Herbert Maxwell.

Official guide to the Abbey-church, palace, and environs of Holyroodhouse online

. (page 8 of 13)
Online LibraryHerbert MaxwellOfficial guide to the Abbey-church, palace, and environs of Holyroodhouse → online text (page 8 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

new doctrine by immolating Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas
More. Yet King Henry had not lost hope of securing a
hold upon Scottish affairs ; so, after the Emperor Charles
V. had bestowed the Golden Fleece upon the King of
Scots, and the King of France had conferred upon him
the Order of St Michael, Henry followed suit with the
Order of the Garter, with which James was invested in
Holyrood Abbey Church on 2ist February 1536, being
the first Scottish monarch to receive that distinction. A
contemporary diarist thus notices the occasion :

" Vpoun the aucht day of Februare thair come ane ambassatour out
of Ingland callit William, sone to the erle of Surreye, with certane
greit horsis to the Kingis grace, with xxx horsis in'tryne [train], with


the ordour of the knycht of the gartare. Vpoun the xxj day of
Februare the Kingis grace ressauit the ordour of the gairter in the abbay
of Halyrudhous with greit solempnitie." 1

"The King's grace," be it observed; not his Majesty,
which style, though borrowed occasionally by Scottish
courtiers from the example of Henry VIIL's magnificence,
can scarcely be found as officially applied to Scottish
monarchs before the union of the Crowns. The proper
address to the King of Scots continued to be the ancient
and simpler phrase, " the King's Grace."

On i gth May 1537 King James brought home his

bride Madeleine, eldest daughter of the King of France,

to whom he had been wedded in the church

James" v! f of N6tre Dame at Paris - Landing at Leith,
with Made, this new Queen of Scots knelt and kissed the
France, 1537. SO1 ^ of Scotland, and then proceeded to the
Palace of Holyrood amid the cheers of the
people. The festivities were brief. Queen Madeleine's
health was wretched; within eight weeks of her arrival
she was laid in a tomb within the Abbey Church. " Doole
weeds " i.e., mourning dress were worn generally
throughout the realm out of regard for her untimely fate
the first time, says Buchanan, when such an observance
was known in Scotland.

A year had not elapsed when, in June 1538, King
James married his second wife, the widow Madame de
Longueville, Mary of Guise, who was crowned in the
Abbey on 22nd February a ceremony which, so far from
being made the occasion of royal clemency, was followed
by the burning of six heretics on the Castle Hill on the
last day of the month. From that day forth matters went
from bad to worse in Scotland. Queen Mary bore her
1 Diurnal of Occurrents.


husband a son in 1540, another in 1541 : both were
buried in the Abbey of Holyrood in the latter year. Then
King James undertook that invasion of England which
miscarried so shamefully in the rout of Solway, 24th
November 1542. He trailed himself, a broken-hearted
man, to Falkland Palace. Word came to him there that
his queen had been delivered of a girl on 8th December :
the news brought him no cheer. " The crown," he mur-
mured, " cam' wi' a lass, 1 and it will gang wi' a lass." He
died on the i4th, and was buried beside his first wife in
Holyrood Abbey, leaving the crown, with its train of
sorrow and strife, to the babe Mary Queen of Scots.

1 Referring to Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I., whose son by
Walter the Steward succeeded as Robert II., first of the Stuart dynasty.




James V.'s addition to Holyroodhouse . . c. 1528

Burning of the Abbey by the English . . . 1544

Second devastation of Holyrood .... J 547

Demolition of choir and transepts . . . c. 1569

Arrival of Mary Queen of Scots . . . iQth August 1561

The raid against Huntly ..... 1 562

Execution of Chastelard . . . 22nd February 1 563

The Mass and the masses ..... 1 563

Marriage of Queen Mary with Lord Darnley

ALTHOUGH the north-west tower of Holyrood Palace has
been known for long as James V.'s, it was probably part
of the original work of his father, James IV.
Tower ought ^ n ' s a PP ears pretty clear from the Treasurer's
to be known accounts, which contain notes of the final pay-
iv.'s 1505. rnents to Walter Merlioun in 1505 "for com-
pleting the tour in Halyrudhous," the last entry,
on 1 3th November, ending with the words, "and sa all
payet tharefor." During the rest of that reign payments
were made in connection with the extension of the Palace
towards the south; whereas after 1513, when James V.
came to the throne, the entries refer only to repairs and
minor alterations, glazing windows, adding iron stanchions
to them, and suchlike. Dr Wilson, indeed, writing about
the middle of the nineteenth century, stated that the
legend JAC : V : REX : SCOTORUM remained in Roman


