Life for royalty in these times centred on the five royal residences: the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Falkland Palace and Stirling Castle. Important state functions took place in the Great Hall, where lavish banquets were held to celebrate christenings and weddings. Mary had her own apartments in each residence, while important visitors and advisors were accommodated in their own suite of rooms. Remarkably, the royal party generally travelled with its own beds, linen, tapestries and the like, and great wooden kists containing clothes and state papers. Recreation varied from ‘real’ (royal) tennis – at which Mary is said to have shocked her courtiers by playing in breeches – and golf, thought to be the first woman to practice the art of golf in Scotland – to indoor pastimes like backgammon, song and dance.
National Museum of Scotland A silver gilt and gold gaming board with tablemen and dice is said to have been presented by Mary to her close friend Mary Seton, who was one of the ‘four Marys’ who accompanied her to France.
National Museum of Scotland Made of wood and brass and dating from c.1450 this harp or clarsach originally had fixed to it a gold coin with a portrait of Mary.
Falkland Palace This is the location of the oldest real (or Royal) tennis court in Britain, built for Mary’s father, James V of Scotland.
Stirling Castle You'll find that the six main rooms of the Royal Lodgings are today presented as they may have looked in Mary’s time.