Retirement and Hobbies

Entertainment and Culture for April

Exhibitions to Visit in April

By Phyllis Oberman, Art Aficionado

Phyllis Oberman looks at some of the fabulous art and exhibitions you can visit in April. There are so many wonderful and different things for you to enjoy. 

Master of Light

In 1908 he was declared ‘The World’s ‘Greatest Living Painter’ when the Spanish Impressionist painter, Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida ( 1863 – 1923) held his first London exhibition at The Grafton Galleries.

Now more than 100 years later The National Gallery London presents Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light opening on 18th March, 2019.    Paintings sparkling with light from across his whole career fill all the galleries in the Sainsbury Wing of The National Gallery.

These works of art come from galleries around the world including the Museo Sorolla in Madrid  based in the house that he designed for his family.

Summer 1904, Joaquin Sorolla, © Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, La Habana, Cuba

Sorolla saw himself as following in the footsteps of great Spanish masters Velasquez and Goya, both of whom he studied throughout his life. He was also one of the artists who influenced the young Picasso.

Clotilde Strolling in the Gardens of La Granja, 1907, © Museo Nacional
de Bellas Artes, La Habana, Cuba

He was fascinated by the effects of sunlight on Spanish beaches and often painted his wife Clotilde and their three children strolling and playing on the shore.

After the Bath, The Pink Robe, Joaquin Sorolla 1916, Museo Sorolla, Madrid

This panorama of an exhibition continues until 7th July 2019. During the show The National Gallery has a series of talks and events. 

For further information visit

Concessionary tickets are available.

Call to Arms

The Wallace Collection in London is renowned for its huge range of historic arms and armour as well as its world-famous paintings and European fine and decorative art. The great British sculptor Henry Moore (1896 – 1986) was a regular visitor to the gallery when a student and during his early career in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  

The arms and armour were his main target and a fascination with ancient helmets led him to sketch and then create a series of works that became his Helmet Heads.

Portrait of Henry Moore with Helmet Head No.2 Reproduced by
permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

For the first time an exhibition Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads from 6th March to 23rd June brings together Moore’s artworks with the original Renaissance armour that inspired him. Also on show at The Wallace Collection are his drawings, maquettes and full size sculptures in plaster, lead and bronze.  

Created in conjunction with the Henry Moore Foundation this show which includes an ancient Greek helmet from the 7th century BC also includes helmets as worn by Moore when he served in the First World War.

Sallet or Barbuta, North Italian c.1450 © The Wallace Collection

A series of lectures, seminars, art classes and performances will take place during the course of the exhibition. For full details visit

Concessionary tickets are available.

Helmet Head No.1, 1950 bronze. Photograph © Tate, London, 2018
Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

British Life Reflected

He was known as the English ‘post-impressionist’ but Harold Gilman’s realistic painting was so much more. A major exhibition: Harold Gillman: Beyond Camden Town at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester opening on 2nd March shows how Gilman portrayed domestic life in the early 1900’s.

Tea in the Bedsitter, 1916, by Harold Gilman, Kirklees
Collection, Huddersfield Art Gallery

Though a member of The Camden Town Group of artists, Gillman (1876 – 1919) steered his work away from the gloomier view depicted by some of his fellow painters and towards the more colourful style of French and other continental painters like Vuillard and Van Gogh.  

Tragically Gillman died during the ‘flu pandemic in 1919 cutting short his brilliant career. This exhibition marks the centenary of his death.

The Shopping List, c.1912 by Harold Gilman (British Council)

One of the talks at The Pallant gallery during the run of the show will explore the major influences on Gillman’s later career – Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne.

Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord, c.1913, by Harold Gilman, Tate London

This exhibition continues at Chichester until 9th June 2019. Details of talks and other related events can be found at    

Concessionary tickets are available and Art Fund card holders enter for half-price,

How Britain Shaped Him

In his early 20’s Vincent Van Gogh (1853 1890) spent three years in London as a trainee art dealer. He was entranced by British art, culture and life.

