Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Seton Palace

A few fragments of carved sandstone are all that remain of the grandeur that was once Seton Palace. The Seton family had lived here near Longniddry from 1066 until 1715 when they lost their lands after the Jacobite rebellion. The palace was left to fall into decay until it was demolished in 1790. These stone fragments, memorials and evocations of what had once been one of the most impressive and magnificent Renaissance houses in Scotland, have been gathered together in a corner of the churchyard behind where the palace once stood.

The greatest building work was done by George, the 6th Lord Seton although it was his son also George, the 7th Lord and famous supporter of Mary Queen of Scots who re roofed the old hall and built the royal apartments for which the palace became famed. So luxurious, so convenient and so secure, James V and his wife Mary of Guise, Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, Charles I and Charles II all held court at Seton Palace.

In the houses of the rich and powerful armorial panels were traditionally placed in prominent positions above doorways and fireplaces. This escutcheon depicts the Seton arms before they were created Earls of Winton in 1600. The motto reads ZIT - FORWARDT, 'Yet forward'.

These arms also date to before 1660, but a small escutcheon was added in that year to mark the elevation of lord Seton to 1st Earl of Winton. Below the arms is an inscription of a quote from Ovid, INVIA-VIRTIVTI-VIA-NVLLA, 'No path to hard to virtue.'

The beautiful strap-work on this lintel shows the initials GS - AH under a coronet. These are the initials of George Seton, 3rd Earl of Winton and Anne Hay, his first wife who were married in 1609.

This triangular pediment once surmounted one of the windows on the facade of the palace has a heraldic shield beneath a coronet, with the arms of Elizabeth Maxwell who was George Seton, the 3rd Earl's second wife, they married in 1628.

George Seton, 5th Earl of Winton, the last member of the family to live at Seton Palace, died in exile at Rome in 1749.