Sunday, 2 December 2012


An absolutely splendid Christmas Dinner on Saturday in every respect. The MacDonald Hotel, Holyrood did us proud - an excellent meal with many trimmings well served and well presented.

Highlight of the day though without doubt the rendition earlier by the group 'Quern'  (above) of a recital  entitled "The Return of Mary Queen of Scot", being music rendered 'in the Scottish idiom' relating to Mary and her period, from her birth in 1542 to her return to Scotland in 1561 obviously encompassing her early years in Scotland  and her childhood in France and her marriage to the Dauphin.

Fair to say, I think, that this much exceeded our expectations and we really most impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of a very talented group ably led by Amy Donaldson. The music moved from being toe-tapping to thought provoking and poignant evoking so vividly images of Mary's early life and combined the gaiety of her life at Court with the difficulties and choices which she had to face even in these early days of her life.

We appreciated though no only the music but also the well researched narration of her story, written by Wallace Lochhart, incorporating her own words, and the words of others in prose and poetry and even enjoying viewing some dance steps of the period.

Our sincerest thanks to all who made this possible including our own Gabrielle Kuhn on fiddle.

The programme of musical items comprised;

  • Overture
  • Gaberlunzie Man
  • Ballade a la Lune
  • O Lusty May
  • The Queen's Maries
  • Pavane de Thoinot Arbeau
  • Reel du Forgeron et Bouree
  • Religious music
  • Ile Estoil une Fillette
  • Il est bel at bon.

  • Songs of the Revolution
  • The Royal Lament
  • L'adieu de Marie Stuart
  • How nature hanged her mantle green
  • The royal Captive
  • L'adieu
 The group was formed in 1984with the twin objectives of promoting the music and culture of Scotland. In this they are certainly succeeding. Others musical journeys include;

  • The life Poetry and Songs of Robert Burns
  • Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd
  • The Life of Robert Service
  • Robert Louis Stevenson - a musical journey
  • Royal Mile
  • Oats and fishing
  • Violet Jacob - a tribute
  • The Linlithgow Story
  • The Auld Alliance.

Keep a weather - eye open - they are thoroughly recommended and given the opportunity I shall certainly make a  point of attending future performances.

Ronald Morrison

Monday, 26 November 2012

Stirling Castle

At Stirling Castle over the week-end - a wet miserable day and looking out from the ramparts over the Carse of Stirling a great deal of flooding evident - see picture above.
Still though quite a number of tourists about which befits a site recently voted the best Heritage  attraction in Britain by 'Which' members.
The picture was taken from the spot where in 1507 one John Damian, convinced he would be able to fly, jumped from the ramparts only to land ignominiously on to tree tops below, miraculously it would appear surviving with only a few broken bones. He later claimed his mistake was to use hen rather than eagle feathers.
Unlike recent visits with the Society, a family occasion with youngsters in tow. Very impressed indeed with all there is for children (young and old) which had previously passed me by - dressing up in period clothes, interactive educational games, learning about the jesters, meeting with ladies of the Court and generally learning what life was like in the Castle in Mary's time and immediately before. Always more to see and experience every visit
Lots of events coming up over the Christmas period - see

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Mary Queen of Scots Tour

Society member Jamie Sempill has recently embarked on a series of Marie Stuart tours and has submitted the following report on the first such tour. For further particulars:


The Inaugural Mary Queen of Scots tour.
Jamie can be seen extreme left while Society member Roy Johnstone who gave a fine talk to the Society earlier this month can be seen second right
The inaugural tour was a great success, with the notable exception of the weather, which decided in memory of Mary to replicate her arrival in Leith some 450 years ago; grey, misty and wet.
In fact, so bad was the weather that we arrived at Edinburgh Castle to find it closed on account of the conditions. Fortunately, the Museum of Scotland is close by, and provides  a wonderful insight into her reign plus allowing sufficient time for the Castle to re-open.  Bad weather, however, is good for team spirit, and adds to the sense of adventure. So by the time we toured Holyrood Palace and had been told the tale of Rizzio’s bloody murder, the dark rain filled sky had provided  the perfect backdrop.