His time as a lodger in Brixton, south London saw him avidly reading Dickens and scouring London galleries for inspiration from artists like Constable and Millais. He is also said to have fallen in love with his landlady’s daughter.

Vincent Van Gogh: Self-portrait, 1887, Paris Musee d’Orsay © RMN

Van Gogh was rejected by this first love and also lost his job in Covent Garden thought to be because of his ineptitude with customers. These two disappointments affected him deeply and he soon returned to Europe.

He gradually moved towards life as an artist when he lived in Paris and mixed with and learned from many well-known French artists of the day.

Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888 ©The National Gallery

Tate Britain opens Van Gogh and Britain on 27th March 2019 – the first major show of this artists work for almost a decade. While Vincent absorbed much of British culture – the art scene and literature, it was not until after his death that his work was shown in an important London exhibition in 1910.     

From this time on his brilliant colourful paintings began to influence British artists seeing his distinct work for the first time.  Vincent’s iconic sunflowers inspired British artists and this exhibition includes pictures following his lead.   

Francis Bacon: Study for Portrait of Van Gogh IV, Tate © The Estate of Francis Bacon

Undoubtedly Van Gogh and Britain will be a ‘blockbuster’ and Tate Britain advises booking well in advance. The exhibition runs from 27th March 2019 to 11th August, 2019.     

A range of special events, talks, tours and films are available during this period.  

For full information including details of concessionary tickets visit

Stitched In Time

On show just until 21st April, 2019 is a revealing collection of samplers stitched in the 18th and 19th Centuries by children in Scotland.  

Embroidered Stories: Scottish Samplers at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh comes from a massive collection of samplers from Europe and North America gathered by American philanthropist Leslie B Durst.

Janet Learmonth, Linlithgow, 1765, from the Leslie B Durst Collection

These embroidered samplers were stitched mostly by young girls as part of their education and to tell family stories, often revealing the stitchers name, home town and family mottos.   

Margaret Eiston, Ayr, 1810

One of the early samplers says, “I have power to defend myself and others, 1765”.  

The Museum has produced a useful book of the exhibition with the same title.

Isabella Cook, Argyll, 1836, one of a pair both depicting a zebra

Entrance to this exhibition is free.  

For further details visit

In Miniature

Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver is a major exhibition of exquisite tiny portraits at The National Portrait Gallery, London.

Dating back 400 years these small portraits and scenes fit into the palm of the hand, and are often seen as private love tokens though others are worn round the neck or as brooches.

Sir Walter Ralegh by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1585 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The two key artists whose work is displayed in this exhibition are Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619) who was Queen Elizabeth I’s official painter of miniature portraits and later fulfilled the same role for King James I.  

Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard, 1572 © National
Portrait Gallery

Isaac Oliver who was a Huguenot refugee from France was a pupil of Hilliard and was appointed miniaturist to Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I.

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester by Nicholas Hilliard, 1576 © National
Portrait Gallery, London

Painted in amazing detail and with colours retained over 400 years, these miniatures reveal much about courtly fashion and society during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.   

Anne of Denmark by Isaac Oliver, c.1612 © National Portrait Gallery

A magnificent catalogue containing all the miniatures and more is on sale as well as prints of some of the miniatures. A number of talks and events can be booked.

The exhibition continues until 19th May 2019.  

For further details including concessionary tickets visit  

Children in View                

Two exhibitions illustrate how children have been portrayed over the past 500 years. Painting Childhood: From Holbein to Freud and Childhood Now is at Compton Verney, Warwickshire until 16th June, 2019 and Seen and Heard: Victorian Children in the Frame, is at Guildhall Art Gallery London until 28th April 2019.

Sir Anthony Van Dyck, The Five Eldest Children of Charles I, 1637
Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Another exhibition at Compton Verney is Childhood Now.

Chantal Joffe, Self Portrait with Vita and Esme on the Swings, 2015 © Chantal Joffe, Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London

At Guildhall Art Gallery the exhibition illustrates the changing view of portraying children in the Victorian era.  

