Sunday, 20 November 2011

National Portrait Gallery Re-opening

Was very interested to note from today’s ‘Scotsman’ that the National Portrait Gallery in
Queen Street
will be reopening after extensive refurbishment on the 1st. of December next. The refurbishment work has been extensive and many portraits not previously in the public domain will now be on show.

Members will of course recall our guided tour of the gallery shortly before it shut  - it hardly seems three years ago now and a return visit must now be very high on the agenda.

According to the ‘Scotsman’ article the oldest item in the gallery is a portrait of Lord Darnley of 1755 by Hans Ewart.

Also on show is of course is what is known as ‘The Sheffield Portrait’ of Mary (above) probably by Rowland Lockey. The portrait was previously thought to have been based on  one currently in Hardwick Hall painted during Mary’s lifetime and this may or may not be the case. The date 1578 appears  and as Helen Smailes puts it in her book “The Queen’s Image” “the significance of the date is not clear but may represent an aspect of James’ policy of rehabilitating his mother’s reputation”.

Also in the exhibition is a rare woodcut which is believed to be the only image made of John Knox during his lifetime.

I think I am also correct in saying that on the fa├žade of the building, remains a range of statues including the only one in Scotland of Mary. As a Society we presently have in hand a project for the erection of a full size statue to Mary, we hope very much at or in the precinct of Holyrood House.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Forthcoming Events

Just received the latest edition of the Historic Scotland Magazine and notice two events which might be of interest.

On Sunday 11th. December at Stirling Castle from 12.30 to 3.30 pm. there is an event entitled;

“Stewart Christmas

Historic Scotland Members and others are invited to come along and enjoy a very light-hearted and slightly irreverent return to the period of Mary, Queen of Scots and find out what Christmas would have been like in the Stewart Royal Court of the 16th. century.

Further information telephone 0131 668 8885.

Earlier on Sunday 27th November there is an event at Craigmillar Castle entitled;

"Darnley must Die"

This is led by historian Allan Burnett and as advertised “he recreates the atmosphere of intrigue and skullduggery leading up to the Craigmillar Bond, a pact to dispose of Mary’s husband Henry Stuart –judge for yourself whether or not Mary was in on the plot”

This seems to be being repeated at 12 noon, 1 p.m. 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The above image is used in the Magazine to promote the event.

Why is Darnley dressed up as Harry Lauder and what is Mary proposing with her tickling stick?


Bolton Castle

Just back from a week-end break in North Yorkshire. A revisit to Bolton Castle was very much on the agenda but as rather feared closed for the winter until 11th. February next year.

Bolton Castle absolutely dominates the landscape in this part of Wensleydale and above photograph of the Castle  This was taken at approximately 3.30 on a foggy November afternoon and already darkness is beginning to fall and the arc lights which illuminate the Castle so brilliantly and probably light sensitive are on.

Mary was of course a prisoner at Bolton Castle from 16th. July  1568  until 26th of January of the following year.

Mary arrived at Bolton with little but the attire in which she had escaped from Scotland and Bolton Castle was ill fitted and ill furnished to house a regal visitor.

All sorts of furnishings were apparently hurriedly borrowed from neighbouring gentry and Elizabeth  would seem to have ordered provision to be made ‘for pewter vessels, brasspots and pans, racks and spits and a copper kettle  for the boiling of beef as well as garden sauces and other necessities incident to dinners” It is also recorded that Sir George Bowes sent her tapestries and turkey rugs to make her stay more comfortable and that the Earl of Northumberland sent venison

Possibly Mary would be more pleased to receive five cart loads of her personal luggage which the castle owner Lord Scrope had persuaded the Earl of Moray to send from Scotland. These included the Cloth of State which Mary set up in the Great Hall.

With Mary at Bolton were Leslie, Herries, the Livingstons, the Flemings, Gavin Hamilton, John Beaton, Bastian Pages and his wife, Mary Seton and Willy Douglas as well as a corps of loyal supporters.

Initially Mary would seem to have been granted a certain degree of freedom and certainly visited Nappa Hall about five miles away the home of the Metcalfes. A few years back we had the hapchance of spending a night at Nappa Hall which at that time did bed and breakfast – not sure if it now does.

It was perhaps at Bolton that Mary’s religious conviction may just have wavered although she later denied it vehemently. Her gaoler Sir Francis Knollys who was the husband of Elizabeth’s first husband Catherine Gray tried hard to convert Mary to Protestantism and boasted of some success claiming that “Mary was growing to a liking of English Common prayer”. If there was indeed any such waiver on Mary’s part it may of course not been not religiously driven but was rather an attempt by Mary to seek the better to ingratiate herself to Elizabeth’s eyes.

Mary was an accomplished horsewomen and there was one report that when out riding she galloped so far ahead of the party as to raise fears of an escape attempt. There was also a report of a suggested escape organized (as at Lochleven) by Willy Douglas whereby Mary was lowered from a window but the attempt was discovered it might appear by Lord Scrope himself.

Whatever. whether because of the above escape attempts Bolton was judged just too close to the Scottish Borders and the following January in the depth of winter Mary and her train were forcibly moved to Tutbury. It would appear that at the time of the journey both Mary and Lady Livingston were ill and had to be placed on a litter for the journey.

We enjoy breaks in North Yorkshire and hopefully can visit again next year.