Love Reigns the Stars at Romantic Powerscourt
Powerscourt is delighted to host two film crews, bringing much needed revenue to the locality in these quiet months, at the beautiful Estate. Both are based on the lives of two of history’s most famous and tragic women; Mary Queen of Scots and Mary Shelley. Both are sumptuously costumed and look very much at home in the beautiful Gardens and at the rugged, Wicklow parkland setting of the Waterfall.
Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth
A Storm in the Stars features the impossibly handsome Douglas Booth, currently on cinema screens in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as Percy Bysshe Shelley and Elle Fanning (Dakota’s younger sister) as Mary Shelley. Mary was inspired to write her most famous book, and the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein, during a summer she and Percy spent in 1816 in Italy with Lord Byron.
Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth
One of Lord Byron’s closest friends from his school days, was John Wingfield son of the 4th Viscount Powerscourt. Mary would have been aware of the epitaph Lord Byron wrote in memory of his friend who died aged twenty of fever (rather than in battle which Byron laments in his poem) in Portugal in 1811. Byron claimed to have “known him ten years, the better half of his life, and the happiest part of mine”. At the time of his death, John Wingfield was serving as an ensign with the famous Coldstream Guards in Wellington’s campaign to oust Napoleon’s army from Portugal. Byron later dedicated an epitaph to him in his famous poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, published less than three years later.
“And thou, my friend! - since unavailing woe
Bursts from my heart, and mingles with the strain -
Had the sword laid thee with the mighty low,
Pride might forbid e'en Friendship to complain:
But thus unlaurel'd to descend in vain,
By all forgotten, save the lonely breast,
And mix unbleeding with the boasted slain,
While Glory crowns so many a meaner crest!
What hadst thou done to sink so peacefully to rest?”
In a poem from 1805, “Childish Recollections”, Byron dedicated some sixteen lines to “Alonzo!” (John), the “best and dearest of my friends”.
“Friend of my heart, and foremost of the list
Of those with whom I lived supremely blest;
Oft have we drain'd the font of ancient lore,
Though drinking deeply, thirsting still the more;
Yet, when Confinement's lingering hour was done,
Our sports, our studies, and our souls were one:
Together we impell'd the flying ball,
Together waited in our tutor's hall;
Together join'd in cricket's manly toil,
Or shar'd the produce of the river's spoil;
Or plunging from the green declining shore,
Our pliant limbs the buoyant billows bore:
In every element, unchang'd, the same,
All, all that brothers should be, but the name”.
Also filming at Powerscourt at the moment is Reign, an American historical fantasy romance television series very loosely based on the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots when she lived in France. The costumes are absolutely gorgeous and the stars are all very beautiful too! In reality Mary led a very tragic and unfortunate life.
Mary, Queen of Scots (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587), also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland, was Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567 and Queen consort of France from 10 July 1559 to 5 December 1560.
Mary Queen of Scots
Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of King James V of Scotland, was six days old when her father died and she acceded to the throne. She spent most of her childhood in France while Scotland was ruled by regents, and in 1558, she married the Dauphin of France, Francis. He ascended the French throne as King Francis II in 1559, and Mary briefly became queen consort of France, until his death in December 1560. Widowed, Mary returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on 19 August 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but their union was unhappy. In February 1567, his residence was destroyed by an explosion, and Darnley was found murdered in the garden.
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was generally believed to have orchestrated Darnley's death, but he was acquitted of the charge in April 1567, and the following month he married Mary. Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On 24 July 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favour of James, her one-year-old son by Darnley. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southwards seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary had previously claimed Elizabeth's throne as her own and was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Catholics, including participants in a rebellion known as the Rising of the North. Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had her confined in various castles and manor houses in the interior of England. After eighteen and a half years in custody, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, and was subsequently beheaded.
Richard Wingfield 1st Viscount Powerscourt
In reality Mary led a very tragic, unfortunate life and her story would have been well known to Sir Richard Wingfield, 1st Viscount Powerscourt. There were many career soldiers like Richard with impressive military careers vying for the opportunity to impress Queen Elizabeth I and gain land and title. It was a grand romantic gesture, as Sir Walter Raleigh did previously with his cloak, which elevated Richard above the other hungry, poetic courtiers in the eyes of the Virgin Queen.
James I England (James VI Scotland)
When this wounded, loyal and successful subject was asked by his Queen how she should reward her “faithful and beloved soldier” he humbly replied “the scarf which Your Majesty wears will be sufficient reward for me”. In 1600 she made him Marshal of Ireland and he oversaw the defeat and exile of the Gaelic Lords and the carving up and “planting” of their lands with loyal British Protestants. Mary Queen of Scot’s son, King James I, rewarded Wingfield's further triumphs against the Gaelic Lords on 29 June 1609 with the grant of the castle and manor of Powerscourt in perpetuity, replacing the 21 year lease from Elizabeth I dating from 1603. Richard would have loved the beautiful costumes and people at Powerscourt this week!
Torrance Coombs and friend having fun on set at Powerscourt!