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Historic Scottish estate with links to Mary, Queen of Scots opens for visitors after ten-year restoration


By François Clouet - YQExprz3sIBJ8A at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Brucefield Estate, in Forestmill, is reopening after a ten-year restoration project. The estate was originally owned by the Stewarts of Rosyth, the family who welcomed Mary, Queen of Scots, back to Scotland. 

Brucefield Estate is now owned by biologist Victoria Bruce-Winkler, who inherited it from her late father in 2012. She has undertaken a ten-year conservation project that focused on preserving local wildlife and restoring original plants. The estate includes over 400 hectares of oak, Scots-Pine, and birch, as well as farmland. 

Bruce-Winkler has also restored Slackbrae, a forester’s cottage on the estate, using sustainable methods and materials. It will be available to rent for self-catering accommodation soon. 

Mary, Queen of Scots, spent most of her childhood and adolescence in France. To honour the Auld Alliance, she was engaged to the Dauphin at the age of five, and she was sent to live at the French court at six. They married in April 1558, when Francis was 14 and Mary was 15. Sadly he died in December of 1560, leaving Mary a widow. 

Mary remained in France for nearly nine months after Francis’ death. However, given that they had no children together, she had no role at the French court, and she had her own nation to rule. She returned to Scotland in August 1561, landing in Leith, a port in Edinburgh. 

Different Scottish nobles welcomed the beautiful queen back to her kingdom, including the Stewarts of Rosyth. She would be forced to abdicate the Scottish throne in favour of her infant son in 1567. Her reign in Scotland was marked by turbulent politics and religious tensions between Catholics and Protestants and two troubled and short marriages.

Mary, Queen of Scots, remains a popular figure in Scottish and royal history, though, and many visitors seek out properties connected to her. 

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Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com