New Mary Queen of Scots filmed in Derbyshire

Credit: Parisa Tag / Focus Features

Visitors to the Peak District and Derbyshire can celebrate the launch of a fascinating new film about Mary Queen of Scots by following in the footsteps of the real Mary Stuart and her guardian Bess of Hardwick.

The UK release of the film today offers the perfect excuse to book an early Easter break and stay in or visit places connected to the ill-fated queen and her formidable ‘minder’, together with the chance to visit famous film locations in the area.

Directed by Josie Rourke and filmed in England and Scotland – including at Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield and Haddon Hall near Bakewell – the film positions the Peak District and Derbyshire firmly in the spotlight as a place where visitors can step into the shoes of their favourite movie stars.

During her 15-year captivity, Mary Stuart (1542 – 1587) was under the guardianship of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury and his Derbyshire-born wife Elizabeth, known as Bess of Hardwick, at various places in and around the Peak District and Derbyshire.

Mary was held at locations including Chatsworth, Wingfield Manor and the Old Hall Hotel in Buxton, England’s oldest hotel. Due to a mystery illness, Mary was permitted to ‘take the healing waters’ at Buxton and visited the Derbyshire spa town most years between 1573 and 1584. Copies of writing that Mary etched onto a window pane at the Old Hall Hotel can still be seen today.

Produced by Working Title Films and released in the UK by Universal Pictures, the new Mary Queen of Scots movie stars Saoirse Ronan as the eponymous monarch, with Margot Robbie as her cousin and rival Queen Elizabeth.

The film also features Jack Lowden as Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley, David Tennant as Protestant cleric John Knox and Joe Alwyn as Queen Elizabeth’s counsellor and lover, Robert Dudley.

You can see a trailer of the film here.

Haddon Hall and the National Trust’s Hardwick Hall were used in scenes representing Hampton Court Palace – with Haddon’s beautiful medieval Long Gallery used in shots with actress Margot Robbie (Queen Elizabeth I).

The Long Gallery at Haddon Hall

Private rooms at Haddon, including the Boot Room, were also used as the interior of Lord Darnley’s Chamber at Holyrood; the anteroom to the State bedroom was used as a servant prep room; and the entrance and lower courtyard were used as a makeshift camp.

At Hardwick, the hall and grounds were used as external shots of Hampton Court Palace, including a scene where Queen Elizabeth I is standing on the roof of Hardwick Hall.

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, Picture National Trust Images by Andrew Butler

The Peak District and Derbyshire has inspired filmmakers for generations and has been the backdrop for many famous films and TV dramas including Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess, The Other Boleyn Girl, Elizabeth, The Princess Bride and Jane Eyre.

As well as inspiring a visit to the local locations where the movie was filmed, the release of Mary Queen of Scots also coincides with the start of a second phase of a new exhibition highlighting modern women’s take on Bess of Hardwick’s compelling story at the National Trust’s Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield.

‘We are Bess’ – including portraits and observations from women such as broadcaster Professor Mary Beard and Channel 4 news presenter Cathy Newman – will reopen at Hardwick from February 16 to June 2.

Shrewd businesswoman Bess (1527 – 1608) was the second wealthiest woman in England and one of the most powerful women of her time. She built the first house on the Chatsworth Estate, together with her second husband Sir William Cavendish, and later constructed Hardwick Hall, ‘more glass than wall’. She also designed her own memorial in Derby Cathedral, where she was buried.

“The Peak District and Derbyshire has strong ties with both Mary Queen of Scots and her guardian Bess of Hardwick, so now is the perfect time for history lovers and film fans to book and look forward to staying in and visiting some of the places linked with this fascinating character from history,” said Jo Dilley, Managing Director, Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire.

“Many of our historic attractions, such as Chatsworth, Hardwick Hall, the Old Hall Hotel in Buxton and Derby Cathedral, are connected with the original story, while the new film and exhibition offer a modern take on both women’s fascinating lives, so there are plenty of amazing links to appeal to visitors of all ages.”

Other famous film and TV locations in the area include:
Chatsworth: Pride and Prejudice (film 2005, BBC TV series 1995), The Duchess (2008), The Wolfman (2009) and BBC TV drama Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

Haddon Hall: Jane Eyre (2011), The Princess Bride (1987), Elizabeth (1998), Pride and Prejudice (2005) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Stanage Edge: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Lyme Park: Pride and Prejudice (1995), The Awakening (2011) and BBC TV drama The Village (2014)

Hardwick Hall: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (2010)

Kedleston Hall: The Duchess (2008) and Jane Eyre (BBC TV series 2006)

Dovedale, Lindale and Ilam Hall: Robin Hood (2010), Jane Eyre (BBC TV series 2006) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Derwent Valley: The Dam Busters (1955)

Matlock Bath: Skeletons (2010)

Hadfield: The League of Gentlemen BBC TV series (1999 – 2002) and film (2005).

North Lees Hall: Pride and Prejudice (2005) andThe Other Boleyn Girl (2008).

Sudbury Hall: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Go to to find out more.