Falkland Palace & Garden teacher information

Falkland Palace was a country residence of the Stuart kings and queens. The palace was used as a lodge when the royal family hunted deer and wild boar in the forests of Fife. Mary, Queen of Scots spent some of the happiest days of her life here ‘playing the country girl in the woods and parks’.

Built between 1501 and 1541 by James IV and James V, Falkland Palace replaced earlier castle and palace buildings dating from the 12th century. The roofed south range contains the Chapel Royal, and the East Range contains the King’s and Queen’s rooms, both restored by the Trust with period features, reproduction 16th-century furnishings, painted ceilings and royal arms.

Within the grounds is the original real tennis court, the oldest in Britain, built in 1539. The garden, designed and built by Percy Cane between 1947 and 1952, contains herbaceous borders enclosing an attractive wide lawn with many varieties of shrubs and trees and a small herb garden. The palace still belongs to Her Majesty the Queen but is maintained and managed by the National Trust for Scotland in its role as Deputy Keeper.

A school visit to Falkland Palace offers excellent opportunities for cross-curricular work and engaging with the Curriculum for Excellence. Choose from one of our two tour options:

An exciting Living History programme, based on the visits of Mary, Queen of Scots to Falkland Palace around 1565:

  • led by Trust staff 
  • meet ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ 
  • help prepare a feast in the royal bakehouse
  • dress in period costumes
  • make a medicinal scent pouch to take home 
  •  play real tennis on one of the world’s oldest tennis courts

Self-guided tour:

  • no additional input from Trust Education team
  • pupils can visit the palace and gardens 
  • teacher-led visits must also be booked, both for safety reasons and to allow your pupils access to the palace.

Whether booking a Trust- or teacher-led programme, please ensure that your pupils are supervised at all times within the palace and the gardens.

Possible topics

  • The Stuarts
  • Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Renaissance architecture

Resources for schools

  • Education room – please book for exclusive use during your class visit.
  • Falkland Palace resource pack (can be downloaded)
  • Mary, Queen of Scots resource pack (can be downloaded)
  • Illustrated guidebook (for sale at Falkland Palace)
  • Burgh Tour sheet (available on request)

Planning your class visit

  • To book: please contact Falkland Palace on 01337 857397 or falklandpalace@nts.org.uk to make a booking.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Falkland Palace is open for educational visits from 1 March–31 October.
  • Living History visits are available from Tuesday–Thursday; self-guided tours are welcome seven days a week.
  • Maximum class size: 35 with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult to 10 pupils; larger groups by prior arrangement only.
  • Access: we regret that there is no access to the palace for wheelchair users, and, because of the number of steps within this historic building, there is limited access for visitors with mobility impairment. We want to ensure that all your pupils have an enjoyable visit so if your pupils have extra requirements, please do contact us to discuss them. We will do our utmost to accommodate you.
  • Parking: pupils may be dropped off at the palace gates and there is a car park in Falkland (turn up Back Wynd next to the Bank of Scotland and the car park is on the left). Large coaches will not be able to access the car park and can park outside the palace.
  • Toilets: these are located in the palace garden. There are accessible toilets in the free car park, a short distance from the palace – palace staff will provide directions.
  • Refreshments: there are no refreshments for sale at Falkland Palace. Pupils are welcome to bring packed lunches for a picnic in the grounds, or in the Education Room if it is wet.
  • The site has been risk assessed. Teachers are expected to prepare their own risk assessment for the visit.

Charges

  • Living History Programme: £2.50 per pupil for schools with Trust educational membership; £5 per pupil for schools without Trust educational membership.
  • Self-guided visit: there is no admission charge for schools with Trust educational membership. Non-members are welcome but there is an admission charge of £2 per pupil.
  • Accompanying adults are admitted free.
  • All class teachers are encouraged to make a free preparatory visit to the site.

During your class visit

  • On arrival: your pupils will be met at the palace gate by a guide, who will lead them to the Education Room.
  • During the Living History programme, school groups will be led by Trust guides in the palace. Please note that school groups are not guide-led during self-guided visits.
  • The Living History programme begins at 10am and lasts for 4 hours, ending at 2pm.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • Pupils do not need to bring any materials for their visit.
  • Shop: pupils are welcome to visit the shop, in small groups and with teacher supervision.
Download

This pack contains some activities that might be useful following a class visit to Falkland Palace.

Download

This is a downloadable pack with further information and related activities about Mary, Queen of Scots. Please note that some of the information may now be out of date.