If you live in the North of England you will most probably come across a plaque on a building that says Mary Queen of Scots slept here.
This is because she exiled herself in England hoping her half sister Elizabeth would welcome her. Elizabeth did not want her at court in London because she could be seen as a rival to the throne and kept her very much in the North of England and for much of the time under the control of Bess of Hardwick also one of the most powerful women of the time. Bess too was kept out of court with her new arduous task and had to use some of her wealth to achieve her goal
Bess was reputed to be one of the richest women in England only second to the queen herself and had amassed a large property portfolio in which to keep Mary.
Mary was continually moved to wear her down and reduce the chances of her plotting against the state. However she never met her sister and met an untimely end.
On a recent holiday to Scotland we visited Linlithgow Palace the birth place of Mary. Unfortunately the now ruins were closed but this is still an imposing building on a site that makes it even more majestic.
You must be wandering why this is on a Football site for the curious. Well Mary Queen of Scots was a sports woman and sports fan and at 5 feet 10 inches tall (1.8 mtrs) an imposing figure for the age.
Recent research into old records has thrown up some interesting new ideas. There are mentions in official doccuments, up to 350 years ago, that a game using a small ball was played in royal castles and when Stirling Castle was restored in the 1970’s a leather ball with a pigs bladder was found behind a false wall in Mary’s living quarters.
Recent research found old diaries of Sir Francis Knollis who was keeping Mary under suveilance at Carlisle Castle and in them he wrote of a game played for Mary using a ball in which the players only used their feet.
So when we sing ‘Football’s Coming Home’s we may have to wait for Scotland to win the world cup for this to be true. We may also need to acknowledge Mary Queen of Scots as an early patron of the game, a true fan.