Historically, children were dressed and treated as small adults, but Victorian children were depicted more realistically – some reflecting middle class comfort and others  showing the hard life of children in poverty working at menial jobs.

The Music Lesson by Frederic Leighton, 1877

For further information including details of talks, tours and other events visit and

Concessionary tickets are available at both venues.

Shining Steel

Milton Keynes will see the opening of the new MK Gallery on 16th March, 2019. This succeeds the original 1999 MK Gallery now incorporated into the updated and extended arts centre.  

The new gallery with its polished steel exterior has five new double-height spaces for major exhibitions, and will provide room for films, music, family events, workshops and social spaces.

The new MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

The first exhibition – The Lie of the Land – continues until 26th May, 2019. For further information visit  

At The British

Around the UK in galleries and museums exhibitions and events are being held to mark the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death. At The British Museum in London until 4th August, 2019 there is a show of Rembrandt’s prints and drawings – the biggest in the UK of his works on paper in 2019.  

For further information visit  

Picasso Endures

Eighty years ago Picasso painted a giant work “Guernica” probably his most famous artwork. This was his reaction to the devastatingly brutal bombing of the Spanish town Guernica by German planes during the Spanish Civil War.

A new free exhibition Guernica Remakings continues until 20th March, 2019 at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.  This show comprises examples of art from around the world that uses Guernica as inspiration for modern work.

For further information visit

Posters On The Tube

The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, London, is displaying one hundred illustrations for posters until 14th July, 2019. The show features the winners and the best of the 1,500 entries for the Poster Prize for Illustration 2019.  

The theme of the 2019 contest was ‘London Stories’. The winner of the £2000 prize is Eliza Southwood, an illustrator and architect for her poster: London is the Place for Me. This winning poster will be displayed on the London Underground.  

For details visit

London Is the Place for Me, by Eliza Southwood

Favourite Gallery or Museum

If you have a favourite local art gallery or museum that you would like to share with Sixtyplusurfers readers, please send the details to Phyllis Oberman care of Sixtyplusurfers to Jenny Itzcovitz at

Please label the subject of your email Favourite Art Gallery and Museum for Phyllis Oberman’s Sixtyplusurfers column.

Sixtyplusurfers Interview

Phil Vickery

By Jenny Itzcovitz

Phil Vickery, resident chef for ITV This Morning talks about his cooking, his favourite foods, and shares a delicious recipe for Tiramisu with Sixtyplusurfers

How old were you when you first started enjoying cooking? Who inspired you?

“I was 11 years old and it was simply my mum that inspired me. She used to always make cakes and I used to help, mainly licking the bowl!

I was supposed to be a doctor, I guess like my brother, but I wasn’t bright enough apparently. But cooking was something I just wanted to do, and I did it, and it’s been about 40 years now.”

When did you first join This Morning, and how did you get involved with the show?

“If I remember rightly, it was 1999 or maybe 2000. I think a chef they had was leaving at the time, and someone asked Fern [Britton] ‘Can your husband come in?’ and I’ve pretty much been doing two days a week ever since!

“I’m sure it’s my 20th year on This Morning this year.”

What do you enjoy most about being part of the This Morning team?

“Well no one really tells me what to do because I know about food. I just do what I do and I guess the spectrum of food I’ve got in my brain is vast.

So there’s no real prepping as such for me for recipes I’ve been doing for 40 years, but I have to keep up to date with the new stuff and ingredients.

“I still read the restaurant reviews and read books to see where trends are going.”

What is your favourite style of cooking and why do you like it?

“Easy, relaxed, simple and with shortcuts! Maybe one pot cooking. I spent years of my life in Michelin starred restaurants with really fancy fussy food, but nothing turns me off more now!

“Now I just want proper, decent, hearty, well-cooked tasty food.”

For many of us, diet is a key issue, do you have any tips you could recommend to enjoy good food but keep our weight down?