The following day saw us in the Borders, where the dreek weather had decided to park itself for the day. The Mary Queen of Scots' House in Jedburgh is a real gem. It is dedicated to her memory and has been open to the public since 1930. One of the rooms has painted panels of all the key players in her reign, which helps in putting faces to the names which crop up throughout the tour. It is also a great example of a 16th. century tower house, which stands as a good contrast to the castles and palaces where she lived.
 It is incredible to think that during her very short reign she travelled over 1200 miles and stayed in 80 different properties, one of which, Traquair House, was our lunch time destination. This house is still lived in by the Maxwell-Stuarts, whose ancestor was the Captain of Queen Mary’s Royal Guard. The group, by now enjoying a rapidly clearing sky, was met by Catherine, the current Mistress of Traquair. It is Scotland’s oldest inhabited house and boasts its own brewery and chapel.

Craigmillar Castle sits on the outskirts of Edinburgh in a district known as Little France, on account of the number of French who lived in the area at the time of her reign. It was here that a group of her advisors decided that Darnley, by now a major political embarrassment, had to be removed. The Craigmillar bond is said to have been agreed to by Mary, but the document has never been found. The castle is a well maintained ruin and has a great view of both the city and the coastline. It is also very close to the Sheep’s Heid , Scotland’s oldest inn, and the perfect place to end the second day.
The final day started with a 10 minute boat trip on one of the country’s largest bird sanctuaries. We were blessed with clear blue skies and no wind. Loch Leven is probably more closely associated with Mary, than all the other properties bar Holyrood. She was held captive here for nearly a year during which time she had a miscarriage and was forced to abdicate her throne.

Falkland Palace is by contrast a far more inviting location. We had the great advantage of being guided by Lindsey Fowell, a member of the Marie Stuart Society. She was dressed as Mary and plays the role to perfection. The chapel is very special, and is still open to the local community. The palace also has the advantage of being well looked after and is still lived in by the Crichton-Stuart family, the hereditary Keepers of Falkland Palace.

The group’s last visit was to Stirling Castle, which recently won the award for the most popular tourist destination in Scotland. The restoration of the castle by Historic Scotland has been a major achievement and is very much the icing on the cake as far as the tour is concerned. The great advantage is that the restoration takes us back to what it would have looked like during her reign. This helps to show the power of the Stuarts and the impact of the renaissance on Scotland, all of which is greatly enhanced by the performance of the guides dressed in contemporary costume. They are a real tour de force.
Over dinner that evening, which I hosted in my home, it was quite apparent that the tour had been a great success. Importantly, it had been entertaining whilst informative. One of the group, Pauline, who lives on the isle of Skye, had really enjoyed seeing a part of Scotland that she had only ever driven through. I believe that key to the success of the tour had been how well the group had enjoyed each other’s company.

It was the first time I had run the tour, and I really enjoyed it. The fact that my family had had been party to many of the events that occurred during her reign, enabled me to provide a personal view, albeit with a small touch of poetic licence!
So if you are interested in knowing more about sixteenth century Scotland  and the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, call at, where you will find all the appropriate information about the tour.

Jamie Sempill


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Advance notice that the A.GM. of the English Branch which will be on 4th. May next in the Old Hall Hotel, Buxton (below)


The 15th. A.G.M. of the English Branch of the Society will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 4th. May 2013 which is part of a Bank Holiday weekend. Appropriately it will be held in the Old Hall Hotel in Buxton where Marie stayed on five recorded occasions during August 1573 and July 1584 to "Take the waters". The meeting will be held in the Shrewsbury Room which is in the Tudor part of the building, with vaulted ceiling, and which was most likely known and used by Marie.In recent months there as been an added attraction of interest to us. A document in the Portland Papers at Longleat reproduces messages, poems and sketches etc. which had been scratched onto glass windows in the Old Hall (or the New Hall as it was then known) during the period when Marie was in Buxton. There are 39 "window writings" in all, 16 of which are believed to have been written by Marie. It is thought that the document faithfully reproduces the written texts, and was made by Michael Hicks, Secretary to Lord Burghley. The facsimile has been made on specially produced "restoration glass" and now hangs in the hallway of the Old Hall Hotel.

The formal AGM will be followed by a talk given by Patrick Chapman who will outline the visits of Marie to Buxton and discuss in detail the "window writings".

Depending on building work, which in itself is of great interest, it may be possible for small groups to be taken into the sub-cellars in which there is a direct link to the spa waters, and is probably where Marie took the waters.