letters gilt on the bottom of one of the recessed panels
on the front of this tower ; but this has now disappeared.
Probably it was placed there when the Palace was being
rebuilt under Charles II. The position of this tower in
relation to the Abbey Church is well shown in a sketch
prepared, it is believed, for use in the Earl of Hert-
ford's invasion in 1544. The fore-court shown in this


drawing, with its vaulted gatehouse, was taken down in


Hertford, as is well known, made use of his information
in a manner most disastrous to the Scots, whom he was sent
to chastise. Henry VIII., being determined that the infant
Mary, Queen of Scots, should be wedded to his son, after-
wards Edward VI., had the support of a powerful section
of the Scottish nobles the "assured Scots," as they were


called ; but the majority of the nation clung to the French
alliance, and refused to entrust their young Queen to Henry's
keeping. The treaty of marriage was concluded, indeed,
at Greenwich on ist July 1543, but the distaste of the
Catholic party for the English alliance was invincible.
Regent Arran's hand was forced. Cardinal Beaton, with
the Earls of Huntly, Lennox, Argyle, and Bothwell, ap-
peared at Linlithgow with 6000 men, and the Regent
consented to the removal of Queen Mary to Stirling, where
she would be secure from any sudden attempt by the King
of England.

On the very day of Mary's removal from Linlithgow,
peace perpetual peace between England and Scotland
was proclaimed in Edinburgh, and on 25th August Arran
and the " assured Scots " assembled in the Abbey Church of
Holyrood and ratified the treaty of Greenwich. But all
this was upset by the Parliament which assembled on 3rd
December. Beaton and the French party were in com-
plete ascendancy ; even Arran had done penance for his
apostacy and been received back into the Church of Rome ;
rigorous laws against heresy were passed ; the treaty of
Greenwich was declared null and void, and the alliance
with France was renewed.

Henry's vengeance did not tarry. On '4th May 1544

the English fleet appeared in the Forth. Hertford landed

at Leith at the head of a force far more powerful

Burning of . .

the Abbey by than any that Scotland, in her divided condi-

the English, t ^ on ^ cou \^ bring against it, and a devastation


began, fiercer than ever had been wrought in
two hundred and fifty years of war. The town of Edin-
burgh was sacked ; the beautiful Abbey of Holyrood was
laid in ashes ; James V.'s new palace was gutted. Only the
Castle stood impregnable upon its mighty rock. Lord


Hertford recrossed the Border in May, having destroyed
everything in his path.

One of Hertford's officers, Sir Richard Lee, has caused
his name to be remembered with special bitterness by
Scotsmen a good soldier, no doubt, for Henry VIII. was
well served in the field, but with a keen eye for loot. It
has been mentioned in the first chapter how Abbot Robert
Bellenden presented the Abbey, among other gifts, with a
"gret brasyn fount." Well, this brazen font Sir Richard
Lee carried off to England, and presented it to the Abbey
of St Albans, the clergy whereof caused it to be engraved
with an inscription in Latin. 1

The font was scarcely more secure at St Albans than it
had been at Holyrood. For a hundred years it remained
a noble ornament of the great Hertfordshire minster ; but
Thomas Fuller has recorded how it was "taken away in
the late civil wars, as it seems, by those hands which
suffered nothing (how sacred soever) to stand, that could
be converted into money. ... I could almost wish," he
added, " that the plunderers' fingers had found it as hot as
when it was forged, that so these theives, with their fault,
might have received the deserved punishment thereof." 2

So passed this " fair font of solid brasse " ; but there re-
mains in St Albans another work in the same metal which,

1 The inscription as given in Camden's Britannia may be rendered
in English as follows :

"When Leith, a not inconsiderable town of the Scots, and Edin-
burgh, their principal city, had been destroyed by fire, RICHARD LEE,
Knight, rescued me from the flames and brought me to the English.
In return for this good deed, I, hitherto accustomed to wash none but
the children of Kings, have now willingly yielded my office even to
the meanest of the English. Such was the will of the victorious Lee.
Farewell. In the year of our Lord MDXLIIIL, and of Henry the
Eighth XXXVI."

z History of the Worthies of England, vol. i. p. 315.