“There are many classic dishes like fish and chips, curry, lasagne, roasts, and cooked breakfasts, for example, that you can still have, but make them healthier by cutting the meat protein by half.

“It’s about portion size, so cutting that down and upping the veg portion will help. And certainly cut out the salt and learn to bulk it out with other vegetables that taste good.

“If you use half a stock cube, pepper and spices to taste for various dishes instead of adding salt or sugar that will help too.”

Do you have a simple and fun to make recipe you can share with our readers?

Tiramisu is a true classic recipe, and this one is made simple with Carnation Condensed Milk.

Normally you have to whisk egg whites, but this one sets perfectly without them and has a lighter texture than most recipes.


3 tsp Nescafe Espresso powder
5 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp coffee liqueur
300g tub low fat cream cheese
6 tbsp Carnation Condensed Milk
1 tsp natural vanilla extract (not essence)
8 sponge fingers
15g (½ oz) cocoa
You will also need 4 pretty cocktail or open wine glasses


1. Dissolve the coffee granules in two tablespoons of boiling water.

2. Tip into a large shallow dish with the coffee liqueur and the cold water. Mix together.

3. Beat the cream cheese with the condensed milk and vanilla.

4. Dip one sponge finger into the coffee mixture until soaked.

5. Break the sponge into the bottom of one of the glasses.

6. Top with a generous spoonful of the custard and a generous sprinkling of cocoa. Repeat the layers once more, finishing with the cocoa dusting. Use the remaining mixture to fill the other 3 glasses.

7. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

You could make one large Tiramisu and serve with some fresh peaches and raspberries.

This Morning has involved you travelling and sampling different kinds of cuisine. Where is your favourite place to visit, and what food have you enjoyed cooking the most?

“I have been to 32 different countries thanks to This Morning and it’s so hard to choose any favourites because each one is always a great experience generally! But I love the Far East.

“I remember cooking on a train just as the sun was coming up, and I’ve also cooked in the same market in George Town in Malaysia where Keith Floyd cooked and I pretty much did the same dish with cashew nuts, so that stuff has been amazing.

“We’ve done some fantastic barbeque stuff in America too… but I think the Far East and India are my favourites as I like that type of food.”

What are your hobbies when you aren’t working? Do you have any unusual interests?

“I am a football fan, I support Spurs, so I watch a lot of football, and I sometimes go to watch them.

“But generally, I just like being outdoors. It could be cutting hedges, cutting grass, walking my dog. I just crave the outside.”

What is your favourite food, and how do you like to prepare it?

“I like pot-roasted chicken, cottage pies, chops… simple food. I actually use my barbeque a lot during the winter. I used it yesterday!

“But I also like a lot of vegetarian food.”

What are you most looking forward to about returning to This Morning Live in Birmingham?

“I’ll be there Thursday 16th, Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th May, and I love meeting the viewers! And because it’s not recorded you can be a little bit more risky and tell a few jokes whilst cooking.

“It’s just great fun and a nice, relaxed atmosphere. I like to wind John Torode up a bit!”

Do you have a special message for readers of Sixtyplusurfers?

“Yes! I love Sixtyplusurfers, brilliant staff and readers. We’ve been in one another’s lives for a long time and I’m thrilled you’re still interested in me too!

“Keep reading, keep experimenting with flavours, enjoy cooking and look after yourselves. Speak again soon I’m sure!”

Catch Phil On This Morning, Weekdays, 10.30am, ITV.

For more information and for tickets to see This Morning Live just click on   

Chatsworth House Activities

Chatsworth 2019
It’s a dog’s life at ‘Chatswoof’

The Duchess and her dog, Max, a mixed terrier, photograph by Chatsworth House Trust

Man’s best friend will take centre stage at Chatsworth during 2019 as the Cavendish family celebrate their love of dogs over the centuries as part of an action-packed new season of events, activities and exhibitions.