Accommodation is available at the Old Hall Hotel ( OR 01298 22841) and there is a b/b close by in Grosvenor House ( or 01298 72439).

It would be helpful if those wishing to attend could indicate to the Chairman of the English Branch, Meg Langton if they will be attending this meeting.

Friday, 26 October 2012

25th. October 2012

Next Tuesday, (30th.) in the Edinburgh Central Library 7-9 George 1V Bridge Edinburgh (6 to 7.30 p.m.) sees the launch a a new book by Society member Marie Macpherson  entitled;

"The First Blast of the Trumpet"

As the Rev StewartLamont, author of "The Swordbearer", a biography of John Knox writes in his review;

 "This is an intriguing fictional tale of the early life of John Knox.

All member s of the Society are cordially invited to the opening when refreshments will be served and their will be period music  from the duo "Shattered Consort"

A renowned academic Marie is the winner of the Martha Hamilton prize for creative writing from the University of Edinburgh and also writer for the year 2011 awarded by Tyne and Esk writers Marie will be presenting a short documentary film followed by a reading from her novel and book signing.

Signed hardback copies of the book signed by the author will be available to purchase - price £20.

Society member Ann McMillan has written a review for which we are much indebted as follows;
It is Halloween in Hailes Castle. As the wind howls down the chimney the three young Hepburn sisters are crouched over the fire listening to the wisdom of their nurse Betsy. Their lives do not take the path that they would wish; Elizabeth wishes to marry David Lindsey the poet and tutor to James V, but they prove to be star-crossed lovers. Elizabeth’s Uncle, John Hepburn, the Prior of St. Andrews, has different plans for her, and for her sister who really does have a vocation for the religious life. Prior Hepburn decides that his niece Elizabeth will eventually become the Prioress of St. Mary’s Haddington, not for pious reasons but to further family interests. Thus begins the tale of the birth of the Scottish Reformation.

Most of the famous players from the 16th century appear, and because of the excellent research their roles seem natural and believable; they include Marie of Guise, John Knox, ‘Bell the Cat’ Douglas, James 1V and V, and the various warring families of the age, amongst them the brutish Douglases and the devious Hepburns. Herein James 1V is not the golden monarch so beloved by his people, but a posturing man who enjoys acting the drunken jester at a wedding and who cannot wait to rush into the nuptial chamber to comment on the groom’s performance [the bride has already been his mistress] in ‘tail-toddle’. Nothing could dissuade James from his ill-judged campaign in Flodden, with lack of planning and untried weapons and his misguided cult of chivalry. Considering the catastrophic effect of Flodden Dr. MacPherson deals with it briefly. However the aftermath and effects are apparent throughout the book: the rivalries around the young King, the ‘widows of Flodden’ with their ragged starving children and the young undisciplined orphaned nobles.

In pre-Reformation Scotland sins of the flesh were considered venial rather than mortal and almost every churchman had at least one mistress, and several had a ‘wheen o’ weans’ whose futures had to be paid for. There were constant festivals and plays to keep the populace happy, and morality and nativity plays served like the music halls of a later date with the players being insulted and pelted with weapons.

Witnessing a nativity play where  jeering comments question the parentage of the ‘Babe of Bethlehem’ and lewd suggestions query what the Virgin and the Angel Gabriel ‘were up to’, the young student priest John Knox is horrified. Unable to stand the blasphemy any longer, he stands up and harangues the raucous crowd – only to be slapped down by being hit across the face with a wet haddock for his pains. So his debut as a preacher is not deemed much of a success.

It is from this ‘puddle of Papistry’, corruption and superstition that the young Knox begins to emerge and to question the practises of the Church and the role of the ‘ Anti-Christ’.  The villain of the book is the Catholic Church and the nastiest villain of all is James Beaton, who was to become Cardinal of Scotland.  He first appears in France as a vain popinjay with every conceivable vice, there is even a sickly odour around him, and it is not the odour of sanctity! The book is peopled with marvellous characters, most of whom existed. Some have a Chaucer-like quality - the gluttonous voluptuaries, the Hepburn brother and sister. They both eat enormous meals, and dress richly under their religious robes; and Janet’s cell in St. Mary’s is full of rich furnishings and trappings. With lewd thick lips, and small eyes that examine young maidens with a lascivious stare, the corpulent Prior indulges himself in every excess.  Prioress Janet is huge, with bulbous eyes set in a podgy face and evil smelling breath.