it is almost certain, formed part of Sir Richard Lee's booty
in this expedition namely, the eagle lectern which was dug
up in the chancel of St Stephen's Church at St Albans
when a grave was being prepared about the year 1750.
The base of this lectern bears the legend ffieorgius Hr 1
Cretd)t0un % (Epfecopus ! Shmfcelfcensfs that is, George
Crichton, Bishop of Dunkeld with the arms of Crichton,
a lion rampant on a shield backed by a crozier and sur-
mounted by a mitre. It seems pretty clear that this was a
gift from Bishop Crichton to Holyrood, after he ceased to
be abbot in 1522, on appointment to the see of Dunkeld,
and that it escaped the fate which overtook the font only
because the clergy of St Stephen's buried it out of sight.
The inference is a pretty fair one that the lectern, as well
as the font, were presents from Sir Richard Lee, seeing that
on 7th January 1544-45, a few months after the sack of
Holyrood, he received from King Henry a grant of the
rectory and church of St Stephen's, which, until the dis-
solution of the monasteries in 1539, had been the property
of the Abbey of St Alban's.

Lee doubtless had the will he only lacked the leisure to
remove another of Abbot Bellenden's benefactions namely,
the leaden roof with which he had "theikkit the kirk."
That remained as a spoil for Hertford when, as Duke of
Somerset, he renewed his invasion in 1547 the cruellest

of all the visitations that the Scottish people
devastation ever na( ^ to endure. The monks of Holyrood
of Holyrood, had fled by that time, the church stood silent

and bare; but the flames of Hertford had
spared the roof, probably it had been the Palace that
suffered most in his conflagration. Lead, since the use of
firearms had become general, was one of the most precious
munitions of war, so Somerset's captains stripped the



rafters clean, and carried off that other gift of pious
Bellenden the church bells. 1

All trace of these bells has been lost. The life of a
bell is certainly precarious, and it may well be that these
have been recast ; but it is interesting to note that some-
thing is known of the fate of their successors. It is recorded
in the Minute Book of the Barons of Exchequer that on
i yth February 1773 a petition was received from the com-
mittee for erecting " the chapel in the Cowgate for publick
worship after the usage of the Church of England," praying
for the use of the two bells which were taken down from
the steeple of the chapel at Holyroodhouse (i.e., the
Abbey Church, or what remained of it), " where they are
now rusting and exposed to the open air." Leave was
given to the petitioners for the use of the best bell, in the
penalty of ^150 to return the same when required. It is
said that this bell now hangs in the south-east minaret of
St Paul's Church in York Place.

Again, on 2oth July 1774 the Lord Provost of Edinburgh

1 This devastation is thus recorded in the official report on Somerset's
operations : " Thear stode south westward, about a quarter of a mile
from our campe, a monasterie : they call it Hollyroode abbey. Sir
Water Bonham and Edward Chamberlayne gat lycense to suppresse it ;
whearupon these commissioners, niakyng first theyr visitacion thear,
they found the moonks all gone, but the church and mooch parte of the
house well covered with leade. Soon after, thei pluct of the leade and
had down the bels, which wear but two ; and, according to the statute,
did somewhat hearby disgrace the hous. As touching the moonkes,
bicaus they wear gone, thei put them to their pencions at large."
[Patten's The Late Expedition in Scotland.] A note scribbled on a
fly-leaf of the ritual book of the Abbey was probably the last writing
done by the monks before they fled : " Memorandum, vii Septembris
A.D. xlvij, the Erie Hartfurde [Somerset] led ane army of xx m. men be
land and xiii m. be see, and thair intendit be plain conques. Quhilk
come the samyn day to Hadingtoun, and on Gladsmuir [Pinkie] wes
feildit be the Governor of Scotland and Dowglas."


informed the Council that the great bell of St Giles's dating
from 1460, the same that rang a summons to the citizens
after the battle of Flodden, having been cracked, he had
applied to the Court of Exchequer " for one of the bells in
the chappell of the Abbey of Holyrpodhouse, . . . which
their Lordships had been pleased to grant, upon bond
being given for the penal sum of ^300 sterling to restore
the same if called for." It is recorded in the Council
Minutes that the said bell bore upon it this inscription :


No bell so inscribed remains among the three-and-twenty
bells of St Giles's Church ; and in fact it is known that the
Holyrood bell was transferred from St Giles's Church to
the Tron Kirk and destroyed on i6th November 1824,
when the steeple of that church was burnt down.

