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Sheffield Farmers' Market
start:25th May 2008
The Sheffield Farmers' market is held on one Sunday every month on the Barkers Pool area (outside John Lewis & Sheffield City Hall) of Sheffield City Centre from 10am until 4pm.

* Trader Highlight *
Knit & Sew
We sell a range of wool and haberdashery.

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Sheffield Castle - Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, was second cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. Unlike Elizabeth, she was a Catholic and the religious rivalry of the times was such that she and her followers hand ambitions that, aided by the Catholic countries of Spain and France, she would become Queen of England.

Mary Queen of Scots
Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots (artist unknown) 1578: National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

She married Francis, the Dauphin of France (heir to the French throne) at an early age. As King and Queen of France they continued to maintain her claim to the English throne. In 1560, however, her husband died suddenly, leaving her a widow at the age of 18.

She returned to Scotland where, in 1565, she married Lord Darnley, himself related to Elizabeth and a potential claimant to the English throne. He was murdered and Mary, along with Lord Bothwell (whom she later married), was suspected of the crime. The powerful Protestant faction drove her from the throne, and her only son took her place as James VI of Scotland.

In 1568 Mary escaped to England and sought the support of the Catholic nobility and her cousin Elizabeth was advised of the threat that Mary posed to her own crown, and the decision was taken to restrict her freedom.

She was handed over to the custody of George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, on 4th February 1569. She was not closely guarded, however, and was able, with the help of the Duke of Norfolk, and others of the Catholic nobility, to plot against Elizabeth. Several times Mary had to be moved to places of greater safety and stricter control.

On 28th November 1570 the Earl of Shrewsbury Castle, where, apart from a few breaks at Chatsworth and Buxton, and more regular visits to the Manor House, she remained for 14 years.

Old Queen's Head - Ponds Hill
Old Queen's Head
Photograph David B Staves

Despite Mary's actions, Elizabeth still seemed to support her cousin's claim to the Scottish throne, and Mary wrote regularly to her supporters in Scotland asking them to be faithful and to await the help she believed Elizabeth would provide. Two letters containing her writing are preserved in Sheffield Archives.

The Duke of Norfolk, not long released from the Tower of London, was caught in collusion with the papal agent, Ridolphi, plotting to bring about a Catholic uprising in England. Parliament demanded the execution of both Mary Stuart and Norfolk. At this stage no action was taken against Mary but the Duke of Norfolk was beheaded in 1572.

In 1582, while Mary was still being held at Sheffield, and inventory of all the household goods and furniture belonging to George, Earl of Shrewsbury, was made. The inventory describes the castle and contents and gives an idea of the type of rooms in the castle at this date. These included a chapel, a porch going into the great hall from the great chamber (which was probably the large dining room), a wardrobe, the Lord's chamber and outer chamber, the Lady's chamber, a bakehouse, brewhouse, pantry, washhouse and low washhouse, a round tower, a square tower and a turret, round towers on either side of the gatehouse and walls running along the waterside, a porter's lodge, a dungeon, a square room, little kitchen, old kitchen, a kennel and a range of stables.

Letter signed by Mary Queen of Scots
Letter signed by Mary Queen of Scots - Sheffield Archives

Also included in the inventory is the "stuff" of the "Queen of Scots and her people". Mary had with her a large entourage, which varied over time, made up of Scot's, French and English friends and Servants. The list of rooms for "her people" include those of the Master of the "quences howsholde", a Mr Burgon as her doctor and a Mr Jarvys as her "surgion".

The 1582 survey also lists the furnishings "in the hawle at the Poandes", now known as the Old Queen's Head inn, Pond Hill.

In August 1584 Queen Elizabeth finally agreed to Earl George's petition to release him from the duty of taking care of Mary, a task which had broken his marriage, his health and his chances of further political advancement. After leaving Sheffield, Mary was taken to Wingfield in Derbyshire by her new gaoler, Sir Ralph Sadler, and then to Tutbury. From there she went to Chartley in Staffordshire, where she became involved in the Babington plot.

Anthony Babington had first joined Mary as her page at Sheffield Castle, and like many others became devoted to her. Later he acted as a messenger between Mary and her friends on the continent. In 1586 he helped plan a Catholic insurrection in England, supported by Spanish arms, to release Mary and to murder Queen Elizabeth ministers. Mary's letter agreeing to this fell into the hands of the Queen, and all the conspirators were arrested, tried and hanged. Mary, Queen of Scot's the "daughter of debate, that eke discord doth sow" was tried and executed at Fotheringay, Northamptonshire, on 8th February 1587.

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