Saturday, 5 October 2013

New Version of Friedrich Schiller's 'Mary Stuart'

We have received a very interesting communication from the Rococo Players in Gloucestershire.

Between Tuesday 26th. and Saturday 30th. November the company will be staging a new version by Peter Oswald of Friedrich Schiller's play 'Mary Stuart' to be performed tin the stunningly atmospheric 13th. century Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester

The play, on which Donizetti's opera Maria Stuarda is based was first performed in 1800. It is set in the final days on Mary's imprisonment in England and has been criticised, involving as it does, a meeting between May and her captor, Elizabeth 1. Notwithstanding some speculative theories to the contrary in every probability this was a meeting which just did not happen. The concept does though make for good drama.

It would  appears Peter Oswald now wraps round the meeting a text which covers National Security, International Terrorism and questions about the rights and responsibilities of those in power.

Certainly makes for an evening of theatre

Tickets (£15, £12 concession) can be purchased on line at telephone 01242 522852. There are discounts for early booking.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Titian Portrait of Mary?

Rediscovered Portrait of Mary?

Has a new portrait of Mary by no less an artist that Titian come to light?

Below an image of the painting and the reverse on which is clearly legible the words " Titianus F(ecit). 


Assuming the portrait is of Mary she is obviously somewhat older and could not be a life painting.

Titian lived from 1488 to 1576 and the painting has been dated to 1574 and suggested that it was commissioned by King Henry 111 of France when he visited Titian and when he seems to have commissioned quite a number of portraits. If this is correct this would make Mary 33 and Titian in his late eighties. It has also been stated that there was communication by letter between Mary and Francis at this time .

Anyone able to confirm or throw further light on this? I have certainly found reference to letters to Francis penned by Mary at Tutberry in 1569; said to be 'written without light' and smuggled out of the Castle although intercepted and not received, (by this time though Titian would be dead) and also of remonstrations by Francis to Elizabeth regarding the strictness of Mary's confinement.

Assuming this to be the case what image of Mary might Francis have passed to Titian for him to work on?

My attention has also been drawn to a book "The Castles of Mary, Queen of Scots" by Charles Mackie of 1835 which (page 53) contains the following;

"I thought I had done very well by this transaction, until I saw in the Morning Chronicle ,a flaming puff, stating that "an original portrait of Mary Queen of Scotland the undoubted work of Titian, value one thousand guineas was to be seen at No 14 Pall Mall price of admission 2s.6d"

The bait took Mr. F... put £300 or £400 in his pocket by the exhibition and sold the portrait for £700 or £800."

Could this be the same portrait? Even if it is doesn't of course in itself prove the genuineness of the portrait.

The book is out of copyright and can be downloaded free on

Lots of background work on the provenance of the portrait still to be done - obviously for the experts but if genuine a most interesting historical portrait.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Carberry Tapestry

We have recently had an inquiry regarding a tapestry depicting Mary, Queen of Scots'  surrender to the Confederate Lords at Carberry.

The enquirer advises that he is the owner of such a tapestry and mentions that a similar one is on display at Mary, Queen of Scots' House in Jedburgh.

He goes on to say that on the face of things his might appear to be older mentioning that it is rather faded, also that some of the stitches are missing and that there are certain differences between the two particularly perhaps in regard to the faces.

He wondered as to the history of the tapestry and which if either might be the original.

Below images of the two tapestries, the top one, the one at Jedburgh.

After contacting Mary, Queen of Scots House we received a reply from Zilla Oddy of Scottish Borders Council, Museum Services who wrote: (the reply reproduced with her consent)

Unfortunately we don't have very much information about our tapestry, other than that its title is "Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots to the Confederate Lords at Carberry Hill in the year 1567".  A note on the catalogue sheet says that the picture from which this tapestry was taken was first published on 1st May 1843 by Mary Parks, London and Paris, and engraved by J G Mure.  A label with documents concerning this tapestry mentions Bowyer Gallery, Golden Square, London and A Hauser, Boulevard des Italiens, Paris. It was sewn by Agnes Wilson (nee Shanks) of Hamilton

I understand that this type of tapestry was produced in quantity in kit form, so in a sense there is neither an original nor a copy, but many copies taken from an original painting.

Delighted to hear (via our website) from anyone who might have any more information on these tapestries or on the original painting.


8th. August 2013

Further to the above lots of responses.

