All of our stained glass windows at Falkland are heraldic and late 19th century. They were commissioned by John Patrick Crichton- Stuart, the Third Marquess of Bute. The Chapel and Tapestry Gallery windows were commissioned in 1893 and installed in 1894, with the windows in the office and private apartments (currently hidden behind our scaffolding) installed a little later in 1897. Bute also renovated the rest of the palace (look out for the carved window shutters and door in the Keeper’s Dressing room of his children and a portrait of himself) and completely rebuilt the Cross-House.
Most of the windows in the Chapel and Tapestry Gallery are in pairs of husband and wife; James IV appear alongside Margaret Tudor, James V appears next to his second wife Mary of Lorraine and so on. However, poor Magdalene of France (James V’s first wife) is all by herself in the Ante-Chapel, and the Dauphin of France, Francis II (Mary Queen of Scots first husband) is isolated in the Vestry. Equally, look out for some very lonely people in the windows of the stairwell just beyond the Tapestry Gallery. Lord Bute has included the arms of David, Duke of Rothesay (who mysteriously died at the Falkland in 1402, possibly at the hands of his uncle, Robert Stuart) and the lovely Isabel Countess of Fife, who died childless and passed the 13th century Castle (the ruins of which can be seen in the gardens today) to her brother-in-law, also Robert Stuart.
The cartoons and sketches for the windows were drawn up by Horatio Walter Lonsdale, however, the idea behind their design came from Lord Bute. The windows copy a manuscript known as the Lindsay Armorial, published in 1542. It is a register of all the heraldic arms and shields of the aristocratic families in Scotland, as well as members of the Royal family. Sir David Lindsay was also the court poet for James IV and James V, and would have stayed at Falkland when the Royal Court was based at the palace, so the choice of his armorial is especially fitting.
Equally, Lord Bute was very keen to make sure the windows were historically accurate. When you visit the chapel, look at the wall directly opposite the windows and you will notice that Bute has copied some of the 17th century wall paintings (look just above the tapestries), which depict windows with diamond-shaped glass. The plain glass in the windows in the Chapel and Tapestry is all diamond-shaped to copy these wall paintings. At Bute’s other homes, such as Castell Coch or Cardiff Castle in Wales, the plain glass behind the figures or shields is far more complex, often with patterned geometric shapes. Hence, at Falkland it looks as if Lord Bute has chosen to follow the diamond-shapes (known as quarry glass) for a particular reason.
However, if you have visited the palace recently will have notice that some of our stained glass is missing. The panels are currently in Glasgow undergoing conservation work. The windows were surveyed last year and it was decided that a little tender-love-and-care was needed. Some of the windows were deformed and bulging inwards or outwards. This is caused by the lead
between the window panes stretching and putting stress on the glass, causing fractures. However, this happens naturally and gradually over time. A few windows had these cracks within the glass panes and will be mended with a glass resin (you will hardly notice it when re-installed!), which works like a very strong glue to hold the broken glass together.
The windows in the chapel need minor resin repairs, which will be performed with the windows still in place. If you are lucky you might get to see some conservation in action on one of your visits to the palace! All of the windows will also be cleaned as, like your windows at home, they end to get a bit grubby over time.
As scaffolding was needed to access the glass, the we decided to have a full Year of Conservation (the stained glass will not be re-installed until November) and work on the historic stone roundels on the exterior of the palace at the same time. Inside, the painted ceilings will also be restored. The Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland is also going to carry out a survey of the palace over the summer, as the scaffolding means easier access to those usually hard to reach places. We will be posting more information as the year progresses, letting you know what happens and talking to the conservators. Equally, keep an eye out for conservation talks and family workshops.