The Dog: A Celebration at Chatsworth is a new exhibition of exceptional works from artists such as Constable, Stubbs, Gainsborough and Landseer sitting alongside contemporary pieces by David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Jeff Koons, Antony Gormley and Elisabeth Frink.

The Cavendish’s personal relationships with their dogs are featured in photographs, paintings and letters ranging from Duchess Georgiana in the 18th century to Duchess Deborah in the 20th and Duchess Amanda in the 21st.

Across the garden, parkland and wider estate, the #Chatswoof season will feature lots of opportunities to get involved from talks and tours; dog walks and dog agility as well as major events such as the Chatsworth Country Fair.

Chatsworth House and Garden open from 23rd March. Key dates for the diary for the 2019 season include:

Chatsworth season opening 23rd March 

Chatsworth House, Garden, Farmyard and Adventure Playground open for the 2019 season on 23 March. Over the winter, a deep clean of the house is undertaken to carry out vital conservation work on items in the collection as well as cleaning cornices, panelling, picture frames and other features that are difficult to access when the house is open to visitors.

The Dog: A Celebration at Chatsworth 23rd March – 6th October

Displaying a myriad of paintings and objects from letters, snuff boxes, jewellery, sculpture and ceramics to tapestries, drawings and painted ceilings this new exhibition celebrates the Cavendish family’s centuries-old relationship with dogs.

Star works from Constable, Stubbs, Gainsborough and Landseer sit alongside contemporary pieces by Lucian Freud, Jeff Koons, Antony Gormley and Elisabeth Frink to complete a wonderful celebration of dogs in art.

In the garden, the Duke and Duchess have commissioned the artist Ben Long to create an eight-foot-high scaffolding sculpture of a dog. Using the most ubiquitous of materials, this site-specific piece has a monumental scale and grace not normally associated with its construction material and is a vivid addition to the landscape.

Easter: 30th March – 28th April

There will be lots to see and do all across the garden and farmyard throughout the Easter holidays. Chatsworth is celebrating with its ever-popular Easter egg hunts, Eggspress Trailer rides and hands-on craft activities, as well as the Easter explorer map in the garden.

See the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials, 10 – 12 May

From elegant dressage and exciting show jumping to gripping cross country, Chatsworth International Horse Trials deliver world-class competition over three days of thrilling equestrian action, as well as entertainment for all the family in a beautiful setting.

Heritage crafts week at the farmyard from 25th – 31st May

Traditional rural skills such as dry-stone walling and fly tying are being demonstrated in hands-on sessions.

Visit the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show from 5th – 9th June

Innovative design and the very best of traditional rural crafts in the spectacular setting of Chatsworth’s parkland are the hallmarks of the RHS’s newest show, which returns for its third year.

Chatsworth is only 16 miles from the M1, 10 miles from Chesterfield, and 8 miles north of Matlock, in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park and is well served by transport links throughout the UK.

For a full list of activities and more information about Chatsworth House visit

The Hidden Side of Blenheim

Explore the Hidden Side of Blenheim Palace this Spring 

Blenheim Palace is inviting visitors to take a privileged peek inside the Private Apartments which have been lived in by the Dukes and Duchesses of Marlborough for more than 300 years.

The guided tours of some of the Palace’s most opulent and luxurious rooms provide an exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ look at life in this stunning Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Normally off-limits to visitors, the rooms provide a fascinating insight into family life at the Palace with their mix of precious antiques, tapestries and artworks amongst modern items and family photos.

Upstairs Tour

The ‘Upstairs’ Tour takes visitors on an exclusive tour of the rooms where the Marlborough family and their illustrious guests have stayed over the past 300 years. Previous guests have included Queen Mary, King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, as well as Cecil Beaton and Yves Saint Laurent.

Gain an insight into the daily routine of a guest at Blenheim Palace both past and present: what has changed and what remains the same? Find out why the dressing rooms have single beds in them, what’s the difference between ladies and gentlemen when it comes to breakfast and discover the quickest way to get a full laundry basket from the top floor down to the laundry in the Undercroft.

