Friday, 26 August 2011

Lord James by Catherine Hermany-Vielle

I have just been reading an article in this week’s ‘Southern Reporter’ regarding a  book launch in Melrose.

This is Catherine Hermany-Vielle’s  book “Lord James”, a best seller in France now translated into English. The English version was actually launched at several venues last autumn but the Scottish Borders launch which was to have taken place at Abbotsford House had to be postponed because of bad weather.

The author who is French was the winner of the Prix Femina in 1981 for her book’ Le Grand Vizir de la nuit’ and is a Chevalier de la L├ęgion d'honneur. She now resides in Virginia, United States.

The novelised history which was launched by Burt’s Hotel in Melrose in association with Mason’s Bookshop Melrose deals with life of James Hepburn the 1V Earl of Bothwell, Mary’s third husband.

It is fair to say the book takes a much more favourable view of Bothwell and his motives than most accredited histories stressing how he alone of the nobles  remained completely loyal to the Queen at all times.
It is unfortunate though to see history twisted in the newspaper report which states “When a month after their marriage Mary was imprisoned by Elizabeth 1, Bothwell fled to Bergen now in  Norway, then part of Denmark before being arrested as a pirate and jailed”

This is course to completely overlook Mary’s period of imprisonment in Lochleven  and while it is true that Bothwell was originally arrested as a suspected pirate his continued detention had perhaps, more to do with Anna Thronsden his common law wife and his value to the Danish King, Frederick 11 in negotiations both with Moray and his successors as Regents of Scotland as well as with Elizabeth.

Below a photograph from the ‘Southern Reporter’ of the launch. This shows Tracy Mason of Mason’s Bookshop, Catherine Hermary-Veille and Society members Sir Alistair Buchan-Hepburn a direct descendent of the 4th. Earl.

Sir Alistair has been campaigning for six years now to have his ancestors remains currently in Farevejle Kirk  in Denmark returned to Scotland for appropriate and proper burial.

In the article Sir Alistair states, all his efforts notwithstanding, that the Danish authorities claim they have had no representations at all from Holyrood for return of the remains and that there can be no progress without such a request. However Sir Alistair also states that he is meeting with the new Chief Executive of Historic Scotland in October to discuss the matter. We can only await further developments.

Ronald Morrison.

Hardcover: 416 pages
Luath Press Ltd
ISBN-10: 1906817545
ISBN-13: 978-1906817541
Size: 23.6 x 15.2 x 4.6 cm

Monday, 22 August 2011

Marian Concert Linlithgow

Society member Gabrielle Khun has brought to our attention a concert in Linlithgow in which she will be taking part.

This will  be given by "Quern" and will be based on Mary's life interwoven with music of her time and will take place on Friday 28th. October next in Queen Margaret Hall Blackness Road Linlithgow.

For further information on Quern and fuller details on the concert see

Gabrielle is front row right.

Ronald Morrison

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Visit to Pinkiecleuch Battlefield

Memorial to the Battle of Pinkie on the A6094 between A1 junction and Wallyford

On the day after our visit to Dunfermline (see below) Sunday 4th. October a number of us will joining a mini-bus tour of the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh which was fought  on 10th. September 1547.

This was the last pitched battle fought between Scottish and English troops. Accounts of numbers taking part vary but at least by one account the Scots led by the Second Earl of Aran numbered 36,000 whereas the English led by the Earl of Hertford numbered perhaps 22000. Nevertheless it resulted in an overwhelming victory for the English and it  is estimated that 15,000 Scots were killed, and 1500 were captured, whereas English fatalities amounted to only 500.

For a full account of the Battle see

The Battle had been part of the Wars of the Rough Wooing  to enforce the marriage of Mary to the eldest son of Henry V111 the future Edward V1. Notwithstanding victory however Hertford effectively withdrew after the Battle and the result from the English point of view was counter productive the Scots as a consequence negotiating a marriage not with Edward but with Francis, the dauphin of France.

Should be a most interesting tour of a not inconsequential battle but one, Scotland's greatest ever defeat, virtually unknown today.

The tour starts at 1.30. Booking is required - telephone 01620 827408 - price £7 per person

Ronald Morrison

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Visit to Dunfermline

Abbot House
Following our tour of the recently restored Royal Apartments in Stirling Castle, the next outing of the Scottish Branch of the Society will take place on Saturday 3 September 2011 to the Royal Burgh of Dunfermline and surrounding area where Queen Mary visited several times.

We will meet for coffee in the War Room of Abbot House (above) in the Maygate, a “treasure house of Scottish History”, once the administrative headquarters of the first and richest Benedictine Abbey in Scotland and now an award winning heritage centre within a 14th-16th Century historic house.  There will be a morning tour of the “new” Abbey Church dating from 1821 and built on the site of the much earlier Medieval eastern limb of the old Abbey.  During construction the human remains considered to be those of Robert the Bruce (minus the heart and viscera!) were found and re-interred below the pulpit.  We will then have time to explore the ruins of the great Benedictine Abbey complex dating back to the time of St. Margaret, including the 12th century nave erected by David l (adjoining the new Abbey Church) and the Palace remains.  The former Abbey guest house, visited by Mary, was extensively remodelled by James Vl to provide accommodation for Queen Anne of Denmark and was the birthplace of the future Charles l and hus sister the future Elizabeth of Bohemia.  Following lunch at Abbot House there should be a short time to explore some of the galleries and displays in the House before we head off to Rosyth Castle for a guided tour of the ruins. We will end the day with afternoon tea at the Queensferry Hotel in North Queensferry with fine views over the river and Forth Bridges.

The programme timings are as follow:
9.45 am          Meet for coffee in the War Room (1st floor) Abbot House
                       (Please note the early and prompt start).  Centre opens 9.30am.
10.45-11.15      Abbey Church tour.
11.30-12.15        Medieval Abbey Nave and Palace visit (Historic Scotland. For non-members our Treasurer will collect monies during coffee, £4/3.20 conc. Members to bring cards)
12.30-1.30            Soup + sandwich lunch at Abbot House in the War Room.
1.30-2.15                Individual visits to galleries/displays in Abbot House. Entry: £4/3 conc. Payable at shop
2.15-300         Return to cars and travel to Rosyth Castle.
3.00-400                  Tour of Rosyth Castle. Limited parking so full car use appreciated. 
4.15-5.30                Afternoon tea at Queensferry Hotel, North Queensferry.  Easy bus/rail links.

As you will note the day is quite structured, so if you plan to join us we would appreciate your co-operation with regard to timings.  Cost for the day is £15.00 per person and includes coffee and lunch
at Abbot House and tea at Queensferry Hotel.  We propose to subsidise car parking cost (if applicable) from Branch funds.  Travel maps and parking suggestions are included with this letter.

Please contact the Treasurer, Mr Ian Lumsdaine, address and telephone number above (e-mail, with your payment by Friday 26 August 2011 latest if you plan to come.

Lilian Cameron and Lindsey Fowell  

Friday, 12 August 2011

Visit to Sheffield

Gabrielle Kuhn has forwarded a number of images from the Society's Annual Conference at Sheffield Manor in April. Above is a small selection;