till in the fourteenth century it descended to an heiress who had no children. She bestowed the castle upon Robert Duke of Albany, the brother of the inefficient King Robert III. Upon Albany rests the dreadful charge of murdering his young nephew, the Duke of Rothesay, by starving him to death in the castle at Falkland. Rothesay was young and wild, and had annoyed his uncle by getting himself made Guardian of the Realm, a post desired by Albany. After involving Scotland in war with England, due to his imprudence in jilting the daughter of the Earl of March, who succeeded in obtaining an English army in his support, Rothesay was captured on his way to St. Andrews by his uncle, who, it is said, had his father's authority to do so. Taken to Falkland Castle the Prince never came out alive, dying of slow starvation according to one account, and of dysentery by another. It is evident that Albany was suspected of murder, for he took the trouble to be officially acquitted of any part in his death. Only grassy mounds now indicate the position of this castle, which must have been, according to the investigations of Lord Bute, of considerable extent.

The execution of Albany's son as a traitor made Falkland Crown property. The palace began to be erected by James II., but its chief builder was James IV., [pg 93] who spent large sums of money on the work, and much enjoyed the sport to be obtained in the neighbourhood. His son, James V., was often there, though apparently not for long periods at a time. He was the only monarch to die there, a sad event which occurred at the early age of thirty. In despair at the rout of his army at Solway Moss, the young monarch refused all consolation, and just seemed to wait for death, though there were no apparent signs of it upon him. Not even the news brought to him from Linlithgow of the birth of a daughter could cheer him. Merely saying the often quoted words, "It came wi' a lass and will pass wi' a lass," he turned his head to the wall and died a few days later.

No events of importance took place at Falkland during Mary Queen of Scots' brief reign, though she visited it occasionally. Her son, James VI., was much attached to it, on account of the good hunting it afforded. On one occasion he was nearly captured there by the reckless Francis Earl of Bothwell, who made one of his many attempts to seize the King. But on this midnight attack he was unsuccessful, for he and his party were forced to flee when the artillery of the palace was turned against them. They were not pursued, as they had taken the precaution to take possession of all the horses.

After James went to England he could seldom be lured from the luxury of his English palaces to visit his northern residences, but he did visit Falkland once again in the year 1617. Tremendous preparations were made for the royal visit, eighty carts lumbered up from Kirkcaldy with the luggage, and a large gathering of nobles and gentlemen made Falkland once more a gay and busy place.

[pg 94]

Charles I. came to Falkland once in the summer of 1633, after which the palace was never again to rejoice in great regal splendour. When Charles II. was being supported by the Presbyterians of Scotland, he spent a little time there, much worried by the persistency of his friends, who insisted upon his signing the Covenant. After he departed, no monarch ever resided in the palace, which was given to a Cromwellian officer during the Commonwealth, but which, at the Restoration, again became the property of the Crown.

Lying deserted and neglected all through the eighteenth century, the palace became a quarry for those who needed building materials, till in 1820 it was bought by Mr. John Bruce of Grangehill, who, with the assistance of Sir Walter Scott, arrested the ruin and restored the remaining structure.



Sir James Clark's suggestion that the valley of the Dee was a neighbourhood possessing all the qualifications of a health resort, induced the Prince Consort to purchase Balmoral Castle in 1852. Both he and the Queen found the lonely situation of the castle among the rugged hills, quite delightful, and though Prince Albert had at first only taken a lease, he soon bought the entire property, handing it over to the Queen as a possession for the reigning monarchs.

Though belonging to the Farquharsons for about 150 years, the last tenant of Balmoral had been Sir Robert Gordon, who, having been high in the diplomatic world, filled his house with many distinguished guests. Sir Robert had considerably enlarged the castle, but it was not sufficient for the needs of a Court, quiet and homelike as it might be. A new castle was commenced in 1853, largely from the plans and ideas of the Prince Consort, whose devoted wife called it "his own creation, own work, own building." To-day, the castle, built of native granite in the Scottish baronial style, stands out strikingly white among the dark wooded hills.