One of our members Marie Macpherson has managed to track down the original of the painting which it would appear was for sale in Canada in 2011 and at seemingly a very reasonable price of $550 

The painting measuring 22" x 30" would appear to have been by Alexander Chisholm (1792-1847) who was a Scottish painter of historical subjects and portraits. He studied in Edinburgh and came to London in 1818. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. Many of his subjects were taken from 17th century English history. This painting among his most noted is indeed entitled "The Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots. To the Confederate Lords of Carberry Hill in the year 1567".

Member Anne Gwynn has mentioned that there is apparently a similar tapestry in the Hilton Hotel in Dunkeld in Perthshire  it would appear to bear out Zilla's statement (as also confirmed by member Linda Root) that these were produced in kit form.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dundonald and Crossraguel

Recently a very successful Scottish Branch outing to Dundonald Castle and Crossraguel Abbey in Ayrshire.

Not the destinations we had intended but circumstances rather conspired against us . The intention had been a visit to Rowallan Castle and to Dean Castle in Kilmarnock with their associations with Mary. However access problems to Rowallan and literally only a few days beforehand intimation that Dean Castle was closed to all after masonry fell from the peel tower and the site considered dangerous.

Full credit for Society member Ann McMillan for reorganising everything at very short notice and as seems commonly to happen in these circumstances everything went so smoothly and a most excellent day out enjoyed by all.

In fairness not too much to do with Mary, although she may have visited Crossraguel when she stayed at Dunure Castle on her progress to the west and south west of Scotland in 1563.

Dundonald much more associated with King Robert 11 of Scotland who probably rebuilt it on his accession to the throne in 1371, almost certainly his favourite castle and where he died in 1390.

Crossraguel a finely preserved mediaeval monastery of the Cluniac Order which emerged virtually unscathed from the Reformation.

Two excellent guides with lots of background information from Ann herself. Good company, good meals and a splendid day out.

To view images of the day; -

above; Looking down from the Gatehouse at the Abbey to the Cloisters

below; Ann hold court in the sedilia and three members look on enrapt.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Friars in Haddington

Jean Fairbairn and Isobel Brown have arranged a most interesting visit to Haddington on 13th.
July and am sure we are all looking forward to that - fuller details on the website

Meantime though Jean has also brought to our attention a talk which will be taking place  in Holy Trinity Church (below) on the Monday immediately prior to out visit (8th. July at 7.30 p.m.). Holy Trinity Church is situated on the site of the Franciscan Friary at Haddington (the first 'Lamp of Lothian')

The talk is being given by Dr. Colman O Clabaigh OSB, an expert on mediaeval monasticism who has published widely on the Franciscan mission to Britain and Ireland and who has agreed to visit Haddington while in Scotland on a lecture tour.

His lectures will be illustrated with reference to the extensive remains of Franciscan friaries in Ireland where more evidence of both the friars and their activities have survived as the Franciscans built their friaries to common plans and lived a common rule of life.

Admission £5, payable at the door.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Mary, Queen of Scots Statue

Look in on Reporting Scotland on the BBC Television on Friday evening 10th May to learn about the proposed statue to be erected to Mary, Queen of Scots, and the exhibition at the Scottish Museum in Edinburgh.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Poetry at Carberry

Carberry Tower Hotel
A very enjoyable afternoon last Sunday at Carberry Tower Hotel near Musselburgh - certainly something a bit different for the Society.

Among Mary's many talents was a certain ability to compile verse and a number of these works are included in the Society's publication "Poetry for a Queen"

Most of course were in 16th. century French or in Latin and these have been very sensitively translated and set out in Robin Bell's book "Bittersweet within my Heart"  published in 1992.

Mary's own works and a number of others relating to Mary were enthusiastically recited, pondered over and discussed by Society members. Some of the readings were in the original French or Latin - some on broad Scots! Also greatly appreciated were fine renditions on the hotel's grand piano by Society member Lilian Cameron of some musical pieces of the period

To add to the completeness of the afternoon a fine room afforded us in this historic hotel and an afternoon tea per excellence.

Subsequent to the meeting I received from Society member Linda Root (who has written the book "The First Marie and the Queen of Scots") of the following poem written by Sir William Kirckaldy of Grange in February 1571 during the siege of Edinburgh Castle.

Kirkcaldy of Grange
Perhaps not the greatest of works poetically but a most interesting one historically.

