A Stewart’s Grand Design
Anyone visiting Stirling recently, cannot have failed to notice the hive of activity round Stirling Castle, as Historic Scotland prepares to open their newly refurbished James V Palace.
Plastered across railings and steps, doors and fences are the ubiquitous paper signs: ‘Wet Paint’. The Queen must be coming to visit!
And indeed there is, two of them in fact. Mary of Guise, 2nd wife to the late James V and now Queen Dowager, and her daughter, also Mary, now Queen of Scots. Costumed interpreters will join with eager visitors and spectators to set the scene in the height of the Scottish Renaissance period in the 1540's.
Helping to furnish this magnificent restoration are seven hand-made woven tapestries. James V was known to have two sets of unicorn tapestries when he lived at Stirling Castle. These new tapestries are closely based on a set of seven original tapestries, produced in the early 1500’s, now held by the Metropolitan Museum of New York at its Cloisters Museum. These masterpieces now adorn the Queen's colourful and flamboyant Royal Chambers.
For some dizzyingly dazzling details, one should look to the heavens in the King’s bedchamber to view the infamous Stirling Heads. 34 of the original heads have survived after the original palace ceiling was dismantled in 1777, when the Royal Army was in occupancy. The new heads have been lovingly recreated and brightly painted, and serve as a reminder to the visitors of the King’s heritage and prestige in the European court of politics. Visitors can view the original heads, and find out about thier meanings in the Stirling Head Gallery.
The palace was commissioned in 1538, as James V prepared to marry his new bride Mary of Guise. He died before seeing the project completed, however his widow and heir made the palace their home in the years that followed. Designed to display James V's wealth, learning and sophistication, it also asserted his right to rule the Scottish Kingdom. Its elaborate decorative scheme, inside and out, was inspired by the European Renaissance and draws on ideas from the Classical world, employing elaborate symbols and motifs to broadcast messages of power and prosperity, wisdom and justice.
This project mixes Channel 4's "Grand Designs" with HBO's "Tudors" and will prove a far more enduring and education entertainment for Scotland's people and her visitors for years to come.
Posted by Jean Blair on 15 June 2011
Haven't visited Stirling Castle since the Royal Apartments have opened! so looking forward to taking visitors to view!
Posted by Sue Gruellich on 07 June 2011
Spent all day Sunday at Stirling Castle as I couln't drag myself away from the fun of the fair - music, sword fights, demonstrations of food and makeup and wee performances in the Great Hall. A great way to celebrate the opening of the Royal Apartments.