Chapel Royal, Falkland Palace

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 25350 07450, map


Address

Falkland Palace, Falkland
Fife
Scotland

Introduction

The Chapel Royal is located in the south range of Falkland Palace, which is situated in the centre of Falkland, close to the parish church. It is one of the finest surviving pre-Reformation places of worship in Scotland and is still used for worship today. The Renaissance palace was began in the early 16th century, replacing an earlier castle that was destroyed by the English in 1437. During the reigns of James IV and V the palace was used as a hunting lodge. It originally occupied three sides of a courtyard, but today only the south range is complete, after it was extensively restored in the 19th century. Falkland Palace is maintained and run as a visitor centre by the National Trust for Scotland.

J Dowling 2017


Description (exterior)

The chapel occupies part of the second floor of the palace, with windows in the south frontage.   The chapel has four large rectangular windows in the south face of the palace, each divided by a thick stone mullion and with small panes of leaded glass. Smaller windows at the west and east end of the chapel provide additional light to the interior. The exterior walls of the palace are of ashlar sandstone and tall buttresses with statues within niches are placed between the windows of the chapel.

J Dowling 2017


Description (interior)

The chapel is orientated east-west and is rectangular on plan. It is entered through an ante-chapel at the west end, with a fine 16th century oak screen separating this anti-chapel with the main nave. The sanctuary area is at the east end and beyond this is a small vestry. The oak screen is thought to be the work of Richard Stewart and dates from around 1540. It is a rare structure and is regarded as being of national importance. The nave of the chapel has a spectacular compartmented oak ceiling, which may also date to the 1540s. Much of the ceiling was originally painted in 1633 but it was heavily restored in 1896, when a major restoration of the south range of the palace was undertaken. 

The nave of the chapel has rows of moveable wooden chairs, divided by a wide central passageway, which leads to the sanctuary at the east end. The interior walls are lined with fine wooden panelling, some of which is painted. Large tapesteries hang from the north wall and depict various Biblical scenes. Also on the north wall is the fine canopied 'royal pew', which was constructed in the 1890s but incorporated some 17th century woodwork. At the east end of the church is the sanctuary area, separated by wooden sanctuary or altar rails. The communion table (or altar if the chapel is multi-denominational) is placed in the centre and raised on three shallow steps. It is covered with fabric and a large wall hanging forms a reredos behind it, on the east wood-panelled wall. A tall wooden pulpit (built in the 1890s and again containing some much older wood) is placed to the side and has a rear sounding board and a canopy above.

J Dowling 2017

 

The plain oak pulpit was made at the same time, also incorporating some 17th century fragments.


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
Mr William ThomBuilderC1500Master mason in building work done at Falkland Palace. Master Mason at Falkland Palace when Chapel Royal built.
Mr Peter FlemismanSculptor1539Carved two figures that are in the Chapel Royal.

Events:

  • Chapel: Build/construction (1512)
  • Chapel: Build/construction (1537 to 1541)
  • Chapel: Build/construction (1540)
    Feature: Ceiling.
    People: Robert Stewart
  • Chapel: Build/construction (1633)
    Painted ceiling.
  • Chapel: Restoration (1893 to 1896)
    Restoration work was carried out int Falkland Palace by John Kinross.

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 8798
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 29787This reference no. is not just for the Chapel, it is for Falkland Palace.
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 29787
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 6650

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988pp. 213-214