Kirkcaldy had converted to the reformed faith and had fought on the Confederate side at the Siege of Leith and was also in their ranks at Carberry - indeed he was one proposed to settle the matter in the chivalric fashion of 'trail by champions' and to fight a duel with Bothwell - what an interesting contest that would have been.

However he changed sides and became the leader of the Queen's Party holding Edinburgh Castle in her name (at the time of the writing of this poem).

Interesting his philippic invective against the Reformed Church, his former allies and all who now fail to lend full allegiance to Mary.

Ane Ballat of the Captain of the Castle

At the castell of Edinburch
Upon the bank baith green and rouch
As mine alne I lay
With paper, pen and ink in hand,
Musing, as I could understand
Of the suddane decay
That unto this puir nation
Appeirandly does come
I fand our Congregatioun
Was cause of all an dsome,
whose authors, instructors,
Has blindit them so lang,
That blameless and shameless
Both rich and puir they wrang

These wicked vain venerians,
Proud poisonit Pharisians,
With their blind guides but grace,
Has causit the puir country
Assist unto their traitory
Their prince1 for to displace:    
For tene I cannot testify
How wrangously they wrocht
When they their prince1 so piteously
In prison strang had brocht,
Abusit her, accusit her
With serpent wordis fell
             of schavels2 and rebels,                
Like hideous hounds of hell.
1= Mary, Queen of Scots        2 rogues

These despard birds of Belial
Thoucht not bot to advance themsell
Frea they had her doun thrown
With error and hypocrisy
To commit open traitory,
As clearly now is known:
Bot the great God omnipotent
That secret thochts does search,
Releivit has that innocent
Out of their rage so fierce
Providit and guidit
Her to an uncouth land
Where wander and slander
With enemies name she fand

Sen time of which ejectioun
This country is come in subjectioun
And daily servitude,
With men of weir in garrison
To the commons oppressioun
By slicht and Soudron blood,
Whose craft, ingyne and policy
Full ready bent is ever
By treason under amity
Our nobles to dissever
Some rubbing, some buddin
Their study they employ
That slichtly, unrichtly
They may this realm enjoy.

This guiding gart great grief arise
In me, whaq nae ways could devise
To mend this greatr mischance:
As as I arguit all the case
I heard ane say within this place:
"With help of God and France
I shall within a little space,
Thy dolours all to-dress;
With help of Christ thou shallo, or Pace
Thy kindly prince possess
Detrusers, refusers
Of her authority
Nae carand or sparand
Shall either die or flee.

Though God in his just judgment
Thole them to and punishment
To her, their supreme heid
Yet, sen they were participanty
With her, and she now penitent
Richt surely they may dried
As wicked scourges has been seen
Get for the scourging hire,
When sinners repents from the spleen
The scourge cast in the fire:
Sae Morton by fortune
May get the same reward
His boasting, nor posting
I do not regard.

Baith him and all their company,
Though England wad them fortify,
I care them nocjht a leek
For all their great munitioun
I am in sure tuitioun
This hauld3 it shall me keep                           
My realm and prince's liberty
Therein I shall defend
When traitors shall be hangit hie
Or mak some shamefulend.
Assure them I cure them
Ev'n as they do deserve
Their treason,this season
It shall not make me swerve.
3 Castle
For I have men and meat eneuch
They know I am ane tuilyeour teuch                               
And will be richt soon grievit
When they have tint as mony teeth
As they did at the siege of Leith
They shall be fan to leave it
Then wha I pray you shall be boun
Their tinsall to advance
Or gie sic compositioun
As they gat then of France
Thus splitm beguilit
They will but get the glaiks5                               
Come they here thir twa year
They shall not miss their paiks6                             
 4 'a bonny fighter'     5 trickery   6 deserved punishment

As for my neighbours Edinbruch toun,
What shall be their part, up or dounn
I can no yet declare;
But ane thing I mak manifest
Gif they me ony thing molest
Their booths shall be made bare
Gif fire may their building sack
Or bullet beat them doun,
They sahll not fail that end to mak
the stairs made in this toun
Sae use them and chuse them
What part they will ensue
Forsake me or tak me
They shall drink as they brew.

He bade me rise and muse nae mair,
But paray to God baith late and air
To save this noble ludge
Which is, in all prosperity
And likewise in adversity
Our prince's plain refuge
Therefore all true men I exort
That ye with me accord
That we all, baith in earnest and sport
Ask at the living Lord
That hangit or mangit
Mot ilk man mak his end
Wha duly and truly
Wad nocht this house defend.

Ronald Morrison