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Stirling Castle Celebrates French Connection

July 14, 2015 Destination Europe No Comments Email Email

Stirling Castle is set to explore its French Connections this weekend (18th and 19th July) with a series of special events and exhibitions. In the 500th year since the birth of one of the castle’s most influential queens, Mary of Guise, the castle will be filled with art and events celebrating her life and times.

'All the hearts of Scotland were open to the receiving of her Grace'  mixed media on canvas 80cms x 70cms

‘All the hearts of Scotland were open to the receiving of her Grace’  mixed media on canvas 80cms x 70cms

The Chapel Royal will be transformed by art exhibitions from Iona Leishman and Douai Artists International, whilst in the Nether Bailey visitors can explore a fascinating exhibition all about ‘The Other Mary’, wife of James V and mother of Mary Queen of Scots.  Meanwhile, in the Royal Palace families can see fine examples of French Craftsmanship and even make their own Fleur de Lis, the Great Hall will host a talk on the influence of 16th Century French Cuisine on what was eaten in Scotland, and ‘Auld Alliance’ themed tours will explore the castle’s many historical connections with France.

Eleanor Muir, Visitor Experience Manager at Stirling Castle said:  “The French influence on life at Stirling Castle was enormous. Visitors see this on a daily basis when they step inside the Royal Palace, recreated to look like it did in the 1540s when it was built for James V’s French queen, Mary of Guise – but in the 500th year since Mary’s birth we’re keen to bring these influences to life even more vividly.

“As visitors explore the castle during our French Connection weekend, they will be able to learn about its many French ties, from court customs to interior decoration and eating habits.  We’ve also got some fantastic art on display, craft activities for children, and our fascinating exhibition telling the unknown story behind ‘The Other Mary’. Whether you’re interested in art, history, or trying out the liqueurs on offer in the shop there’s something for everyone this weekend.”

‘And Yet It Stands’ is an exhibition of new work by former Stirling Castle artist in residence, Iona Leishman, inspired by Mary of Guise. Iona said: “My fascination with Mary of Guise began during my residency at Stirling Castle from 2011-12. Her courage was formidable, her story by turns tragic and inspiring. The title of the exhibition, ‘And yet it stands’, comes from Mary’s personal emblem which is, most poignantly, a crown set above a rock beaten by winds and waves.”

‘And Yet It Stands’ is on display in the Chapel Royal from 18th July until 31st August.

Douai Artists International are visiting Stirling as part of a cultural exchange sponsored by the French Institute, and will showcase a range of work in glass and ceramics in the Chapel Royal as part of the castle’s French Connection celebrations. The French town of Douai was once a centre of refuge for Catholics who fled during the reformation, and Mary Queen of Scots gifted them a painting of herself as a thank you for their services to her religion.

Most people will have heard of Mary Queen of Scots, but fewer know about her mother, ‘The Other Mary’ – the subject of a fascinating exhibition running at the castle until the 30th of November. Born five hundred years ago in a French chateau, Mary of Guise grew up to rule the kingdom of Scotland.

And to mark Scotland’s Year of Food And Drink, visitors can hear all about Renaissance cuisine with talks in the castle’s Great Hall, whilst over in the Clan and Craft gift shop there will be the opportunity to taste Bruadar & Columba Cream Liqueurs.

Entry to the French Connection is included in the admission to Stirling Castle. The event is free to Historic Scotland members.

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