Wednesday, 16 November 2011

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.


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