FALKLAND, a royal and police burgh of Fifeshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 809. It is situated at the northern base of the hill of East Lomond (1471 ft. high), 2z m. from Falkland Road station (with which there is communication by 'bus), on the North British railway company's main line to Dundee, 21 m. N. of Edinburgh as the crow flies. It is an old-worldlooking place, many of the ancient houses still standing. Its industries are chiefly concerned with the weaving of linen and the brewing of ale, for which it was once specially noted; and it has few public buildings save the town hall. The palace of the Stuarts, however - more beautiful than Holyrood and quite as romantic - lends the spot its fame and charm. The older edifice that occupied this site was a hunting-tower of the Macduffs, earls of Fife, and was transferred with the earldom in 1371 to Robert Stewart, earl of Fife and Menteith, afterwards duke of Albany, second son of Robert II. Because of his father's long illness and the incapacity of Robert III., his brother Albany was during many years virtual ruler of Scotland, and, in the hope of securing the crown, caused the heir-apparent - David, duke of Rothesay - to be conveyed to the castle by force and there starved to death, in 1402. The conversion of the Thane's tower into the existing palace was begun by James III. and completed in 1538. The western part had two round towers, similar to those at Holyrood, which were also built by James V., and the southern elevation was ornamented with niches and statues, giving it a close resemblance to the Perpendicular style of the semi-ecclesiastical architecture of England. The palace soon became the favourite summer residence of the Stuarts. From it James V. when a boy fled to Stirling by night from the custody of the earl of Angus, and in it he died in 1542.
Here, too, Queen Mary spent some of her happiest days, playing the country girl in its parks and woods. When the court was held at Falkland the Green was the daily scene of revelry and dance, and "To be Falkland bred" was a proverb that then came into vogue to designate a courtier. James VI. delighted in the palace and especially in the deer. He upset the schemes of the Gowrie conspirators by escaping from Falkland to St Andrews, and it was while His Majesty was residing in the palace that the fifth earl of Bothwell, in 1592, attempted to kidnap him. In September 1596 an intensely dramatic interview took place in the palace between the king and Andrew Melville and other Presbyterian ministers sent by the general assembly at Cupar to remonstrate with him on allowing the Roman Catholic lords to return to Scotland. In 1654 the eastern wing was accidentally destroyed by fire, during its tenancy by the soldiers of Cromwell, by whose orders the fine old oaks in the park were cut down for the building of a fort at Perth. Even in its neglected state the mansion impressed Defoe, who declared the Scottish kings owned more palaces than their English brothers. In 1715 Rob Roy garrisoned the palace and failed not to levy dues on the burgh and neighbourhood. Signs of decay were more evident when Thomas Carlyle saw it, for he likened it to "a black old bit of coffin or protrusive shin-bone striking through the soil of the dead past." But a munificent protector at length appeared in the person of the third marquess of Bute, who acquired the estate and buildings in 1888, and forthwith undertook the restoration of the palace.
Falkland became a royal burgh in 1458 and its charter was renewed in 1595, and before the earlier date it had been a seat of the Templars. It gives the title of viscount to the English family of Cary, the patent having been granted in 1620 by James VI.
The town's most distinguished native was Richard Cameron, the Covenanter. His house - a three-storeyed structure with yellow harled front and thatched roof - still stands on the south side of the square in the main street. The Hackstons of Rathillet also had a house in Falkland.
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This page was last modified 29-SEP-18
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