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Tour of the House
Everywhere are portraits, old prints and maps which refer to the history of the house.
The entrance leads on to the main stone spiral staircase which goes up to the High Drawing Room, bedrooms, Library and Museum.
The ground floor gives access to vaulted cellars and the Still Room which has a fine collection of blue and white china.
Here are some of our highlights:
When completed in the 16th century, the High Drawing Room ceiling was decorated with painted beams and panels: typical of Scottish painted ceilings at that time. The fragments which you can see today were discovered and restored in 1954.
In the middle of the 1700's the fifth Earl of Traquair who had visited Italy as a young man, covered the beams and paneled the walls in the classical style which remains today.
Above the doors he had cartouches painted which symbolise Drama, Music, Painting and Architecture (right).
There are full length portraits painted in Scotland in the 1630's, a portrait of John Dryden the poet, and the Drawing Room also contains a rare harpsichord (left), in full working order, made by Andreas Ruckers of Antwerp in 1651.
The Kings Room
In 1566 Mary Queen of Scots visited Sir John Stuart, who was 4th laird of Traquair and captain of her bodyguard, with her husband Lord Darnley and infant son James (later King James VI) whose wooden cradle you can see at the end of the bed.
The state bed, which is 16th century, was brought from Terregles House where it was used by Mary when she stayed there.
It has a fascinating collection of old letters, illuminated books, glass and objects used by the family over the years, and very rare wall paintings from circa 1530 (above). You can see more images in the museum photo gallery.
- Mary Queen of Scots' Rosary and Crucifix.
- An early wood and paper calculator: Napier's Bones.
- A letter signed by Mary Queen of Scots.
- Embroidery from the 1600s.
- Early printed book from 1493, Nuremburg Chronicle.
- Illuminated books.
- Jacobean Glass
Portraits of philosophers and poets around the ceiling cornice are used for cataloging the books, which are numbered and ordered below them.
Over the fireplace is a schoolroom scene, possibly after a painting by Jan Steen and painted by a local artist.
This room was used as a Chapel until the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed in 1829. Here the resident chaplain would also have lived, often in complete secrecy. In the corner of the room you can see an ingeniously designed secret escape route hidden behind a shelved cupboard. In times of danger the priest could have fled through the cupboard and down the old stairs, then leave by the side of the building when the house was being searched.
The Dining Room
This room is situated in one of the “modern” wings of the house which were built in 1694. The decoration here is now Victorian with French hand blocked wallpaper chosen at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The table can be extended to seat up to 24 people and is used by the family and also can be hired for weddings and special events. There are a remarkable collection of family portraits on the wall including a portrait of the 1st Earl of Traquair, who was made Lord High Treasurer of Scotland in 1636.
On the sideboard there is a collection of pewter plates and mugs as well as three cutlery boxes. The centre one contains a full complement of Bow porcelain-handled knives and forks.
This room adjoins the Dining Room and is where the ladies would have retired after dinner or taken tea in the afternoon. There is another example of the French hand blocked wallpaper in this room and a fine Chippendale mirror. On either side of the fireplace hang the portraits of the Duke of Perth and the Duchess (daughter of the 4th Earl of Traquair), both painted by John Alexander in 1735.
In the East wing lies the Roman Catholic Chapel which was converted in 1829 after the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed. Previously, the family billiards room it is a Victorian style chapel where the servants and estate workers would have sat in the pews and the family sat at the back behind the screen. There are 12 Flemmish oak carvings from the 1500’s on the walls depicting the life of Christ and a fine Italian marble altar. You may also pick up the very “heavenly smell” coming from below as this is where the eighteenth century brewhouse is situated.
The Still Room
The “Still Room” situated on the ground floor was originally a garden parlour in the 1700’s buut late became the housekeeper’s room when the room was partitioned and she kept her stores under lock and key. The room was also situated here so she could have listened for the bells outside in the hall. There is a fine display of porcelain here both English and Chinese and a trompe d’oeil painting on wood above the fireplace. If you are staying for bed and breakfast, the Still Room is where breakfast is served.