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Falkland Palace, Fife

Location: Falkland, Cupar, Fife KY15 7BU (map and directions)

Falkland Palace is a former royal palace of Scottish kings. The Scottish Crown first acquired Falkland Castle from MacDuff of Fife in the 14th century. Transformations were made to the old castle by King James IV and James V, who converted the castle into a sophisticated royal palace.

Falkland Palace, Fife copyright Michael Murray
Falkland Palace © Michael Murray

History of Falkland Palace

James V died at Falkland in December of 1542, just after receiving news of the birth of his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, who became a frequent visitor of the castle as she enjoyed the tranquillity of its location away from Edinburgh.

Falkland Palace continued to serve as a popular retreat to the monarchy, which used Falkland as a base for hunting and falconry practice, even after the Union of the Crown in 1603. James VI, VII, Charles I and Charles II all made trips to stay at Falkland until Cromwell’s army set it on fire, at which point the palace was left to fall into ruin. In 1887 restoration on Falkland Palace was begun by John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute and the palace stayed in the hands of the family until the 1950s when the 5th Marquess of Bute appointed the National Trust for Scotland. The NTS take care of the Palace and its sprawling grounds and gardens today.

Falkland Palace, Fife copyright Tom Richardson
Falkland Palace © Tom Richardson

The gardens are full of well manicured lawns, trees and flowers, and the grounds are home to the world’s oldest tennis court to still be in use. The court is home to the Falkland Palace Royal Tennis Club.

Map and directions

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Other castles in Fife

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