The tour includes the Duke’s Entrance through the Undercroft, Duke’s Dressing Room and Bedroom, Bow Window Room, Smoking Room, Duchess’ Sitting Room, the Nursery, Font Rooms, Tower Rooms, Bachelor Rooms, Servants’ Staircase and, twice a day, the opportunity to see the beautiful Grand Cabinet* with its stunning collection of furniture, art and artefacts.

Visitors will be able to discover family rooms such as the Blandford Bedroom, the Sunderland Dressing Room and Bachelors’ Row, which includes secret corridors, interlinking doors and spiral staircases.

Please note this tour is not suitable for young children or school groups. There is a climb of the spiral staircase with 75 steps involved, therefore this tour is not accessible for wheelchair users and others who may find difficulty in this.

Downstairs Tour

Downstairs Tour gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of Palace staff over the centuries.

Household staff were essential to the aristocratic way of life. Visitors can wander through the network of corridors and see the areas which are still in use by Palace staff today, including the kitchen.

Guests will see what it takes to keep a Palace running from organising shoots to preparing the family’s luggage for travel to getting a soufflé from the kitchen to the Saloon without it falling!

Learn about the bell board, a series of bells connected to various rooms around the palace to alert the butler, housekeeper and their teams to the requirements of family and guests; all different sizes so that skilled butlers and footmen could identify the bell by its tone without having to look.

Rooms on the tour include – The kitchen, laundry, butler’s pantry & boot room, billiard room and china room where building work on the Palace began on June 18th, 1705 and peer inside the vault where many of the most valuable pieces of the Palace collection are secured.

Guests will also be introduced to the mystery of the 8th Duke’s (‘The Wicked Duke’s’) Laboratory, it has a bell dedicated to it, but no one knows where it was actually located.

New for 2019 – Wine Cellars

See the private collection of wine and learn how it is selected, stored and served. Book in advance online or at the Welcome Desk or Great Hall on the day; Palace, Park and Gardens ticket is also required.

* Grand Cabinet tours are available twice per day and not on every tour, check with staff for details.

For details visit about Blenheim Palace tours visit

Rare Portrait at Hever Castle

New Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots
at Hever Castle

Dr David Starkey unveils rare portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots

432 years after she died in 1587 – a portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots is now on display at Hever Castle, in Kent. The extremely rare painting of the monarch – whose life story has been dramatized in the hit movie, Mary Queen of Scots, with actress Saoirse Ronan portraying her – will be officially unveiled in the castle’s Staircase Gallery by one of the world’s leading experts on Tudor history, Dr David Starkey.

Paintings of Mary created during her lifetime are few and far between, as Dr Starkey explains, “In Scotland, which she ruled in person as queen-regnant from 1561 to 1568, there were few painters of talent; while in England, where she spent the rest of her life, she was a political prisoner – though in 1578 she did manage to sit for an important portrait miniature by Nicholas Hillyard, which is the basis of almost all her subsequent images.”

Therefore, the majority of images portraying her are, for the most part, iconography – romanticised portraits commissioned by her son James I, following his accession to the English throne in 1603.

Hever Castle’s portrait was rediscovered in France, where it was unidentified and thought to date from the 17th century. However, dendrochronological examination of the oak panel on which the portrait is painted, revealed that it was created after 1547 (Mary was born in December 1542). Stylistic analysis further confirmed that this portrait was painted in the mid-16th century, making it a highly significant addition to her visual historical record.

The work is believed to come from the studio of François Clouet (c.1510 –1572), a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, particularly known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family. The discovery of this contemporary likeness of Mary Queen of Scots is particularly important as there are only two portraits of her in mourning – the second one (in full mourning) is in the Royal Collection. The Hever work shows Mary in a form of mourning, but not the full mourning seen in earlier portraits.

