Torphichen Preceptory is a church which comprises the remains of the preceptory (headquarters) of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in Scotland. It was built in the 1140s around an existing church, possibly of early Christian origin. During the 13th century the Preceptory was expanded, and the buildings which still stand were first erected. The complex included a cruciform church, with a nave, central tower, transepts and choir, whose tower and transepts remain, and a number of domestic buildings including a hospital. The church was extended again in the 15th century, and a cloister completed, of which only the foundations remain. Very unusually, this was situated on the north side of the church.
After the Reformation, the nave of the Preceptory church was converted for use as the parish kirk, with the rest of the buildings falling into disrepair. Nevertheless, the surviving crossing of the church (below the central tower) retains some of the best-preserved late 12th-early 13th century masonry in Scotland, with refined architectural detail. In 1756 the nave and domestic buildings were demolished, and a new T-plan kirk built. The kirk is furnished with early 19th Century box pews and galleries. The remnants of the Preceptory were used as a courthouse for a number of years.
A 'sanctuary stone' in the kirkyard marks the centre of an 'area of sanctuary' that once extended one Scots mile around. The east and west 'sanctuary stones' still stand in their original positions. It has been suggested that these stones are of much earlier origin than the medieval Preceptory, possibly being related to the important Neolithic henge and burial mound at Cairnpapple Hill, to the east.
The large kirkyard has a fine collection of 17th–18th century headstones, with much intriguing 'folk art', including symbols of mortality, tools representing professions etc.References:
Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.
In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.
During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.
In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.
The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.