There is an hilarious scene where she tucks into a dish of stag's testicles that ‘tastes like strumpet’s teats’. The rest of the convent ate sparse and humble fare.

The protagonists are human, and no one is presented with a monopoly of right. There is a tenderness and humanity in the presentation of real historical characters. Marie of Guise comforting another mother as she watches her beloved little daughter run happily up the gang plank to the ship that will take her out of her life. The sturdy little girl plays tig with her ‘Marys’ on board the ship unaware that her life is about to change.

Betsy the fictional nursemaid to the Hepburn girls, lovingly laying out her dead youngest charge [‘her little harebell’]   in her mother’s wedding gown, and swallowing her tears, which can be saved for later, because if ‘tears fall on the body, the spirit will not rest’. The young Adam Hepburn tries manfully to hold true to the Hepburn family motto ‘Keep Tryst’ – Keep Trust. Going off to Flodden, like a young Hector proud in his shining armour, he salutes his Andromache and his young son on the battlements and, like Hector, never to return.

Dr Macpherson’s thrilling narrative is evocative and descriptive, full of the wonderful Scots words of the 16th century and there are many quotations from the rick literature of the period. Being a linguist – she has ‘taught languages across Europe from Madrid to Moscow’- Dr Macpherson makes the Scots words and phrases sound natural and expected, and they do not appear forced nor in ‘inverted commas’.

The writer’s excellent research uncovers a harsh, decaying, unforgiving and raw world of rivalry and betrayal, where sins and decisions made can affect further generations. The brutal, earthy world of the 16th century seems real and immediate, laced with saving humour. The romances are gritty and sensual without being gratuitous. There are some surprising plot revelations but, although questionable, they seem possible and believable. In the chaotic upheavals of this uncertain world with the looming religious conflicts, there are the stirring of the Reformation to come which will change Scotland forever and lead to the Enlightenment.

I look forward with impatience to the second book in the Knox trilogy.

Ann McMillan the Marie Stuart Society. Hon. President of the Dorothy Dunnett Society
The First Blast s of the Trumpet by Marie McPherson is published by Knox Robinson
 ISBN 978-1-908483-21-8      380pp         £19.99 [Hbk] and £6.17 e-book.   
Available from bookstores and on line at The Book Depository, Amazon and Books from Scotland

is a winner of the Martha Hamilton Prize for Creative Writing from Edinburgh University and also 'Writer of the Year 2011' awarded by Tyne & Esk Writers. Marie will be presenting a short documentary film followed by a reading from her novel and book signing. The evening will be further enhanced with period music from the duo Shatter'd Consort

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

26th. July 2012

Craufurdland Castle

Society member Myra McLanaghan has sent in the following article regarding Craufurdland Castle and letters of Mary, Queen of Scots.

"I wonder if anyone saw the recent programme on Channel 4 called "Country House Rescue"?  It was Craufurdland Castle at Kilmarnock (above) – during the introduction of the programme it talked of its history (built in 1245) namely William Wallace etc. and then it casually showed letters from Mary, Queen of Scots. Ayrshire seems to have a few secrets up its sleeve regarding Mary. The owner, also in looking around his property found a poem from Robert Burns. I think this is a secret treasure trove of a place.  Found the followings little snippets;

“John Craufurd of Craufurdland, who upon his father's resignation got a charter under the Great Seal Johanni Craufurd juniori de Craufurdland, terrarium ecclesiaticarum de Kilbryde, &c in Ayrshire, dated Feb 1581. During his lifetime, probably due mainly due to his Great Uncle's (Archibald Craufurd) influence, got form Mary Queen of Scots a gift of the ward of the lands of Reidhall, lying within the Stewartry of Annandale. The deed of gift, having the signature attached to it, dated at Edinburgh 26th. December 1561, is held by the family.”

“Story of Archibald Craufurd (back up to the Boyds & Montgomerys);

Archibald Craufurd was a Lord of Session, Secretary and Almoner to Queen Mary of Guise, with whose corpse he was sent to France in 1560 to see it deposited in the Benedictine Monastery of St Peter at Rheims, where her sister was then Abbess. While in France, he got a commission from her daughter, Queen Mary of Scots, renewing him his office of Secretary and Almoner. The commission, supposed to be the first granted to a Scotsman, is dated Joinville in France, 17th. April 1561. 

