The Dining Room is the heart of the home. This exquisite room is still used by the family on special occasions as a place to gather and reconnect. In September 1842, during the time of the 4th Earl of Mansfield, this table welcomed two very special guests. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who had only been married two years, were embarking on their first ever tour of the Scottish highlands, a tour which was to become the start of a lifelong love affair with Scotland that still runs in the royal family today. The 4th Earl was given two years notice of the visit, and so set about preparing the palace.
Prior to her visit, the only way into Scone Palace was through the old stone gateway. But Queen Victoria would have been travelling with a large entourage of household staff and her carriages would never have fitted through the ancient, narrow archway. And so, the 4th Earl arranged for a new driveway to be built; the Queen’s Drive. The 4th Earl also had a bedroom suite fashioned for her on this floor, as well as commissioning the Chippendale chairs, which were carved by Ballingalls of Perth using oak from this very estate. The dining room table, which takes centre stage in the room, was carved from American Walnut and is late Georgian.
The dinner service laid out before you was used during her visit. This is the desert part of a sevencourse set, which was made by Royal Worcester in the 18th century and is known as the Chamberlain pattern after the artist who hand painted each piece. In addition to the porcelain, the 4th Earl took great care in selecting the glassware for her visit. The decision to use these smaller crystal glasses was a deliberate one on his part because it was well known that Queen Victoria would not tolerate drunks at dinner. And how long did she stay? Just one night. All that expense and preparation for one night. But at least she came.
Queen Victoria is not the only monarch to have visited or stayed at Scone. As the crowning place of Scottish kings, many monarchs have walked or slept within these walls. On January 1st 1651, King Charles II, who was the last king to be crowned at Scone, spent the night before his coronation in this room. Four hundred years ago, the modern palace you see today did not exist. In its place was an abbey, Scone Abbey, and this room, which overlaps the original abbey building, was known as the King’s Bedchamber. It was from here that King Charles II was led down the Long Gallery and out on to Moot Hill to be crowned.
As you look up and glance around the room, you’ll notice an array of beautiful artefacts. Like many an ancestral home of Scone’s calibre, it has a vast collection of paintings. Please ask your guide if you would like to know more about any of them. However, the most notable canvas in the room is The Denial of St Peter by Gerard Seghers. This, the largest painting, was painted in 1620 and is the oldest painting in the palace. Seghers was a follower of the Caravaggio tradition, which can be seen in his use of light and dark to create drama and composition.
Around the room you will also see a display of historical ivories. These were mostly collected by the 4th Earl, who like many Victorian gentlemen, loved to curate items of fascination or craftsmanship. This collection dates from the 17th century, and are either Italian, French, Bavarian or Flemish in origin.