Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition at Lyme Park, Cheshire

Image caption,
Mary Queen of Scots: Fact and Fiction is at Lyme Park until 30 Oct 2011

An exhibition is shedding some light on the visit of Mary, Queen of Scots to Cheshire more than 400 years ago.

Lyme Park near Disley has been chosen by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London to host Mary, Queen of Scots: Fact and Fiction.

It looks at Mary's depiction during her lifetime and since her execution.

Mary is said to have visited Lyme Park during her 19 years of imprisonment imposed by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.

According to the history books, Mary was forced to flee to England in 1568.

Although she had ruled as Queen of Scotland from a tender age, Mary had a strong claim to the English throne and therefore posed a threat to her cousin Elizabeth I.

To prevent her becoming a focus for the Catholic faith in England, Elizabeth had her put under house arrest.

James Rothwell, curator at Lyme Park, said it was during this time that Mary is reputed to have visited Lyme Park whilst taking the waters at nearby Buxton.

Reputed beauty

The Lyme Hall exhibition includes examples of prints of Mary from the NPG's reference collection together with a replica 19th Century bust taken from her effigy in Westminster Abbey.

Catharine MacLeod, from the National Portrait Gallery, said Mary became a figure of fascination long before her death.

"During the long period of her exile and captivity in England, Mary sat for several portraits, including a miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, the famous English miniaturist.

"Genuine attempts were made to track down true likenesses of historical figures, including Mary, Queen of Scots, whose reputed beauty and dramatic life story made her particularly appealing to artists."

Later in the season, the display will include Mary's Book of Hours - her small and very personal prayer book which contains her handwriting and is something she most likely carried with her wherever she went.

Mary was tried and condemned to death in October 1586. She was eventually executed on 8 February 1587.

Amy Carney, Lyme's House and collections manager, said the exhibition would "help to bring the house and the history of the house to life."

"A lot of visitors who come to Lyme normally are thrilled by the connections between Lyme and Mary, Queen of Scots so I think anyone interest in her would definitely love to come and see it."

Lyme Park is probably best known as a location for the 1995 BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice where Darcy meets Elizabeth.

Mary Queen of Scots: Fact and Fiction is at Lyme Park, Disley, Nr Stockport (26 Feb - 30 Oct 2011)

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