Queen Mary, after her arrival in Scotland, August 1561, was permitted to worship in the chapel in Holyrood. Riots attacks were sometimes made upon the chapel and there was danger of it being rifled at any time the Queen was absent from Edinburgh. On account of this, the Queen on 11th. January 1562 directed Sir James Paterson (probably one of her officiating chaplains, and one of her loyal Knights) to deliver her Valet de Chambre, Servais de Conde, and the furniture of her Chapel , to be kept by Archibald, in the wardrobe in her palace at Edinburgh (The original Inventory of which is held by the family). 

When Queen Mary was taken to Castle of Lochleven, as a prisoner, she was spoiled of all of her princely ornaments, which the Lords took inventory. It appears , however she found means to send to Archibald further treasures from her table. He kept these faithfully until they were demanded from him by the then Treasurer, Mr Richard Richardson, who in turn delivered these to James Stewart, Regent. He in turn granted his acquaintance for the same to Archibald (the original which is held by the family.

In addition to his noble service to Queen Mary and her mother, Archibald was also responsible for the building of the West Church of Glasgow, and the |Bridge of Eaglesham. He died unmarried”

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Marie Stuart Society: Marie Stuart Society: Sheffield Manor

16th. May 2012

Marian Events at Sheffield Manor

The Society held a very successful Gathering at the Manor last spring when we were made very welcome and fair to say that we were very impressed with all the restoration and interpretive work which has taken place there in recent years.

Mary was of course prisoner at Sheffield Castle for fourteen long years from 1570 to 1584. The Castle itself has to all intents and purposes disappeared but the Lodge to which it was linked by a beautiful avenue of walnut trees has most fortunately survived and has now been handsomely restored

I have received a note of the following events with a bearing on Mary’s story which will taking place at the Manor this summer and autumn and which I am sure will be of interest both to Society members and others.

Tuesday 21st. August

Who Dunnit? Someone has been sneeking messages out of Sheffield Manor Lodge to Mary supporters. Come and collect the clues. Interview the Tudor characters and see if you can find out who was guilty.

                                                Monday 3rd.  September

The final days of Mary, Queen of Scots Talk by David Templeman  Sheffield to Fortheringhayat 7.0. p.m. Advance Booking only - £4

Friday 7th. September

National Heritage Open Days;  Guided tour and costumed interpretation of the ruins and Turret House - Free.

Saturday 8th. September

Mediaeval History Day; Guided tours and costumed interpretation of the ruins of Turret House -Free

Friday 2nd. November

Tudor Crafts;  Find out how Bess of Hardwick and MQS used to pass their time . Booking essential.

Bess of Hardwick

Interspersed with the above are events covering archaeology, cooking, pottery, food and flower festivals to name but a few.

Full details see -


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Marie Stuart Society: Gunsgreen House

 Concert of 16th. century music at Gunsgreen House Eyemouth

Just heard of a concert of 16th. century music on 26th. May  at Gunsgreen House in Eyemouth which we would almost certainly have attended but for the fact that it clashes with the Society outing to Dundee.

Posting details as anyone not managing Dundee might just manage down to Eyemouth.

The concert is by Bel Canto, an Edinburgh-based a cappella group who specialise in the performance of choral music from the 15th and 16th centuries. In recent years this repertoire has been extended to include music of all periods, including some specially commissioned works. The Group comprises around 12 regular voices although draws on an extensive pool of deputies for the performance of larger scale pieces of music.

 The Group generally performs in historic settings and has performed widely in churches, cathedrals, castles and stately homes throughout Scotland, including an annual series of concerts for the National Trust for Scotland. They also gives recital in the various Galleries of Scotland.  

The group was founded by the current Director, David Buchanan-Cook, in 1990. He is also a composer of choral music and the premier of his Missa Brevis was performed by Bel Canto in St Aloysius Church, Glasgow in 2005.

The recital will consist of a selection of English Elizabethan madrigals on the theme of Fair Ladies and sundry winged creatures. The music will be interspersed with readings and refreshments will be served at the interval.

