The walls of Dalkeith Palace are the keepers of many tales; from its origins as a 12th century stronghold to the starting point for King George IV’s visit to Edinburgh wearing tartan, the Palace has played host to many notable and notorious events.
Transforming her 'old castle'
Dalkeith Palace, as we recognise it today, was rebuilt by Anna Duchess of Buccleuch. A self-professed ‘high and mighty princess’ the Duchess, although titled in her own right, had been married to the glamorous James Duke of Monmouth (1649 – 1685), the eldest and favoured natural son of King Charles II (the King who brought back partying), who had been executed after an unsuccessful attempt to claim his uncle’s crown.
Over the course of ten years, Duchess Anna set about transforming her ‘old castle’ into a palace. Respectful of its status, as the family’s principal seat in Midlothian, and antiquity, she wanted to use the very best of materials and most eminent of craftsmen.
The best carver in the country
Grinling Gibbons (1641 – 1721) was certainly the best carver in the country and the Duchess commissioned many works by Gibbons for the Palace in imported coloured and patterned marble, the largest of which, The Story of Neptune and Galatea, remains within the Palace today.
This week, The Master Carvers Association will commemorate and celebrate the work of Grinling Gibbons with their Art and Ornament exhibition; marking the Baroque master’s tercentenary with a demonstration of current carving practice, the living legacy of Gibbons’ influence. Over forty artists and makers will exhibit within the Palace over the weekend with tickets available from