Notwithstanding the stripping of the roof during Somerset's
invasion of 1547, the nave remained, in name at least, the

parish church of the Canongate. In 1569 Adam
ofThoir'and Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, made an ex-
transepts, change with Lord Robert Stuart, Commendator

of Holyrood, giving Robert the temporalities
of his bishoprick, which were erected into an earldom in
1581, and taking those of Holyrood Abbey, while retaining
the title of Bishop of Orkney. For this simoniacal bargain,
among other offences, he was called to account by the
General Assembly. In his defence, the Bishop declared
that he was not responsible for the condition of

" the Abbay Kirk of Halyrudhous, quhilk hath been, thir twentie yen's
bygane, ruinous through decay of twa principall pillars, 1 sa that nane
war assurit [safe] under it ; and twa thousand pounds bestowit upon it
wald not be sufficient to ease men to the hearing of the word and

1 The two eastern piers of the crossing.


ministration of the sacraments. Bot with thair consent, and help of
ane established authoritie, he wes purposed to provide the means that
the superfluous ruinous pairts, to wit, the Queir and Croce Kirk [the
choir and transepts], micht be disponed be faithfull men to repaire the
remanent sufficiently."

The age of great churches had passed away. " Faithfull
men " in other words, speculative contractors were forth-
coming. They made a quarry of all but the nave west of
the crossing. Down went the choir and transepts, wherein,
according to invariable practice, was the finest workmanship
in the building ; the material, so far as it was not required
to build up a new east end, was sold " to provide funds
for converting the nave into the Parish Kirk of the Canon-
gate." One may see that the rubble work under the present
east window of the nave is made up of fragments of Norman
ashlar and thirteenth century mouldings and piers.

In such manner was one of the fairest churches in the
land mutilated beyond redemption, and the tombs of
Scottish kings and queens lying before the high altar were
removed, to be huddled together in a vault at the south-east
angle of the nave. All this was the ill-fortune of a brave
war : worse was to follow, when the hands of Scotsmen
themselves were laid to the work of desecration and pillage,
as will be noticed in a later chapter. For the moment we
must return to the early years of Queen Mary's reign.

Before Mary Queen of Scots arrived in her capital the
Reformers had purged the Abbey Church of all semblance
of the ancient worship. Instead of the Mass was read the
new service of Common Prayer, accepted at first by the
Presbyterians, whereat the French officers belonging to the
troops brought over by the Queen Regent manifested their
displeasure in an intolerable manner. They used to attend
at public worship, laughing and talking all the time so loud


that the preacher could not be heard conduct which con-
tributed much to embitter the sects against each other at
the very time when there was most need for conciliation.
The Abbey Church was constituted the parish church of
the Canongate, with Mr John Craig as minister, a colleague
of John Knox in the ministry of Edinburgh. As to the
Palace, undaunted by the cruel disasters of 1544 and
1547, the Scottish Government had repaired James V.'s
tower, and built a new wing to the Palace between that
tower and the church ; so that Queen Mary, coming to her
capital on igih August 1561, took up
Mary Queen residence at once in the royal apartments.

of Scots comes

to Hoiyrood, Brantome, who was in her suite, pronounced

1561. Ug " S Holyroodhouse certes un beau bastiment, qui
ne tient rien du pays " undoubtedly a fine
building, little in keeping with the country," high en-
comium from one accustomed to the splendour of Blois
and Chambord, the sombre magnificence of Loches, and
the sunny grace of Chenonceaux. Possibly the courtier's
criticism was tempered by the native courtesy of a
Frenchman, but even that could not bring him to tolerate
the serenade with which the loyal citizens greeted her
arrival. John Knox, on the other hand, thought it very
fine. "Fyres of joy," says he, "war sett furth all nyght,
and a cumpany of the most honest, with instrumentis of
musick and with musitians, geve thair salutationis at her
chalmer wyndo. The melody (as sche alledged) lyked hir
weill ; and sche willed the same to be contineued some
nightis after." l " As sche alledged " is good ; for we
know from Brantome how intolerable was the discord of
wretched fiddles and rebecs, and how fatal to repose were
the psalms droned from five or six hundred throats.
1 Laing's Knox, il t;o.


