Holyrood Palace

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The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. The palace stands at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle. Holyrood Palace is the setting for state ceremonies and official entertaining.

Holyrood Abbey was founded by David I, King of Scots in 1128, and Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 15th century. Queen Elizabeth II spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies.

The palace is open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.



The ruined Augustinian abbey that is sited in the grounds was founded in 1128 at the order of King David I of Scotland. Holyrood Abbey has been the site of many royal coronations and marriage ceremonies, and a number of Kings of Scots and other Scottish royalty are buried there. The roof of the abbey collapsed in 1768, leaving it as it currently stands.

The abbey was adapted as a chapel for the Order of the Thistle by King James VII in 1687-88, but was subsequently destroyed by a mob. In 1691 the Kirk of the Canongate replaced the abbey as the local parish church, and it is at the Kirk of the Canongate that the Queen today attends services when in residence at Holyrood Palace.


In the fifteenth century a guesthouse stood on the site of the present north range of the Palace, west of the Abbey and its cloister. Many of Scotland's medieval Kings stayed here before the palace's construction, and by the late 15th century Holyrood was a royal residence in all but name; not only was James II born at Holyrood in 1430, it was in Holyrood that he was crowned, married and laid to rest. Between 1498 and 1501, James IV constructed a new building, with Holyrood becoming a palace in the true sense of the word.

The palace was built around a quadrangle, situated west of the abbey cloister. It contained a chapel, gallery, royal apartments, and a great hall. The chapel occupied the present north range of the Great Quadrangle, with the Queen's apartments occupying part of the south range. A third range to the west contained the King's lodgings and the entrance to the palace. He also oversaw construction of a two storey gate house, fragments of which survive in the Abbey Courthouse. James V added to the palace between 1528 and 1536, beginning with the present north-west tower. In this tower are the famous suite of rooms once occupied by Mary, Queen of Scots.[1]

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