Mary, Queen of Scots statue at Annet House
Mary, Queen of Scots statue at Annet House

Linlithgow was once once one of the most important towns in Scotland, with one of Scotland's most historic churches and an opulent Royal Palace where Mary, Queen of Scots was born. That rich history is remembered in the Annet House Museum on High Street, a short stroll from the gates of Linlithgow Palace.

The museum is set in a historic merchant's house, built in 1787 for the Bartholomew family. The house was later used as a police station and Civil Defence headquarters. The top floor is devoted to the history of trades in Linlithgow over the centuries, including linen making, leatherworking, distilling, chemical manufacture, and textiles.

One of the museum highlights are the flags of the Scotch Brigade, one of Scotland's oldest infantry regiments. Another exhibit tells the story of Mary, Queen of Scots and her connection to Linlithgow. This exhibit, though small, is fascinating, for it shows how attitudes towards Mary have changed over the centuries.

Another interesting exhibit is a scale model of the ornate Linlithgow Cross, the town drinking fountain designed in 1807 by James Haldane to replace an earlier 1628 fountain.

Model of the Linlithgow Cross
Model of the Linlithgow Cross

The Rigg, Linlithgow's Secret Garden

Behind the house is a sizeable garden known as The Rigg, spread over three terraces. The garden has been restored to show how it might have looked when Annet House was first built, with fruit, herbs, ands vegetables that the Bartholomew family might have grown here. The garden was a multi-purpose space, with an ice house for cold storage, cisterns for collecting water, herbs for medicinal use and cooking, and a stable area for livestock. Among the plants grown today in The Rigg are blackberries, potatoes, hops, lavender, heartsease, and lovage.

At the top of the garden is a statue of Mary, Queen of Scots, looking across the rooftops of the town where she was born. Mary's statue looks over a deliciously difficult maze for children to explore. The statue was sculpted by Allan Herriot as a memorial to Tom McGowran OBE, who helped found the museum.

Another part of the garden is the Mary, Queen of Scots Bower, grown with box plants from the island of Inchmahome, where Mary was imprisoned in 1547 after her army's defeat at Pinkie. Mary, then aged 4, is said to have planted trees and gardens at Inchmahome Priory.

During the 19th century visitors to Inchmahome Priory were shown a bower and gardens said to have been planted by Mary. It seems much more likely that the gardens were planted to attract tourists, and had no direct connection to the young queen. Be that as it may, the Bower at Annet House is planted from the bower on Inchmahome, whatever its origins.

The museum holds regular special exhibits based on Linlithgow's people and heritage.


Our family came to Linlithgow to see the Palace, like most tourists. We saw the brown tourist sign to Annet House and decided to see what it was all about. Though small, the museum is a delight. There's a lot of history packed into the 18th century house, and the gardens are a beautiful oasis of colour and quiet.

Admission is free but a donation is welcome. As of this writing the museum is normally open from Easter through September.

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About Annet House
Address: 143 High Street, Linlithgow, Lothian, Scotland, EH49 7EJ
Attraction Type: Museum
Location: On the High Street, a very short walk from Linlithgow Palace. Paid parking beside the Palace entrance.
Website: Annet House
Location map
OS: NT000770
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express

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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

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