A MYSTERY letter unearthed in Blair Castle in Ayrshire has been confirmed as being written by Mary Queen of Scots.
The letter, valued at £3,000, is going under the hammer at Lyon & Turnbull on March 14 and 15 in Edinburgh, and forms part of a sale of 1,000 items from the castle.
Blair is the oldest continually inhabited mansion in Scotland and the home of the Barony of Blair, where the current family can trace their ancestry back to William the Lion (1165).
The then-12-year-old queen wrote to the Laird of Blair in 1552
The 450 year old letter from Mary Queen of Scots relieves the then Laird of Blair from his duties at court due to gout and is dated March 20, 1554.
Gavin Strang, Director of Lyon & Turnbull said “The sale has a total estimate of £500,000 and is a unique glimpse at Scottish history through the ages, it includes things from ‘above and below stairs’ making this the ‘sale of the century’, as nothing has been sold by the family for over 900 years.”
Other items in the sale include a bizarre exercise machine dating from the early 19th century valued at £1,200 and a pair of silver dog collars won by the laird for hare coursing in Yorkshire dated 1815 and valued at £5,000, as well as Georgian and French furniture, a collection of rare stirrup cups and silver from the early 18th to the 19th centuries.
Auctioneers expect the letter to fetch £3000 © Deadline News
Mr Strang continued “This will be one of the more exciting sales of 2012, as all the items in the sale including antiques, paintings, silver and books are fresh to the market. We have 900 years of history for sale. As with any good Country House Sale there will be pieces long forgotten, that we have uncovered in the attics and cellars of the Castle.”
The current owners of the property Luke and Caroline Borwick said “It’s a wonderful place, full of wonderful things, but sadly as we have sold the Castle we cannot take them with us.”
Luke Borwick is descended from the first Norman knight who established the castle in 1105.
The couple, who have lived in the castle for the past 11 years, sold the house so that they could spend more time in London with their grandchildren.
She continued “Obviously we hope that every single item goes to someone who will treasure them as much as we have. We are merely custodians of these beautiful things and it is time, after 900 years, to pass the responsibility on to others.”