Advantages A wonderful afternoon absorbing Scottish heritage!
Disadvantages Palace very small so would need a dry day to enjoy outdoor facilities.
|Is it worth visiting?|
My partner works away a lot as an electrical contractor, and as our relationship has developed he has been inviting me along to Scotland on his stays so we can spend more time together and sight-see some of the stunning Castles and Palaces this beautiful country has to offer. One of the places we have visited of late has been the fabulous Scone Palace – home of the 8th Earl of Mansfield and previously visited by some of the Nation’s Greats such as Robert the Bruce, King Charles ll and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Queen Victoria graced this splendid Palace with her presence in 1842 and a whole bedroom has been preserved in her honour within this stately building.History in the Making…
The present Scone Palace (pronounced Scoon – like Spoon) is actually the third building to inhabit the impressively kept grounds. The first building was an Abbey (excavations were being carried out as little as two years ago to try and discover more of the Abbey’s original foundations), the second looked like a Shakesperian-type of dwelling complete with an integral courtyard – this was destroyed in Scotland’s Reformation Period in the 1500’s. It was then re-built in the early 1800’s and has housed generations of the Mansfield family ever since. Royalty have always been a part of the Palace with Coronations taking place from as early as 1306 with Robert the Bruce being crowned on the Stone of Scone, through to King Charles ll in 1651 when he accepted the Scottish crown.
The Stone of Scone (better known as the Stone of Destiny) was removed from the Palace in the latter end of the 13th Century and placed in Westminster Abbey until it was presented back to the people of Scotland finally in 1996. The Stone was used in Queen Elizabeth ll’s Coronation so is still an integral part of the United Kingdom’s heritage and is now on display in Edinburgh Castle alongside the Queen’s Scottish Crown Jewels such is its importance.
Directions to the Palace
Scone Palace is open from 1st April through to the 31st October 2012, but the grounds are open all year through. The website does state visits within the Palace can be arrange by prior agreement.Maps and a Guide were given out when we purchased our tickets, otherwise a booklet for £4.95 was on sale for the more ardent History buffs amongst us.
Facilities/Gardens/Things to Do
There is a Chapel situated on Moot Hill which was the ancient crowning place of the Kings of Scots. Here sit today a replica of the Stone of Destiny which my partner and myself took great delight on sitting on. There was a 16th century archway to the ancient and original village of Scone but it is currently being rebuilt after a hapless lorry driver decided to take an ill-fated short-cut underneath it – Oops!
Walking past Mr Douglas’s Pavilion you happen upon The Pinetum, which in actuality is a spectacular collection of coniferous trees. To the left of The Pinetum is The Murray Star Maze made up of 2000 beech trees and designed by the world famous Adrian Fisher. This was great fun to try and do and has a bridge overlooking the bronze water statue in the centre of the maze.
There is a picnic area as you approach the ticket office, several families were sat making the most of the fine May sunshine.My Opinion of the Palace
Pristine in condition, the Palace itself is covered with Creeping Virginia which is not yet anywhere near its stunning peak, but still the vines made the brickwork look distinctive, aged and weathered. The main entrance to the building is situated on the right hand side as you approach the Palace. Everything was well sign-posted and easy to follow. On entering Scone Palace you are greeted by one of several friendly and knowledgeable Guides scattered around the rooms and an introductory leaflet explained the rich and colourful Regal history in essence. The pride within the family is tangible of their beautiful home. The open to the public rooms are situated on the first floor with the family’s private apartments below and above. The entire place was immaculately clean and steeped in historical antiques and furniture as you would expect. There are sculptures galore made of ivory, bronze statues abound as do French clocks and chairs. Mary Queen of Scots has a bed hanging on display that she worked on while in prison in nearby Loch Leven. There is also a desk owned by the young Queen Marie Antoinette, rich is marquetry and amazingly well-preserved given its age.
Paintings are plentiful, huge and imposing. And yet for all it’s splendiferous glory, this Palace is so small, so intimate in its family history with informal pictures scattered throughout of the Mansfields’ and their generations of heirs and heiresses that you feel almost as if you are in a family home rather than an imposing Royal Palace.
A State dining room, a State drawing room, a Library plus an Inner Hall where Queen Victoria practiced her curling skills on a 15th century wooden floor all feature in your tour around this stunning piece of history. I found The Long Gallery in particular gorgeous, this is one of the oldest parts of the Palace and you can see the difference comparing this 15th century original architecture to the 18th century newer building. Turrets abound and are typical of the designs of the time – this place would be a little girl’s dream castle!I would say you need a dry day to get your money’s worth. The walks through the gardens, woodland areas are delightful – the air pure and fresh, the scenery second to none. However, the part of the Palace open to the public is surprisingly small inside so on a rainy day you would be hard pushed to kill an hour inside without a visit to the Old Kitchen Restaurant or Old Servants’ Hall Coffee Shop.
All in all I cannot fault our visit. The weather was wonderful – sunny and warm – the Palace stunning and a credit to the Scottish for looking after their fantastic heritage as well as they do. The grounds were a delight to meander gently around as much as my limited mobility allowed, and white wrought iron benches abounded to rest your weary bones or just soak in the ambiance of the place. Peacocks ran rife, fabulous on their opulence – even white peacocks roam freely, quite tame and come up pretty close too. For a few hours spent on a lazy afternoon Scone Palace is just the ticket and a must-see for History buffs. Please do visit if you find yourself up this neck of the woods!
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