Erected in 1853, following the plans of the Prince Consort. Built of native granite in the
Scottish baronial style, it stands out strikingly white among the dark wooded hills.

By August, 1856, the new castle was quite ready, and Queen Victoria found everything delightful—"the house is charming; the rooms delightful; the furniture, papers, everything perfection"—and from that moment Balmoral remained her favourite residence, where she was happy in the company of her beloved husband, and free from much of the conventionality of State ceremonial. No one reading the Queen's letters or her diary, can fail to see how blissful was the simple domestic life, the gay picnic expeditions among the mountains, the informal dances where the Queen joined in Scotch reels and country dances.

It was among the heather of the Scottish hills that Prince Frederick of Prussia proposed to the little Princess Royal, then only fifteen years old. Prince Frederick (afterwards the Emperor Frederick III.) was so much in love that he could not refrain from speaking of it, though the Queen, owing to her daughter's youth, had wanted him to wait a little longer. Picking up a piece of white heather, Prince Frederick gave it to the Princess as they rode down Glen Girnoch, telling her at the same time how allerliebst she was.

In the midst of all this happiness came the sudden blow of the early death of Prince Albert, a grief from [pg 96] which the Queen never recovered. She wrote to her uncle, "my life as a happy one is ended! the world is gone for me!" Amidst all her desolation, it was a relief to her to get away to Balmoral, where everything reminded her of him, and where the beauty and calm of the mountains and glens were restful. Though there were no longer any large shooting parties, Queen Victoria did not shut herself up, but took a great interest in the tenantry, whom she visited constantly.

Under the fostering care of Queen Victoria, the village of Balmoral, once poor and barren, with mud cottages roofed with heather, became prosperous. Constant employment has brought wealth to the village, where schools and a library had been erected.

Whatever its subsequent history may be, Balmoral Castle will ever remain enshrined as the dearly-loved home of Victoria the Good, among the Highland folk she knew and loved so well. All her letters from the castle breathe the same feeling as the one written on October 6, 1851: "I love my peaceful wild Highlands, the glorious scenery, the dear good people who are much attached to us ... my heart is bien gros at going from here."


Transcriber's Note:

Sundry missing or damaged punctuation has been repaired.

Both hyphenated and non-hyphenated variants of some words occur in this book. All have been retained.

Any illustration which interrupted a paragraph has been moved to a more convenient location, between paragraphs.

Page 7: 'chepe' (cheap) comes from an Anglo-Saxon word (cēap), with a meaning of 'market'.

See 'THE HISTORY OF LONDON' BY (Sir) WALTER BESANT (Project Gutenberg e-book 27995)

(p. 47)
Most fortunately, there exists a document priceless and unique, short as it is and meagre in many of its details, which describes London as it was in the reign of Henry II. It is written by one FitzStephen, Chaplain to Thomas (à) Becket. He was present at the murder of the Archbishop and wrote his life, to which this account is an introduction.

(p. 49)
(translation from Latin)

"... Cheapside preserves the name of the Chepe, the most important of all the old streets. Here, every day, all the year round, was a market held at which everything conceivable was sold, not in shops, but in selds, that is, covered wooden sheds, which could be taken down on occasion. Do not think that 'Chepe' was a narrow street: it was a great open space lying between St. Paul's and what is now the Royal Exchange, with streets north and south formed by rows of these selds or sheds. Presently the sheds became houses with shops in front and gardens behind. The roadway on the south side of this open space was called the Side of Chepe...."

Page 38: 'Samual' corrected to 'Samuel'.

"Samuel Pepys watched the pageant...."

Page 57: "... that no Englishman knew how to enter a room, nor any Englishwoman how to dress, nor English cooks how to prepare a dinner, nor English coachman how to drive,..."

... is as printed, and 'coachman' is probably correct, in the context, though 'cooks' may be questionable....

Page 76: 'castle' corrected to 'castles'.

"... though the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling were majestic, they were...."

Page 79: 'seige' corrected to 'siege'.

"... sustain a siege of many months in 1304."

"... Edward Bruce, who was conducting the siege,..."

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Peeps at Royal Palaces of Great Britain, by 
Beatrice Home


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