The Katherine Swynford Society - Dedicated To Lady Katherine, ne de Rot The Duchess of Lancaster

Marie Stuart Society Commemoration, 5th December 2009

Marie Stuart's Tomb

The West End of Westminster Abbey

On 5th December 2009 members of the Katherine Swynford Society joined members of the Marie Stuart Society in Westminster Abbey for the annual commemoration which is held as close as possible to Marie Stuart’s birthday, which is either 7th or 8th December*

Marie Stuart is perhaps better known to many as Mary Queen of Scots, mother of King James VI of Scotland who became King James I of England on the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Marie’s father was King James V of Scotland, her mother was the French Mary of Guise. Marie was a great granddaughter of King Henry VII, and a descendent of John and Katherine (The Duke and Duchess of Lancaster). After a very turbulent life, Mary was beheaded, the death warrant having been signed by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

The group met just inside the west entrance of Westminster Abbey, and were then escorted to the Mary Queen of Scots Chapel where Marie Stuart is buried. A welcome and introduction by a member of the clergy on behalf of the Dean and Chapter was followed by the Collect of the Day and then a short address by Mrs Margaret Lumsdaine, Chairman of the Society. A wreath was then laid, after which those present said together Mary Queen of Scot’s Prayer:

“Keep us, Oh God, from pettiness; let us be large enough in thought, in word, in deed. Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking. May we put away all pretence and meet each other, face to face, without self-pity and without prejudice. May we never be hasty in judgement and always generous. Let us take time for all things; make us to grow calm, serene, gentle. Teach us to put in action our better impulses – straight forward and unafraid. Grant that we may realise it is the little things of life that create difficulties; that in the big things of life we are as one.”

“Oh Lord, let us not forget to be kind.”

The Lord’s Prayer was said, followed by the blessing.

After the formal ceremony, members of the group were taken on a brief tour which included visits to King James VI tomb, and also the tomb of Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I (King Henry VIII’s daughters).

The Katherine Swynford Society extends its thanks to the Marie Stuart Society for organising this annual commemoration, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey for hosting the event.

* The exact date of Marie Stuart's birth is not known for certain. The Marie Stuart Society gives the 7th or 8th as Mary Queen of Scot's date of birth. Some sources confidently state that Marie Stuart was born on 8th December, so why the discrepancy? We asked Mrs Margaret Lumsdaine, Chair of the Marie Stuart Society, about the alternative dates. Here is what she says:

"I am pleased that you brought up the subject of MQS' birth date.   I grew up believing it was 7th December - possibly because it is the same date as my mother's.  However I have read in a number of books that she was actually born on the 7th and given the name 'Mary'.  But the 8th December was the day of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and this seemed a more important date and relevant for the young Princess Mary.   Her own most ardent and enthusiastic friend John Leslie, Bishop of Ross and last Abbot of Lindores, who had access to official records at the time, reported that Mary was born on the 7th.  Confusion has always surrounded the date of her birth and the death of her father, at a time of great political turmoil and warring factions on both sides of the Scottish/English border."
"There can never be proof of her actual birth date, and she herself believed it was 8th December.  I'm not sure that it matters really - but I like to think it was on the date of my mother's birthday."
  • The 2010 ceremony will take place in Westminster Abbey on the 4th December this year.  The date has already been confirmed by the Dean of Westminster.

Graham Coult. Vice-chairman, Katherine Swynford Society.

The bouquet about to be placed

The bouquet placed on Marie Stuart's tomb

Mrs Margaret Lumsdaine delivers the address

The Mary Queen of Scots prayer is said

At luncheon after the ceremony