Meeting Report November 2014
Our November meeting was attended by 57 members and guests
who gathered to hear a fascinating lecture on Mary Queen of Scots, the
Captive Queen, by David Templeman. David, a former business man, retired
nine years ago and since then has honed his skills as an Elizabethan historian
and lecturer who is much in demand nationwide. He is also Chair of the
Friends of Sheffield Manor Lodge, one of the several manor houses in Yorkshire
where Mary Queen of Scots was held during her imprisonment in the county.
began his lecture by explaining that although much has been written about
Mary, very few publications have concentrated on her imprisonment which
took up such a large part of her life. In fact she was held prisoner for
19 years which amounted to almost half her life. David explained that
when she first arrived in England in May 1568, Elizabeth was faced with
the dilemma of what to do with her. Fearing an uprising or plots to free
her, Elizabeth decided to keep her in England but subject to a form of
house arrest. Thus began a series of stays in castles and manor houses
in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and the Midlands, although the majority of her
time was spent at Sheffield Castle in Yorkshire.
At first she was allowed much freedom and could still indulge in her favourite
pastimes of riding and hunting. She was also afforded all the privileges
which were her right as a monarch with a court of some 40 attendants including
her personal priest. David told us that as her years of imprisonment lengthened
and her privileges were removed she had to concentrate on indoor pursuits
and produced, along with her ladies-in-waiting, over 200 pieces of embroidery
and wrote over 2,000 letters. We were intrigued to be told that Mary was
allowed two barrels of white wine per month which she not only drank,
but also bathed in thus giving her beautiful skin and a flawless complexion.
Describing her years of imprisonment David explained how her health deteriorated
along with that of her custodian George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, since
he was subject to the same privations as she was. In fact the task which
Elizabeth had imposed upon him eventually cost him his health, his wealth
and his marriage to the formidable Bess of Hardwick. By the 1580's Mary's
health had become so bad that she was unable to walk unaided and had to
be carried from room to room by sedan chair.
Throughout her imprisonment there were numerous plots and escape attempts
all of which were dealt with brutally when discovered. The Rebellion of
the North resulted in the burning of 500 towns and villages and the execution
of 1,000 men. Although Elizabeth had no desire to execute her cousin she
could not ignore her involvement in the Babington Plot of 1586 and Mary
was eventually tried for high treason and executed at Fotheringhay Castle
in February 1587 aged forty four.
We had thoroughly enjoyed David's interesting and fact filled telling
of the sad story of Mary Queen of Scots and it proved a fitting end to
our autumn programme. The evening concluded with hot drinks and mince
The next meeting on Monday 26th January 2015 will be an illustrated talk
by Lucy Moore entitled - "Leeds Museums & Galleries & the
First World War".