Culross Palace, Fife
~ History ~
500's ~ Culross is founded as an important religious centre by monks.
Across the River Forth, Princess Thenew is expelled in disgrace by her father, the King of Lothian. She is cast adrift at Aberlady in an open boat and left to die. Miraculously, wind and tide convey her to Culross, where monks rescue her and her and help her give birth to her son Mungo. He grows up to travel westwards to establish a religious centre of his own.
The monks are also the first miners to unlock the prosperity of Culross, the 'black stones which burn'.
1490 ~ Culross is granted a charter by the Cistercian Abbey making it a Burgh of Barony. This provided economic privileges, such as to trade, hold a weekly market and annual fair. Salt panning is a growing industry on par with the established coal mining at Culross, where the Forth provides the perfect highway along which to trade, as far as Scandinavia and Holland.
1570's ~ The export of Coal has increased to such an extent it comes to the attention of King Jame VI government as crucial to the Scottish economy.
1575 ~ George Bruce, a descendant of King Robert the Bruce, is granted the lease of the Abbey collieries. Using his extensive coal trading experience from travelling the continent, he soon puts it to get use at Culross to revolutionise trade in the town. His growing wealth soon enables him to purchase the collieries outright.
King James VI visits Culross and is so impressed by what he has seen, and ever mindful of the opportunity to increase Royal revenues, grants Culrosss the sought-after status of Royal Burgh.
1597 ~ The west wing of the palace is built. It is visited by King James.
1603 ~ Such is George Bruce growing influence he is involved in arranging the terms of the Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England.
1610 ~ George Bruce is knighted.
1611 ~ A north wing is added to the palace.
1625 ~ A great storm seriously damages the under-sea mining works.
George Bruce, by now a Scottish Member of Parliament, also dies later the same year.
1629 ~ George's son and heir, also named George, has his son Edward born at the palace.
1648 ~ An ardent Royalist, Edward receives further royal appointments by King Charles I, a year before the King's execution at Westminster.
1659 ~ Edward's younger brother alexander, also an active Royalist, is exiled to Holland during Oliver Cromwell's commonwealth. He marries a Dutch heiress, returning to Britain the following year upon the Restoration under King Charles II, by whom he is already held in high esteem and confidant.
1662 ~ Alexander is appointed to the Scottish Privy Council and made advisor to the Duke of Lauderdal, virtual ruler of Scotland.
1670 ~ Alexander is forced into political retirement for opposing the persecution of the Presbyterians by Lauderdale. He retires to the family palace at Culross. He later moves to Culross Abbey House.
1680 ~ After a decade in retirement with financial difficulties Alexander dies.
1705 ~ Alexander's son, also names Alexander, spends his life unsuccessfully trying to reverse the enormous debts he has inherited.
Blind and unmarried his dies at the age of just 39. His father's estates are sold to Colonel John Erskine of Carnock, whose mother was the grand ~daughter of Sir George Bruce and is a staunch supporter of William of Orange. He has a long political career through the years of Union with England.
1743 ~ John dies, having wasted much of inherited fortune on expensove lawsuits, one of which lasted unresolved for 33 years.
1752 ~ The palace is purchased by Robert Halkerstone, the burgh's clerk.
1840 ~ Culross palace passes to Captain James Kerr, who never lives in the palace but rents it out to separate families
1853 ~ After the death of Captain Kerr, the palace is sold for £140 to Alexander Luke. Later Miss Mary Luke inherits the palace but it quickly falls into a state of disrepair after many years of neglect.
Balgownie Road, Off A985
Culross is a town which stuck in the 17th century and is one of the most beautiful old towns we have ever visited. It has remained almost un-changed for at least 300 hundred years.
The town is crammed with old traditional Scottish buildings and winding cobbled streets.
In the centre of this amazing place is of course the palace itself, finished in a yellow musted colour, the interior - which unfortunately you cannot take photo's - is the real treasure, so a visit is an absolute must if you are interested in Scottish history.
Access to the palace is easy but parking can be a bit tricky around the winding cobbled streets, but there is more parking just outside of town.