As I have already mentioned, Book Week Scotland brought me all sorts of invitations to visit primary schools recently. Two of those schools were in Linlithgow, a lovely town half-way between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It has a distinctive church with a spiky metal spire, and next to that is a medieval palace! I always see these two impressive buildings from the train as I pass, but it’s a rare treat to be able to stop and have a look around.

This handsome and distinctive building is St Michael's Church.

This handsome and distinctive building is St Michael’s Church.

St Michael’s Church dates from the 15th century and is the largest surviving late Medieval  “burgh kirk” in Scotland. The aluminium spire replaces a stone crown similar to the one atop St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, and it wasn’t universally popular with the locals when it was added in 1964.

Linlithgow palace

Next to St Michael’s is Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Scottish King James V and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots. It is also a late Medieval building and stands in beautiful grounds. A fire destroyed the roof of the palace and the interiors in 1746. The palace is open to the public and the “peel” or park surrounding it runs down to the shores of Linlithgow Loch, where you can go sailing in summer.

Linlithgow Loch in summer.

Linlithgow Loch in summer.

Doesn’t it look inviting? Sadly, it wasn’t looking quite so pretty in December. I’ll just have to make another trip when it gets warm again!

Mary Queen of Scots

Just along from the palace on the High Street is the Annet House Museum, where a bronze statue of Mary, Queen of Scots stands in the terraced garden. The High Street has lots of historic buildings, including Annet House which was built in 1787 as a wealthy merchant’s family home.

Madding Crowd logo

When I arrived in Linlithgow for a recent school visit I walked down from the train station to the High Street. My first port of call was a lovely bookshop called Far from the Madding Crowd (named after a Thomas Hardy novel). Its owner, Jill Pattle, showed me all around the shop (full of beautiful crafts as well as books) and we went downstairs to the children’s section where I signed a beam on the ceiling with a gold pen! She has asked lots of children’s authors to do the same, so I felt very important!

Low Port Primary

Next we went to Low Port Primary School, which is an impressive Victorian building that used to be a senior grammar school. It has pointy turrets and handsome stonework, making it seem very like something out of Harry Potter! I was ushered to a modern addition at the back of the school which looks out onto Linlithgow Loch. There in a big, comfortable classroom I read stories to 62 pupils (P2 and P3) and then shared some videos of Pink the Musical on their interactive white board. By the end, they were singing along!

I’ve now visited Low Port, Linlithgow Bridge and Springfield Primary Schools, and they are all fantastic! Many thanks to Jill for suggesting me for Book Week Scotland this year. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I hope to be back in Linlithgow before too long!

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