Showcasing a duke’s bold plan for the Scottish palace that never was...

27 March 2023
Front view of the model
A magnificent 200-year-old model of a nobleman’s grand redesign project is going on display following restoration.

The elaborate prototype of Dalkeith Palace in Midlothian, built by Scott Monument designer George Meikle Kemp for the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, has been in storage since 2003.

The wooden model, which previews ambitious plans that never materialised, will be displayed at Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum in Lanarkshire, close to Kemp’s birthplace. The organisers of the exhibition says that it is intended as a tribute to a local hero, who died mysteriously in 1844,  prior to the opening of Sir Walter Scott’s memorial in Edinburgh.

The palace plans

Kemp spent two years building his intricate Dalkeith Palace mock-up for architect William Burn, who led the Baronial Revival that is widely seen as Scottish architecture’s golden age.  

Burn had hoped to create a Jacobean-style home that was bigger and more elaborate than the original Palace, completed in 1711 and recognised as one of Scotland’s grandest classical houses. But his bold plans proved too ambitious, even for a highly influential landowner, though Burn did leave his mark, creating the King’s Gates, the head gardener’s house, a kitchen wing and a majestic orangery. 

The story of the model

Kemp’s model, completed in 1832, was displayed in the vestibule at Dalkeith Palace for 60 years before languishing, dismantled, in the Palace basement until 1993.

Back view of the model

Content continues after advertisements

An eight-year restoration project, begun in 1993, led to comeback displays at Dalkeith and the Buccleuch mansion at Bowhill, near Selkirk, before a return to storage in 2003. Lanarkshire cabinetmaker Patrick Baxter, who led the project, has spent the past two months preparing the model, which is up to 80cm high in places and 2 metres wide.

Cabinetmaker Patrick Baxter cleaning the model

The model is on display from 1 April to 3 September.

Biggar Museum, 156 High Street, Biggar ML12 6DH; e-mail; website.