A special guided tour of one of Scotland’s most notorious historic crime scenes, followed by tea and a home-baked muffin in our new-look cafe. We can offer all this on Tuesday, 22 February. At 11am that day, senior steward Ross Blevins will mark the anniversary of the murder of William, eighth earl of Douglas by King James II back in 1452 with an informative guided tour. It will take in all the places linked to this dark deed and promises to provide an enthralling insight into an event which changed history.
The tour will reveal why the monarch was so worried about the Black Douglases, examine the clues as to why the feast ended up with the death of a nobleman, and look at the terrible consequences that followed. Ross will also explain why part of the castle grounds are now known as the Douglas Gardens.
After the tour many people will doubtless want to warm up with a hot drink and something to eat. The great news is that the Unicorn Café has just reopened after an extensive refurbishment. Attractive high-backed wooden benches, plus new chairs and tables, have been introduced, making the café more comfortable and giving it a spacious feel.
I suspect, though, that the first thing that will catch people’s eye is the big oak table laden with cakes, shortbreads and other delights. What makes these particularly special is that they come straight from the new bakery our caterers, benugo, have just opened at the castle. This harks back to the days of the royal court when the royal kitchens turned out cakes and sweet treats for kings, queens and courtiers.
For bakery staff, Narinder Kalsi and Fiona Acheson, the day starts at 5.30am when they begin preparing a huge range of goodies for both Stirling and Edinburgh castles. The operation will eventually expand to provide for our cafes at Fort George and Urquhart Castle too. That’s going to be quite a job considering what they are already cooking up each day – including lemon drizzle, Bramley apple, and orange and almond loaves, plus chocolate fudge and carrot cakes. Then there are 80 portions each of millionaire’s shortbread, flapjacks and chocolate brownies and 120 each of blueberry, raspberry and double chocolate muffins. That’s for Stirling alone, and the quantities will go up when the summer season starts. In the meantime I’m doing my bit by tucking into some of their wonderful baking.
Gillian Macdonald, Executive Manager