Relics of Mary, Queen of Scots

by MJ Wayland

In 1869 Queen Victoria accepted a bequest from the 8th Lord Belhaven which contained various items belonging to Mary Queen of Scots. Using the Caledonian Railway, the Queen asked for the item to be sent direct to her at Windsor Castle. The list of relics shipped to her by Mr Matheson, from the “Board of Works” include:

A cabinet made of ebony, richly ornamented in front with designs in tortoiseshell, height 5ft 2in, width 4ft 2in, depth 1ft 9in. The front opens with folding doors, in the centre there are two small folding doors, which on being opened reveal a small recess, with tessellated pavement and roof with side mirrors. This cabinet was brought this cabinet with her from France on her return to Scotland after being made a widow when her husband King Frances II of France died. The cabinet was presented to the Earl of Mar, afterwards, the Earl made a gift of it to his favourite granddaughter, who married on of the ancestors of Lord Belhaven. The item can now be found in the Royal Collection –

The next relic was a purse made with Queen Mary’s own hands. Beautifully wrought with a crown, sceptre and sword in gold, the purse has the words “God save King James” emblazoned across it in stitching. Item cannot be found

Also sent to Queen Victoria was a piece of unleavened bread, to which no authentic history is attached. But it was said to be a fragment of what Queen Mary had used when participating in a Catholic rite. Item cannot be found

A casket containing a lock of Mary, Queen of Scots hair

The final relic was a lock of Mary’s hair, which is of a light colour. This is just a small piece of a larger lock found in Holyrood Palace by Lord Belhaven. The larger part was added to a rectangular casket and gifted to Belhaven’s son, the 9th Lord Belhaven, now it can be yours for £2,000 – £4000, the item is up for auction, click here

Mary, Queen of Scots isn’t classed as a martyr, but her dressing in “martyr” red at her execution seems to imply that she wanted to be accepted as one. Knowing this or the possibility that British Catholic might see her as a martyr, destroyed her place of execution within months of it taking place.

You may also like