Falkland Palace is a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) property and probably wins the prize for the NTS property selling the most tea towels – everything from the Monarch of the Glen (I’ve got that) to How Scotland was Created (got that one as well). There were tea towels of Scottish Flowers (you guessed, got that), the works of Robert Burns (tempting) and many more. There was also a deal of 3 for £12 on tea towels; I’ve never seen anything like that before in a NTS (or NT) property before. Who needs to look at gardens when the opportunity for so many tea towels was there? The exciting thing, however, was that they had a Falkland Palace tea towel, depicting the thistle that is on the stained glass window in the lower floor of the house. The thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III, in 1200s, and was used on silver coins issued by James III in 1470.
James IV and his son, James V, wanted to create a ‘pleasure place’ for the country pursuits that they loved – falconry and hunting; Falkland Palace achieved this by being one of Scotland’s finest ‘renaissance’ palaces. Mary Queen of Scots adored Falkland Palace as it reminded her of the chateaux of the French Royal Court, where she grew up. One of the fascinating things about Falkland Palace is the Real Tennis Court; James V built this in 1541 and is the oldest Real Tennis Court in Britain, probably the world. There is a small museum with archives about Real Tennis (sometimes known as Royal Tennis), trophies, old photos etc.
The grounds of Falkland Palace are a delight; an orchard with a ‘Bee Meadow’, tall manicured box hedges, two sunken ponds. The final designs were carried out in 1903 by Percy Cane, an Arts and Crafts designer, so the curvy borders were seen as innovative at that time. The gardens hold the largest collection of Pelagoniums in Scotland, with 175 varieties, housed in a Victorian greenhouse.
Although I first went to Falkland in 2001, in search of a tea room (and found two which are still there, delightful as ever – the Hayloft and Kynd Kittock), it was only on this trip that I visited Falkland Palace – a true delight and always somewhere that I would return to if I was in the area. The two highlights for me, which this tea towel will remind me about, are the Real Tennis Court and its memorabilia and the Pelagoniums (sorry, also all those tea towels in the shop!!).
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum