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The finest small group vacations in rural Britain


You'll love a visit to Traquair House in Scotland's Borders. The fact that the "modern wings" added on to the property were completed in 1680 gives you an idea as to the depth of history represented at Traquair House! The Stuarts of Traquair were ardent supporters of the Scottish crown and many of the Scottish royalty have graced the grounds through the ages.

History pervades the air around this romantic castle - Scotland's oldest inhabited house. Visited by many monarchs including Alexander I, Mary Queen of Scots, James VI (James I of England) and Bonnie Prince Charlie. That's not mentioning uninvited ones, such as England's Edward I, the "Hammer of the Scots"!

It was at Traquair House a charter was signed by King Alexander I in 1107, and marked the first stay of many by Scottish monarchs. From this time on, Traquair assumed the importance of a royal residence. Traquair, like many castles surviving today in Southern Scotland, was fortified to defend against an English invasion, but English troops occupied it nevertheless. Kings Edward I and II of England stayed here, but with the victory of Robert the Bruce in 1306 the house returned once more to the Scottish Crown.

Traquair was eventually sold on to the King's uncle, the Earl of Buchan, whose second son, James Stuart, became the first Laird of Traquair in 1491. In 1513 the first Laird fell with the King at Flodden. The present family descends directly from him.

At the time of Mary Queen of Scot's marriage to Lord Darnley, the Fourth Laird of Traquair was knighted and became Captain of the Queen's Guard. He was responsible for Mary's flight to safety following the murder of Rizzio and the conspiracy against the her.

However, royal connections don't end there! An Earldom was received from Charles I in 1633, the first Earl himself was captured at the Civil War Battle of Preston while trying to rescue the king from the Parliamentarian forces. He spent 4 years imprisonment in England's Warwick Castle.

During Britain's religious conflicts, John, the Third Earl, was fined 5000 Pounds for marrying a Catholic - a considerable amount of money in those times! Catholic Mass had to be celebrated secretly. "Priest Holes" became common throughout England and Scotland to hide Catholic priests. At Traquair, a hidden escape was made for them should the house be searched.

The fourth Earl was sentenced to death for his part in the Jacobite Rising of "Bonnie" Prince Charlie. The Earl's wife's sister-in-law (confused?) rode to London and organised his escape from the feared Tower of London.

The Fifth Earl of Traquair is known for the "closing of the Bear Gates". They were closed in the autumn of 1745 after his guest, "Bonnie" Prince Charles Edward Stuart left Traquair with a promise that the gates would not open again until the Stuarts were restored to the throne. You can see them today when you visit - they have remained closed ever since.

Traquair House is very much a family home and has remained largely unchanged through recent centuries. You can visit the bedroom Mary Queen of Scots stayed in during her visit in 1566 and see the hand stitched quilt said to be the work of her ladies-in-waiting. At the foot of the bed is the cradle used by her infant son, James VI of Scotland who became James I of England. Take some time to wonder at Mary Queen of Scots' Rosary and Crucifix, a 18th Century library with 3000 books almost exactly as they were when the library was first formed, and, of course, the Bear Gates mentioned above.

Scotland's history and heritage are more than amply represented at Traquir House. Set amid tranquil Scottish countryside, it will be a highlight when you visit Scotland with LancasterAuthentic.


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    The finest small group vacations in rural Great Britain. Lancaster Authentic, Tour operator of quality Walking Vacations & Driver Guide Tours
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