I was astonished recently seeing a tourist flier promoting Edinburgh Castle’s ‘top ten highlights’. At No.3 was the Royal Palace block with a photograph entitled, ‘Created in 1617 in honour of James VI’. This caption was inadvertently misleading.
For me it was a very familiar interior, recalling a much later period, in fact an exciting few months nearly 400 years later, when we were fortunate enough to have the job of reinstating the lost woodwork within The King’s Dining Room, now known as The Laich Hall (with its adjoining Presence Chamber).Cliveden Conservation were to recreate the magnificent plaster ceilings.
We worked under the guidance of Historic Scotland, which had carefully researched both the written and physical evidence of preparations made for the King’s long awaited homecoming.
The Laich Hall before works began
The Hall has seen various uses over the centuries: from being the garrison store room to the Secretary of State’s function room. For weddings it provided (and still does), a more intimate setting than The Great Hall.
John Best making the pilasters & finishing work at Discoed
The floors, panelled walls, window seats, doors, steps and screen were made in Herefordshire Oak and Speyside Scots Pine at our workshops here on the Welsh Borders. During the installation we became very familiar with the sights and sounds of Edinburgh, notably Highland Pipers practising late in the evening next door. I can never forget being pinned against the wall of the Lower Ward by the enormous sound of Massed Pipers during rehearsals for the Royal Tattoo until the Esplanade Gates eventually released them – and me!
It was also memorable meeting the Prince of Wales on two occasions when he came by to see the work in progress.
With Historic Scotland and Cliveden we were pleased to receive an national award for our work back in distant 1999.
On my most recent visit, the Laich Hall and Presence Chamber have withstood the wear and tear of millions of visitors extremely well and really are beginning to look their ‘400 years’!
The North Door