All this uncouth, though cordial, greeting was changed
to angry murmurs on the first Sunday after the Queen's
coming to Holyrood. She had declared her resolve to
rule her Protestant lieges in a spirit of noble tolerance.
"For my part," she had said to Throckmorton, the English
ambassador in France, " you may perceive that I am none
of these that will change my religion every year. ... I
mean to constrain none of my subjects, but would wish
that they were all as I am, and I trust they should have no
support to constrain me." But tolerance was a quality
most alien from any form of sixteenth-century Christianity,
as Mary speedily realised when, as had been stipulated,
Mass was privately celebrated, not in the Abbey Church,
but "in hir Hienes chappell within hir palace of Haly-
rudhous." 1 At this the Lords of the Congregation were
" grittumlie annoyit " ; the Master of Lindsay and the
gentlemen of Fife declared that the priest should be done
to death ; the Queen's bastard brother, Lord James Stuart
(afterwards Regent Moray), " whom all the godlye did most
reverence," kept the angry crowd at bay at the chapel door,
while the service proceeded within : when it was over, the
priest was only saved from violence by the other brothers,
Lord John and Lord Robert, escorting him to his chamber. 2
Next Sunday Knox opened his artillery against the Mass.
" One messe," he declared, " was more fearful to him than
gif ten thousand armed enemyes war landed in any pairte
of the realme, of purpose to suppress the hoill religion."

Then followed the celebrated interviews in the Palace
between the great Reformer and the Queen of Scots.
Knox, proof against that charm of manner and speech

1 Diurnal of Of currents, p. 66.

2 Lord John and Lord Robert were respectively lay commendators
of Coldingham.


which had already mitigated the bitterness of some of the
Lords of the Congregation, abated no whit of violence in
denouncing the doctrines of Rome, and at the end of three
weeks Mary, unconvinced, set out on a progress through
her realm, in the course of which, according to Knox,
many towns were " polluted with hir idolatrie " ; in other
words, the Queen worshipped her Maker according to the
rites to which she had been accustomed.

Returning to Holyrood at the end of September, the
young Queen made her Court as gay as the circumstances
of a poor, war-wasted country would permit. On 3oth
November, the first anniversary of her husband's death,
there was a great fete> " the Lord Robert, the Lord John
[Mary's half-brothers], and others ran at the ring, six
against six, disguised and apparelled, the one half like
women, the other like strangers, in strange masking
garments. The Marquis [d'Elboeuf] that day did very
well ; but the women, whose part the Lord Robert did
sustain, won the ring. The Queen herself beheld it, and
as many others as listed." 1 She hunted and hawked ; she
played golf and pall (a kind of croquet), " biles " or
billiards, dice and " the tables " or backgammon ; she
scandalised the godly by the splendour of her attire when
presiding in Parliament splendour wherein Knox could
only perceive, and perceiving proclaim, the "styncken
pryde of wemen." But the people in the streets cried,
" God save yon sweet face ! " a prayer to which there
was to be sore need of answer in years to come. More
equivocal was Mary's fancy to wander through the streets
disguised, sometimes in male apparel, which, as was to be
expected, caused " men's tonges to chatter faste." But if
Mary had learnt in the French Court to love a joyous life,
1 Bishop Keith's History, ii. 1*9.


she had also imbibed there the spirit of the Renaissance
the insatiable desire for learning. Randolph, English
ambassador at Holyrood, informed Cecil that the Queen
"readeth daily after her dinner, instructed by a learned
man, Mr George Buchanan, somewhat of Livy " ; l and it is
known from inventories that her library, which she loved,
was well stocked with books.

From these and other abundant sources a pretty accurate
picture may be had of the mode of life in Holyrood
Palace. That aspect upon which it is most agreeable to
dwell is the daily routine in the private apartments, where
Queen Mary was attended by Mademoiselle de Pinguillon
and "the four maidis of honour quha passit with hir
Hieness in France, of hir awin aige, bering the name
everie ane of Marie " 2 Mary Fleming, Mary Beaton, Mary
Seton, and Mary Livingstone. There they sat and worked
at embroidery, while one made music or read aloud. In
sunny weather they would shift the scene to that garden
which now lies so bare and cheerless, but which then,
one may presume, was tastefully laid out in pleached alley
and secluded " pleuse."

The general appearance of the Abbey and Palace at
this time probably was pretty much as shown in de
Witt's engraving, supposed to have been executed in the
seventeenth century from a drawing by James Gordon,
parson of Rothiemay. James V.'s tower is shown on the
left, very much as it appears at the present day, except
that an ogee gable, since removed, then rose between the
flanking turrets, and the roofs of these turrets no longer
support open crowns. Moreover, the two panels on the
towers, now vacant, then displayed the royal arms of
Scotland, which were defaced here, as on all public build-
1 Foreign Calendar, Eliz., iv. 584. 2 Bishop Lesley's History, p. 297.


ings in Edinburgh, by order of the English Parliamentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryHerbert MaxwellOfficial guide to the Abbey-church, palace, and environs of Holyroodhouse → online text (page 8 of 13)