The History of Leith

September 14, 2012

The residence of Mary of Lorraine and Guise, widow of James V.

An ancient pile of buildings, now swept away,
but which were accessible by Blyth’s, Tod’s, and
Nairne’s Closes, formed once the residence of
Mary of Lorraine and Guise, widow of James V.,
and Regent of Scotland from 1554 to 1560. It
is conjectured that this palace and oratory were
erected immediately after the burning of Holyrood
and the &ty by the English in 1544, when the
widowed queen would naturally seek a more secure
habitation within the walls of the city, and close
to the Castle guns. In this edifice it is supposed
that Mary, her daughter, after succeeding in detaching
the imbecile Darnley from his party, took
up her residence for a few days after the murder
of Rizzio, as she feared to trust herself within
the blood-stained precincts of the palace. Over
its main doorway there was cut in old Gothic
letters the legend Laus honor Deo, with I. R.,
the initials of King James V., and at each end
were shields having the monograms of the Saviour
and the Virgin. The mansion, though it had been
sorely changed and misused, still exhibited some
large and handsome fireplaces, with beautifully
clustered pillars, and seven elaborately sculptured
stone recesses, with much fine oak carving in the
doors and panels that are still preserved. Over
one of the former are the heads of King James V.,
with his usual slouched bonnet, and of his queen,
whose well-known beauty certainly cannot be traced
in this instance.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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