THE WOULD-BE QUEENS
OF THE MIDLANDS
|Tragedy awaited Arbella, pictured here
in reconstruction with Bess
women from the East Midlands both claimed the Crown of England
in the 16th Century. Most people have heard of Lady Jane Grey,
but what of the obscure Arbella? Inside Out investigated.
story starts at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, which today towers over the
M1 motorway. It was one of the homes of the formidable Bess who'd built
it to show off her wealth and status.
a marriage between her daughter, Elizabeth, and Charles Stuart, the brother
of Mary, Queen of Scots' husband, Lord Darnely.
to the crown.
of Charles Stuart had a claim to the succession after the death of the
childless Elizabeth I, and so a hurried marriage was arranged at Rufford
Abbey in Nottinghamshire.
Arbella Stuart was born in 1575. Her early life was marred by tragedy
after both her parents died and she was brought to live at Hardwick under
the guardianship of her grandmother Bess.
And it was
here that she was educated to believe that she was going to be next Queen
of England - a claim that was ultimately to destroy her life.
She grew to hate her grandmother.
as a child
Sarah Gristwood told Inside Out: "By her late twenties Arbella was
still unmarried and being kept virtual prisoner.
became increasingly frustrated with her life and grew to hate her grandmother.
She was desperate to take control of her life and started plotting to
leave Hardwick, get a husband and possibly to make her own claim for the
word of her plans reached the court of Elizabeth I."
regarded as a threat to the court and the only freedom she had was through
Elizabeth died in 1603 and James VI of Scotland became King, Arbella still
wasn't free - since any children she had would still have a claim to the
Drastic action was her downfall
So she took
drastic action which led to her death in the Tower of London.
of Arbella's letters
When she was 35 and James I was on the English throne,
Arbella married William Seymour.
So great was the panic at court at the prospect of a new
and threatening dynasty that they were deliberately separated shortly
after their marriage.
Abbey in Nottinghamshire there's a White Lady who's said to haunt the
ruin. Local folklore says its Arbella Stuart - England's Lost Queen.