Tickets are priced at £15 which includes a glass of prosecco and nibbles at the interval.

To book contact Gunsgreen  or telephone 018907 52062

Marianne and I are voluntary guides at Gunsgreen House (usually on a Monday morning) and while nothing to do with Mary we thoroughly recommend a visit if in this part of the world. Designed by John Adam for a master smuggler this recently restored house has so much of historic interest and so many secrets to reveal.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Dorothy Dunnett Society

Received today copy of a recent edition of the magazine “Whispering Gallery” which is a publication of the
Dorothy Dunnett Society.

This is not a magazine which I am familiar with, not indeed with the Society which exists to promote an interest in the works of author Dorothy Dunnett and the period in which they are set. Society member Ann McMillan is their Chairman.

I was very impressed indeed with the Magazine both the content and the quality.

Much of historic interest in the content including a most interesting and detailed article on the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh -a number of us visited and enjoyed a guided tour of the battlefield site only last September see-

Although no connection with Mary or her period another very interesting article written by Ann on “St. Ninian and the West Pilgrims’ Way”.

A Society which looks in many ways similar to our own - even to the extent that they will be holding their annual Gathering in Edinburgh on the same day as ourselves. Theirs however will extend over the whole week-end taking in talks on recent discoveries at Stirling Castle and a visit to the Castle and the Wallace Monument.

I have put up a link on our website.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Treasures from The Royal Palaces

As part of  the Christmas Outing last December members of the Scottish Branch enjoyed a visit to the exhibition entitled “The Northern Renaissance: Durer to Holbein” being staged in the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace Holyroodhouse.

The exhibition contained much relating to Mary and the Royal Court including
portraiture by  court artist, Fran├žois Clouet’s  showing Mary  both as the16-year-old future bride of Francis IIc.1558 and as a widow of 18 who had just lost the throne of France, c.1560-61. 

Mary as a widow by Clouet

Too late now to see this exhibition but good news for those members who have kept their tickets which I believe they will admit to a new exhibition just opened.

This exhibition marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is entitled

Treasures from the Queen’s Palaces

While obviously not so relevant to Mary an exhibition well worth seeing in its own right including works by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo as well as two Easter Eggs by the Russian Jeweller Carl Faberge.

Also though included is a pair of earrings given by Mary to her attendant Mary Seton.

Even if not of so much Mary interest nevertheless an exhibition certainly well worth visiting. For further information.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Callander House, Falkirk

Visited Callander House in Falkirk yesterday.

Purpose of the visit not involving Mary at all although the house is one with very many Marian connections.

The is very little of the house which Mary would know remaining but rebuilt as a fine Georgian House built in the French chateau style and well worthy of a visit.

The house is now a museum and art gallery with perhaps the main attraction for many being the fine restored and working Georgian kitchen.

Nonetheless a House very closely interwoven in Marian history.

In Mary’s time owned by Alexander, Fifth Lord Livingston who accompanied Mary’s father James V on his journey to France for the marriage to Princess Magdalene.

Shortly after her birth, Mary was betrothed to the future Edward V1 of England by the Treaty of Greenwich, a union initially promoted by the Regent of Scotland, the Earl of Aran but opposed by others.

It was a Callander House that the two parties became reconciled and determined to resile from the Treaty thereby incurring the wrath of the English King Henry V111 and setting in train the ‘Wars of the Rough Wooing’

Lord Livingston’s daughter was one of the ‘Four Marys ‘ who accompanied Mary to France (although not mentioned in the well-known song of the same title). Lord Livingston and his wife were also in the party and Lord Livingston was to die there in 1552.

His son, Lord William Livingston, although he had converted to Protestantism, played a prominent role in effecting Mary’s return as monarch in 1561.

Mary visited Callander House on several occasions, including in 1565 for the marriage of Mary Livingston to Lord Semple and later for the baptism of one of Lord Livingston’s children.

Mary also stayed at Callander on her return from Glasgow accompanied by Lord Darnley immediately before returning to Edinburgh. It was at Callander that the decision was taken than Darnley should not recuperate at Craigmillar Castle as would appear to have been intended but at the ill fated Provost’s Lodgings at Kirk o’ Field.

