Today In Mary Queen of Scots History — November 28

November 28, 1570


Sheffield Castle.

During Mary Stuart’s captivity in England, she was incarcerated in a series of castles, the worst of which was the infamous Tutbury Castle, owned by the Earl of Shrewsbury.  Tutbury was never properly maintained due to the high cost of doing so and because the Countess of Shrewbury, known as Bess of Hardwick, who held the purse strings in that marriage, was more interested in building modern new manor houses than trying to fix old castles.  The Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury of course had to live in this nasty castle as well as captive Queen of Scots, so it was in their best interests to petition Queen Elizabeth Tudor for allowance to move Queen Mary to one of their many other residences. So Mary moved from Wingfield Manor to Chatsworth House, but neither of these fine places were deemed to have good enough security to hold the Queen of Scots, famous for her ability to escape her prisons. So in November 1570, she was taken to Sheffield Castle, the earl’s main home, and here she would stay for more than two years, the longest she would stay in one place while in England.
Sheffield Castle no longer exists; it was razed after the English Civil War. But there are pictures of the castle. Apparently, Mary’s life there was quite comfortable. John Guy writes, “Her rooms were luxuriously hung with tapestries and lit at night by candles set in gilt chandeliers, which was just as well, since Mary often refused to go to bed until one o’clock in the morning. Turkish carpets lay on the floor, items so valuable they were normally used only as table covers. Mary’s chairs were upholstered with crimson velvet and cloth of gold, while her female attendants sat on low stools, as they had at Holyrood when she was still a reigning queen. At one end of her presence chamber was a high-backed chair under a cloth of state on a dais. A smaller cloth of state was erected over her chair in her bedroom. She slept in a large canopied state bed shrouded by curtains, and her sheets were of the finest linen, changed every day.” (Guy, 430)
After the Ridolfi Plot & the execution of the Duke of Norfolk, Mary was moved back to Tutbury Castle, apparently as punishment for her involvement in the plots that swirled around her.  She became very ill almost immediately.

Works cited:

Guy, John. . Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company: 2004