Stories of love and war. Tales of Scottish clans, royal conflict, and daring escapes. If that sounds like your kind of day then Dalkeith Palace, Scotland, is the place to be!
Dalkeith Palace, once the spectacular dwelling of the first Duchess of Buccleuch and even Bonnie Prince Charlie, now stands as an architectural marvel!
Adventuring around Medieval Dalkeith Castle (and let’s not forget about the stunning Dalkeith Park, too!) is an unforgettable experience. Plus, it’s a fast shot from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, so you can make it an all-in-one day.
Stroll through the country park and hear the stories pouring out of the old tower walls. Dalkeith Palace has a bit of something for everyone: the explorer, the historian, the art lover, and more!
In This Post
History of Dalkeith Palace
Midlothian is rife with fascinating history; if the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen an iconic Heart of Midlothian football game!
The history of Dalkeith Palace began with the Clan Graham in the 12th century. When John de Graham died in the 14th century, it was passed to the Clan Douglas through his sister and her husband, James Douglas, who became the Earl of Morton. In 1406, James Douglas built the college chapel.
Cardinal David Beaton was jailed in Dalkeith Castle in 1543, and shortly after, the castle was taken over by soldiers. Anne of Denmark and James VI visited the castle often in the late 16th century; during one of their stays, a prisoner escaped through their bedroom with the queen’s servant’s help. Talk about a daring escape!
Dalkeith Palace history saw a lot of royalty, from Princess Margaret’s birth to Prince Charles’ illness. King Charles I purchased the castle from William (the 7th Earl of Morton) and strengthened it. After some defensive additions like the drawbridge, he returned the castle to the Earl of Morton, as he found the purchase challenging.
William eventually sold Dalkeith Palace to the Buccleuch family. Anne and James (the eldest illegitimate son of King Charles II) became the Duchess of Monmouth and Duke of Buccleuch. When James was executed, Anne commissioned architect James Smith to make the new house similar to Prince William of Orange’s palace. Construction went underway, and architect James Smith was the one who decided to take a part of the tower house of the old castle and place it into the new structure. You can even see the old tower walls as part of the country house today!
In the 18th century, William Walker and Benjamin Robinson started renovations for the new palace complex, including several marble chimney pieces. Plumber John Scott redid the roof and other minor additions were carried out afterwards, like the low window by James Playfair and the resurfacing of the building by John Adam. The layout of Dalkeith Palace was strange at the time; the Great Dining Room couldn’t be positioned correctly and was placed on the ground floor. The 18th century also marked the construction of the spectacular Montagu Bridge, designed by Robert Adam.
In the 19th century, William Burn made more changes to Dalkeith Palace, including new spaces for the Duke’s Chamberlain. The construction of St Mary’s Church as a private chapel was also an addition made by William Burn!
Tons of interesting guests stayed at Dalkeith Palace when it was thriving; King George IV in the 19th century, Queen Victoria in 1842, and Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed for two nights, too! During World War II, some Polish Soldiers stayed at Dalkeith Palace and left stunning graffiti that you can see today on the third-floor wallpaper.
The Buccleuch family hasn’t lived in Dalkeith Palace in over a century. Not long after they left, Dalkeith Palace became a research and development office and later, the University of Wisconsin took residence. The Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust and the University of Wisconsin completed their lease in 2021.
Details to Remember About Dalkeith Palace
When you’re heading to Dalkeith Palace, it’s best to plan in advance regarding times, cost, accessibility and transportation.
Dalkeith Palace Opening Times
Dalkeith House never used to be open to the public, but the University of Wisconsin has moved elsewhere. That means you can actually tour inside now!
Dalkeith Country Park is allowing small tours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between 11.30 am and 2.30 pm. Tours run from 18 June to 03 September, with 2023’s theme being “A Passion For Music”.
Each tour of Dalkeith Palace is just over an hour, costing £9.50 a person, including exhibition entry!
Dalkeith Country Park and the Restoration Yard have accessible and level parking spaces and accessible toilets, too. They also have baby-changing sites!
The Restoration Yard’s Kitchen Store and Coffee Bar are wheelchair-friendly. The fort can only be accessed through assisted wheelchairs and the terrain isn’t completely smooth. The Sky Maze also has accessibility options for assisted wheelchairs, buggies, and prams.
How to Get To Dalkeith Palace
Don’t be late! The tour session gap is pretty small, so plot your route out in advance.
Ways to Get There Using a Car
It’s best to stick to GPS if you don’t know the area well. The Dalkeith Palace address to look out for is Buccleuch St, Dalkeith EH22 1DN, UK. If you’re driving from Edinburgh to get to Dalkeith Palace, Country Park, expect a 15-35 minute journey. Depending on where you’re coming from, the best routes are the A1 (S) or the A7 Old Dalkeith Road.
Ways to Get There Using Public Transport
If you don’t have a car or plan to rent, public transit is the way to go!
The best way to get to Dalkeith Palace by bus from Edinburgh is to head to the North Bridge bus station for a direct 35-minute journey to Dalkeith House, Scotland. The bus leaves approximately every 30 minutes.
A train will definitely make the trip longer, but you can catch one from the Borders and Edinburgh City Centre to Eskbank Station. Then it’s a 25-minute to get there!
Attractions at Dalkeith Palace
There’s lots to see in and around Dalkeith Palace; plan a full day!
Tour Dalkeith Palace
For the first time ever, it’s possible to tour inside Dalkeith Palace! Now you can stroll the halls of Dalkeith Castle, rife with English and Scottish history, and check out the paintings and exhibition.
Wander the Country Park
The Country Park is a fantastic place to spend the day. You can picnic with the family, go for a lovely stroll, and there are even cycling paths. Nowadays you can actually camp at Dalkeith Country Park to be right in the middle of the magic!
Fort Douglas is all about the kids! They’re open every day, with morning and afternoon sessions available. Kids (up to 12) can have a blast climbing and exploring bridges, slides, and tree houses with endless fun.
The Restoration Yard
The Restoration Yard is full of fun activities. If want a more chilled afternoon, the Wellbeing Lab has you sorted with mindful activities like pilates, arts and crafts, yoga, meditation, and more!
The Shop has endless, hand-picked options for fashion, books, toys, anything!
Then there’s The Kitchen, which is perfect for topping off a day of adventure with a bite to eat. Head to the Larder for some quick snacks on the go.
If you want to be in the middle of the action in Dalkeith Palace, Go Ape will get your heart pumping! They’ve got 8 thrilling zip wires and even a ground activity, where you have to solve mysteries and puzzles and figure out top-secret codes.
Keep a lookout for Dalkeith Palace events! They’ve always got something happening, from craft workshops to special dining festivities.