How and by whom this decision came to be made and the logistics of getting the house ready and what preplanning would have been required for the packing of the cellars of the house with gunpowder has long been debated and no doubt will again arise when the matter is the subject of the address by John Addiman at out Annual Gathering in April.

Ronald Morrison

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Anniversary of Mary's Execution

8th. February 2012
The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots by Harry Payne 1858-1927

To day is the 425th. anniversary of Mary’s execution at Fotheringhay Castle in Northhamptonshire in 1587

The lines (gender adjusted) of Malcolm in “Macbeth”   speaking of the Thane of Cawdor spring to mind:

"Nothing in her life
Became her like the leaving of it"

There can be no doubt she died with regal dignity and almost certainly sought to die as a Catholic Martyr.

The following is a contemporary account of her execution by Robert Wynkfield (spelling  modernized)

Her prayers being ended, the executioners, kneeling, desired her Grace to forgive them her death: who answered, 'I forgive you with all my heart, for now, I hope, you shall make an end of all my troubles.' Then they, with her two women, helping her up, began to disrobe her of her apparel: then she, laying her crucifix upon the stool, one of the executioners took from her neck the Agnus Dei, which she, laying hands off it, gave to one of her women, and told the executioner, he should be answered money for it. Then she suffered them, with her two women, to disrobe her of her chain of pomander beads and all other apparel most willingly, and with joy rather than sorrow, helped to make unready herself, putting on a pair of sleeves with her own hands which they had pulled off, and that with some haste, as if she had longed to be gone.
All this time they were pulling off her apparel, she never changed her countenance, but with smiling cheer she uttered these words,'that she never had such grooms to make her unready, and that she never put off her clothes before such a company.'
Then she, being stripped of all her apparel saving her petticoat and kirtle, her two women beholding her made great lamentation, and crying and crossing themselves prayed in Latin. She, turning herself to them, embracing them, said these words in French, 'Ne crie vous, j'ay prome pour vous', and so crossing and kissing them, bad them pray for her and rejoice and not weep, for that now they should see an end of all their mistress's troubles.
Then she, with a smiling countenance, turning to her men servants, as Melvin and the rest, standing upon a bench nigh the scaffold, who sometime weeping, sometime crying out aloud, and continually crossing themselves, prayed in Latin, crossing them with her hand bade them farewell, and wishing them to pray for her even until the last hour.
This done, one of the women have a Corpus Christi cloth lapped up three-corner-ways, kissing it, put it over the Queen of Scots' face, and pinned it fast to the caule of her head. Then the two women departed from her, and she kneeling down upon the cushion most resolutely, and without any token or fear of death, she spake aloud this Psalm in Latin, In Te Domine confido, non confundar in eternam, etc. Then, groping for the block, she laid down her head, putting her chin over the block with both her hands, which, holding there still, had been cut off had they not been espied. Then lying upon the block most quietly, and stretching out her arms cried, In manus tuas, Domine, etc., three or four times. Then she, lying very still upon the block, one of the executioners holding her slightly with one of his hands, she endured two strokes of the other executioner with an axe, she making very small noise or none at all, and not stirring any part of her from the place where she lay: and so the executioner cut off her head, saving one little gristle, which being cut asunder, he lift up her head to the view of all the assembly and bade God save the Queen. Then, her dress of lawn [i.e. wig] from off her head, it appeared as grey as one of threescore and ten years old, polled very short, her face in a moment being so much altered from the form she had when she was alive, as few could remember her by her dead face. Her lips stirred up and a down a quarter of an hour after her head was cut off.
Then Mr. Dean [Dr. Fletcher, Dean of Peterborough] said with a loud voice, 'So perish all the Queen's enemies', and afterwards the Earl of Kent came to the dead body, and standing over it, with a loud voice said, 'Such end of all the Queen's and the Gospel's enemies.'
Then one of the executioners, pulling off her garters, espied her little dog which was crept under her cloths, which could not be gotten forth by force, yet afterward would not depart from the dead corpse, but came and lay between her head and her shoulders, which being imbrued with her blood was carried away and washed, as all things else were that had any blood was either burned or washed clean, and the executioners sent away with money for their fees, not having any one thing that belonged unto her. And so, every man being commanded out of the hall, except the sheriff and his men, she was carried by them up into a great chamber lying ready for the surgeons to embalm her.

Ronald Morrison