Orchids Fit for a King

posted in: Photography | 18

A few days ago I wrote about the Festival of Orchids. Lord Mansfield (a keen orchid enthusiast) has hosted the festival for the 5th year in a row in the grounds of  his home at Scone Palace.


Scone Palace is  an extremely  historic location to have an orchid festival set on the banks of the River Tay.  Most of you have probably never heard of Scone Palace (pronounced sk ooo n). But many I’m sure will have heard about the Stone of Destiny (Stone of Scone/Coronation Stone).  Some say that its the actual biblical stone that Jacob had his vision of the stairway to heaven. Though most likely it had been the Royal Stone brought from Co Antrim in Northern Ireland to Scotland by Kenneth MacAlpin, the 36th King of Dalriada.

So, thanks to all at once, and to each one, Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone.
Macbeth – William Shakespeare  (Macbeth was crowned at Scone Palace)

 Festival of Orchids, Scone Palace

Odontocidium Hansueli Isler blooms on the Kings Corridor Scone Palace - Festival of Orchids
Odontocidium “Hansueli Isler” on the Kings Corridor – Festival of Orchids
Moot Hill in the palace grounds was where the stone used to be located. And all of the Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned on that stone until the 1296.   The English King Edward I otherwise known as Longshanks stole it as part of his booty and brought it back to London.
Houseplant blooms Phalenopsis Orange - Festival of Orchids
Phalenopsis Orange – Festival of Orchids
Even after the stone had been stolen Scottish Kings still were crowned  on the hill. The most famous being Robert The Bruce in 1306.  The last coronation to take place on Moot Hill was that of King Charles II  when he was declared King of the Scots in 1651.
Houseplant blooms Burrageara Jungle Monarch orchids at Scone Palace - Festival of Orchids
Burrageara Jungle Monarch  – Festival of Orchids
In the 1300’s a golden chair was made to hold the stone in Westminster Abbey and where all subsequent  British Monarchs (except Edward V and Edward VIII.)  have been crowned since.
Houseplant blooms Phalenopsis Montreux, Dendrobium Blue Beauty, Burrageara Nelly Isler - Festival of Orchids
left: Phalenopsis Montreux, centre Dendrobium Blue Beauty, right Burrageara Nelly Isler – Festival of Orchids
The last time the stone was used was in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on the seat. In fact it will be taken back to Westminster Abbey to be placed in the seat again for the next coronation.
Miltassia olmec Kono orchids - Festival of Orchids
Miltassia olmec Kono – Festival of Orchids
In 1950 some young Scottish Nationalists stole the stone from Westminster Abbey and drove north. As a result it remained hidden for 4 months until it was finally found in Arbroath Abbey draped in the Scottish Saltire.
Colmanara Massai Red orchid - Festival of Orchids
Colmanara Massai Red – Festival of Orchids
On St Andrews Day, 30 November 1996 the Stone was returned to Scotland with lots of pomp and ceremony. Today is on display at Edinburgh Castle alongside the Crown Jewels. But the question everyone asks to this day is “Is it the real stone”? 

No Crowns Just Hats!

Festival of Orchids display inside Scone Palace
Orchid display inside Scone Palace – Festival of Orchids. Hats by Elegance of Perth
One legend says that the Scots handed over the lid of the cesspit. Or maybe even a footstool stone belonging to Scone Palace to King Edward I rather than the real stone. Though no one knows for sure.
If you see the stone at Edinburgh Castle the guides will tell you that they don’t think they have the original stone  on display. There is a possibility that the real stone was hidden before King Edward arrived at Scone and it’s hidden somewhere in the grounds of the palace.
If the stone originally came from Ireland most likely it would have been basalt rather than the pink sandstone that now sits alongside the crown jewels in Edinburgh.
Festival of orchids display inside Scone Palace Perthshire
Inside Scone Palace – Festival of Orchids. Hats by Elegance of Perth
A few years ago a film was made about the robbery of the stone from London in 1950.  Unfortunately  in April 2010 thieves decided that they wanted the replica stone. In fact they proceeded to swap it with a another replica. But they didn’t get far though and it was found abandoned in the palace grounds.
Festival of orchids Scone Palace orchid display
No crowns today just hats from Elegance of Perth! – Festival of Orchids
So there you have it! A little bit of history as you have browsed some of the Festival of Orchids photos from inside the Palace. Cameras are not allowed to be used in the Palace but I was given special permission to take these photos.
Rosie Nixon
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Rosie is based in Perth, Perthshire as a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature in her own garden and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the Scottish outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at the only photographic gallery in Scotland - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

