A guest blog from Judith:
Traquair House in the Scottish Borders has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491 and last autumn I was lucky enough to be given a personal tour by the laird, Catherine Maxwell-Stuart.
There is so much to see in the house, that I cannot begin to describe everything, so I shall pick out just a few amazing things which Catherine told me more about.
There was the rosary which belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots who ruled Scotland for a few years in the 16th century. Mary, a Catholic, daughter of James V of Scotland, spent her childhood in the French court and married the dauphin in her teens. When he died, she returned to Scotland, a young Catholic queen to rule a Presbyterian nation. She married, had a son, (who became James I of England) but conflict followed and she fled to England, to be imprisoned and eventually beheaded. This rosary is an exquisite and delicate row of beads.
The sense of history and heritage was strengthened by the twelve panels in the chapel, which represent the life of Christ. They are believed to be Flemish, brought to Scotland about 1530 and installed in the chapel in Edinburgh where Mary of Guise (the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots) worshipped. They were then bought by the Earl of Traquair in the 1700s. Beautiful objects, tracing not only our heritage but also Scotland’s links with Europe.
We tasted some Traquair Ale and afterwards tried to find our way round the maze. Maybe we should have tried the maze before the ale!
P.S.: If you'd like a personal tour by the laird you must book in advance and it will cost you more than an ordinary tour, but it is worth every penny and will be a highlight of your visit to Scotland.