The foundation charter of Säusenstein Abbey is dated 19 September 1336, when the founder, the nobleman Eberhard of Wallsee, granted the site and a substantial endowment to the Cistercian monks of Wilhering Abbey.
The abbey suffered from the Turkish invasions of the 16th century, particularly in connection with the Siege of Vienna in 1526. Although forethought on the part of abbots saved many of the abbey's valuables by sending them for safekeeping elsewhere in advance of the incursions, the community was unable to escape the punishing taxes of the war period, and descended into poverty: one abbot was nearly arrested for failure to pay taxes. During the Reformation, another abbot absconded with the cashbox.
The abbey survived nevertheless and from the later 17th century onwards regained morale and wealth. The premises were rebuilt, and the study of theology and philosophy flourished.
However, the rationalist reforms of the Emperor Joseph II brought about the dissolution of the abbey on 21 May 1789. The abbot of Seitenstetten was appointed administrator and a number of Säusenstein's treasures were removed to Seitenstetten. The buildings of Säusenstein were used as a military hospital by Napoleon's troops during their occupation of Austria, and the buildings were badly damaged by French excesses, resulting among other things in the almost total destruction in about 1801 of the church by arson. Further damage occurred in 1805 and 1809.
It was about this time that the abbey began to be known locally as 'Schloss' Säusenstein.
On the administrator's death in 1812, Säusenstein was taken over by the state, and was sold off in 1825 into private ownership. More destruction and neglect of the buildings followed, and significant demolition took place in 1856, including the loss of two sides of the cloisters, with the construction of the Austrian Western Railway across the site.
The last private owners sold it to the German government. Between 1939 and 1945 it served as an experimental agricultural institution. After the end of World War II Säusenstein lay in the Russian Zone and was occupied by Soviet troops for 10 years. When they left in 1955 the Austrian Forestry Commission took the site over, but paid little attention to the preservation of the buildings.
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.