18 Responses

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    Caroline Gill

    Terrific post, Rosie. Amazing photos – wonderful burst of colour to brighten up a grey day.

    LOVED the history, too … and as it happens was watching 'A History of Scotland' with Neil Oliver on iPlayer last night, all about the Bruce, Stone of Destiny etc. … wonder if you watched it recently?

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    Curbstone Valley Farm

    I enjoyed the history of the stone Rosie. For some reason they didn't teach us about that in my English history classes in secondary school. I wonder why? 😛 I'm glad it was eventually returned to Scotland, where it belongs!

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    Interesting history lesson, Rosie! We do love your Scottish history (thanks to Braveheart), but I never knew there was so much intrigue involving a simple stone for monarchs to sit upon. Your post led me to google photos of this stone, which does appear to be ridiculously (IMO) placed under the seat of a chair. Or is it the real thing? How funny it would be if it has been hidden in Scotland all along!

    Anyway, those orchids are absolutely beautiful!

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    this Sassenach enjoyed the history lesson Rosie – and the hat amongst the orchids. What a superb location too.

    Laura x

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    Meredehuit ♥

    Rosie this is all so very fascinating to me. I come from Royal ancestory, among them King Henry I born in 1068 and King Edward I born 0924 and others… once you tap into Royalty you find many royals in your line. I also have many Scottish ancestors of which I am very proud, a sweet great great Grandmother who was a lacemaker for the Queen. So your post are delightful. Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to visiting again!

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    The table display with the hats and orchids is impressive. i enjoyed all the photos of the orchids, and thanks for the the interesting history lesson!

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    Rosie: Interesting history and gorgeous orchids! I love the setting of those orchids on the table, with your history lesson on the background, the tour of the orchids also had a touch of old time mystery 🙂

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    I knew nothing about the stone Rosie until I read this. It's a fun story and I enjoyed the glimpse inside the Palace and the flowers.

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    Autumn Belle

    Wow, I never knew about the stone. And what an important piece of historical stone, from Macbeth to Queen E! This is truly a grand palace and we are lucky to get a glimpse of the interiors and inner grounds.

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    Thank you for this delightful tour, Rosie. Loved reading a bit of Scottish history and your photos are gorgeous!

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    Scone Palace is so beautiful, with such a wonderful history to share. Thanks so much for the tour, Rosie!

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    April Lorier

    Wow! Mystery! Intriguing amongst the hats and flowers.
    Got any clue who will be the one to sit on Queen Elizabeth's stone for the next coronation?

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    Edith Hope

    Dear Rosie, What a fascinating piece of history. I have been most interested by your posting and have enjoyed the photographs too.

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    Hi Rosie – you must be a VIP to be given privileges of shooting those displays. But you have given them much justice as the compositions are beautiful and the orchids came out so very good. I sneaked through an orchid show yesterday very quickly because it is still office hours. I wont be able to see it as my weekend is full. I saw some of your orchids also here, although it is an ordinary affair and not laden with history, hehe. BTW, i was born in St Andrew's Day! I really love those indoor shots Rosie. thanks. (single quotes, hehe)

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    Hi again Rosie, an excellent post on your visit!

    I thought about going again this year (went a couple of years ago). It's is absolutley fantastic to see the orchids in the settings of the rooms… just beautiful as your photos show 😀

    Great bit of history for everyone too. Got similar pics back in the Spring when the daffs were out. Wishing you a good weekend ;-D

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    These orchids are really beautiful and unusual-looking (to me, anyway). It was an interesting history of the stone. I'd never heard of it before.

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