At the palace’s peak, during the time of Queen Victoria’s visit, the palace employed some forty members of staff, 28 servants inside the house and others tending the grounds and stables. It’s not hard to imagine the palace bustling with activity prior to and during the royal visit.
Although the house already housed an impressive collection of artwork, furniture and porcelain, the 4th Earl set about making improvements and additions to his home in anticipation of the royal party.
In August 1842, the 4th Earl wrote to his mother about his feelings surrounding the impending visit. He wrote, ‘…although as you may easily imagine that a Royal visit this year will be very inconvenient, yet it would be perfectly inhospitable for me to decline…I have written to the Duchess (of Buccleuch, the Queen’s lady-in-waiting) that I shall be proud to receive Her Majesty, and have begun my arrangements immediately’. However, the 4th Earl had to go about making his arrangements away from the public eye. In his letter to his mother he continues, ‘My difficulty is being obliged to keep the visit secret or I could do ten times a s much> I have been obliged to take Ballingall (the cabinet-maker) into my confidence otherwise my furniture would not have been ready’.
This bedroom was part of a suite that was secretly prepared for her visit. The Queen had requested ground floor apartments because she preferred not to sleep on upper floors. This room was part of a three-room suite especially created and furnished for her. The three south-facing rooms consisted of a bedroom, a boudoir for her and a dressing room for Prince Albert. Today the rooms have been rearranged. This room, which has been recreated to give you a glimpse into the interior layout and style of the room was actually her boudoir. The original bedroom, which is now the audiovisual room, was the actual room in which she slept. The 4th Earl arranged for the room to be decorated in modern colours and incorporating Scottish motifs that were popular at the time. The bed was lavishly furnished with hangings and curtains that were specially made for the room. This room though, which was designated as her boudoir, has a hidden secret. Behind the bookcase is a door which lead to the Queen’s own private lavatory. The third room, Prince Albert’s Dressing Room, now forms part of a series of conference rooms.
Of most note in this room is a rare George I Scottish Silver-Framed Dressing-Mirror. Believed to be the work of Colin McKenzie of Edinburgh in 1722, it is understood to be the only Scottish silver wall mirror of this size currently known, and so therefore, is extremely rare. There is only one other recorded silver Scottish mirror from the early 18th century, a smaller table mirror, which was sold in London in 1982.