Thu 30 Nov 2017
On the last weekend in November each year, Historic Scotland give away free tickets to their attractions as part of the St Andrew’s Ticket Giveaway. You must reserve tickets online in advance, but you can visit as many attractions as you like over the weekend. Last year was the first time we took advantage of this great offer, with a brilliant visit to Edinburgh Castle. We enjoyed it so much and decided that this year we would try Linlithgow Palace.
Linlithgow Palace is about a 40 minute drive from Edinburgh city centre, in the royal burgh of Linlithgow in West Lothian. It was one of the main residences of the Scottish Royal Family in the 15th and 16th centuries. It’s now in ruins and open to the public as a visitor attraction.
I went along last Saturday with my husband and kids aged 2 and 4. It was a freezing cold day, so we had to wrap up warm, as much of the palace remains are roofless. Although the building is now in ruins, a lot of the architecture has been retained and we all found it a fascinating place to explore. Highlights include a three-tiered fountain in the courtyard, dating from 1538, which is very ornate and well-preserved. Also, the Great Hall, which was built around 1425. This huge room with a large stone fireplace would have been extremely grand in its day.
The kids were given a Children’s Quiz, which led us around the castle with some simple questions for them to answer. This was quite a nice way to get them to look around and take an interest in the finer details. They had a brilliant time, but they do love a castle (or palace in this case)!
I’m really interested in the history of castles and palaces, and the Kings and Queens who lived in them. So, I enjoyed learning more about the Stuarts. I discovered that Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of the iconic monarch Mary Queen of Scots, who became Queen in 1542 when she was just a few days old. She was succeeded by her one-year-old son, James VI of Scotland, when she was forced to abdicate in 1567. James VI also went on to become James I of England when the kingdoms united, and he became the first King of Great Britain. He moved the royal court to London in 1603 and the palace quickly fell into decline. In 1746 a great fire swept through the building causing irreparable damage.
We really enjoyed our visit to Linlithgow Palace. My husband and I loved the history and architecture, and the kids had a ball exploring the echoing chambers, climbing the winding staircases (with some help from us!) and hiding behind pillars in the great hall. Thanks to Historic Scotland for another fabulous St Andrews Weekend freebie!