It was around this period that the famous ‘en deuil blanc’ (in white mourning) type of portrait became popular – this was a less strict form of mourning, which might have been worn at a later date following a bereavement. It is thought that Mary wearing ‘en deuil blanc’ was occasioned by the death of three close members of her family within eighteen months: her father-in-law Henri II (July 1559), her mother Mary of Guise (June, 1560) and then her husband, François II (December 1560). 

As the grand-daughter of Henry VIII’s elder sister Margaret Tudor, Mary had a strong claim to the English throne, which was, until the death of her first husband François II, in 1560, supported by the French. Following François’ death Mary’s position at court quickly waned and she returned to Scotland in 1561, where she held the title of Queen of Scotland.

Unfortunately for her, Mary’s reign in Edinburgh was marked by a series of disastrous romantic liaisons. In 1565 she married her cousin, Lord Darnley, but the union was unhappy, and in 1567 he was murdered. Only weeks later, Mary married James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, who was widely suspected of complicity in Darnley’s murder.

Mary was soon the subject of a rebellion and forced to abdicate in favour of her son James VI (of Scotland), who was just one year old, and a regency was established under Lord Moray. Mary fled to England, seeking the protection of her cousin, Elizabeth I, whom she believed would help regain her throne.

Mary’s presence inevitably raised English suspicions, not least because of her Catholic faith and previous pretensions to Elizabeth’s throne, and she was placed under house arrest for 19 years. In the 1580’s, she was implicated in two plots, apparently encouraging the assassination of Elizabeth I and her own accession with Spanish help. After much prevarication, Elizabeth finally ordered Mary’s execution, which took place on 8 February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.

David Starkey says, “This elegant portrait shows the 19-year-old Mary, as she was on her return to Scotland at the beginning of an extraordinary adventure which turned two kingdoms upside down and ended in her own execution at Fotheringhay 26 years later.”

For more information visit the website at  

Easter Craft Activity

Decorate Tiles with Easter Flowers at Jackfield Tile Museum

Create your own floral-themed designs at family drop-in tile decorating workshops during the Easter school holidays at Jackfield Tile Museum. These are part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s spring activities that are taking place across The Gorge over the Easter break.

Designs can be as colourful and original as your imagination allows, perhaps a bouquet of spring flowers, a garden scene or a big bold daffodil. The Victorian tube lining technique will be used to decorate the tiles, which is just like icing a cake! Once you’ve piped on the design you can add colourful glazes, then leave your tile at the museum where it will be fired in a kiln and posted to your home; or you can collect it from Jackfield if you live nearby.

Tiles are priced from £5 each (p&p extra to have your tile sent home after firing) plus museum admission fee. The fun and informal sessions take place Monday to Friday between 12 and 26 April starting from 10am, but allowing up to 1½ hours to decorate your tile, last admission is 2.30pm.

One of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Jackfield Tile Museum is open from 10am until 4pm. A great value Annual Passport Ticket allowing multiple visits into all 10 museums can be bought at the entrance or online in advance saving 5%.

Individual entry tickets are also available at each museum. Activities will vary from day-to-day and some additional costs will apply.

For details about Jackfield Tile Museum visit

Easter Crafts for Children

Paint Easter Spring Flowers at Coalport China Museum

If you’re looking for something crafty for the young ones entertained in April then go along to Coalport China Museum, near Ironbridge during the Easter school holidays from 13th to 28th April and join floral-themed ceramic family activities.

Young artists can decorate a money box, fridge magnet or paper plate with spring flowers such as daffodils, tulips and bluebells using quick drying paint. The daily sessions take place from 11am – 1pm and again between from 1.30pm – 3.30pm. Afterwards explore the museum’s many galleries.

The ceramic painting activities carry a charge of between £1 and £4 per item plus entry while the paper activities are included in your admission fee. You can take your finished items home with you on the day.

One of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Coalport China Museum is open from 10am until 4pm. A great value Annual Passport Ticket allowing multiple visits into all 10 museums can be bought at the entrance or online in advance saving 5%

Individual entry tickets are also available at each museum. Activities will vary from day-to-day and some additional costs will apply.

For further details about Coalport China Museum visit

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