MANY years ago, in Victorian Dunfermline, there was a man by the name of Joseph Paton who collected old furniture from Scotland’s disused castles.

He was an artist and sculptor who had a deep interest in Scottish history.

Among the items he possessed was an oak cabinet which he acquired from a soldier in Stirling.

It is said the cabinet had belonged to Stirling Castle, but it came into the possession of a poor woman in the town.

Having fallen on hard times and being evicted from her home, the woman put the cabinet out on the street to sell it as she had nowhere to put it.

It lay outside for a long time, with no-one paying it any attention, until one winter’s day an officer who was garrisoned at the castle walked by with his wife.

It was covered in snow but some of the carving could be seen.

They sought out the woman who expressed her delight that they were willing to buy it from her.

They named their price and she accepted the half-crown gratefully, although the husband pushed three shillings and sixpence into her hand.

A few days later, Paton heard of the transaction and went to Stirling to seek out the officer and the cabinet.

He found him and offered him £10 which was accepted.

It is believed the officer never went to the original owner and offered her any more money from his profitable transaction with Paton.

The cabinet was said to be pure in its design, and its execution by the cabinet maker exquisite.

Who made it, however, remains unknown, but he was a gifted craftsman.

Paton was an avid collector and in all had six oak cabinets from various royal households in his Dunfermline collection.

He had a large drawing room filled with specimens of furniture from the palaces of Dunfermline, Holyrood and Linlithgow, costing him a considerable amount of money.

Among his collection was a small neat chest of drawers that once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots and a bedstead that once stood in the royal palace at Dunfermline, the former ancient capital of Scotland.

Paton supplied Queen Victoria with a royal bedstead, a cradle in which her ancestors were rocked, and a chair she was anxious to obtain due to its historical significance.

Later in 1865, he became the Queen’s Limner in Scotland.

As for the cabinet, it is unknown how the woman down in her luck in Stirling got hold of such an exquisite piece of furniture and its whereabouts today is unknown.