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Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives


Sep 14, 2016

Four hundred years ago, in September 1616, a large supply of English oak was transported from Kent and Essex to Leith. This timber was destined for the palace block of Edinburgh Castle known as the King’s Lodgings.

The oak was required as the Royal apartments were being extensively remodelled in preparation for a rare visit by James VI (James I of England) to his Scottish capital. Supplies of Scottish oak were limited as the oak used for the Scottish navy of James IV a century before had never been adequately replenished.

King's Lodgings, Edinburgh Castle

The work was commissioned by James Murray, Master of the King’s Works. Murray was a leading figure in Scottish architecture after the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

The detailed design was however strongly influenced by William Wallace, the King’s Master Mason, who was later to be in involved in the early designs for Heriot’s Hospital to the west of Greyfriars Kirkyard.

The ornamental detail of Wallace’s design was Anglo Flemish in character. In the King’s Lodgings and also at Linlithgow Palace, he pioneered the practice of placing two rooms side by side within the width of the building. This departure from the previous practice, of designing rooms of the same width as the building, allowed more compact living spaces, and the dividing walls also conveniently housed the chimney flues.

Sources:John G Dunbar: Historic Architecture of Scotland 1966, and Architecture of Scotland 2nd rev.ed. 1978.

 

 



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