Reproductions of rare examples of the Elizabethan equivalent of modern-day text messages – many of them said to be written by Mary Queen of Scots – have come to light in a new window at what is thought to be England’s oldest residential hotel.

Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, Chairman of VisitEngland, unveiled ‘Inscriptions on Glass’, a fascinating new feature at The Old Hall Hotel in the Peak District spa town of Buxton – where ill-fated Mary stayed at least five times in the 16th century – during a visit to Buxton Festival on Tuesday July 10.

Writings, sketches and symbols scratched on to a window in the hotel between 1573 and 1584, when Mary visited Buxton to take the waters, have been recreated 450 years later thanks to a written copy of the originals kept in the Portland Papers at Longleat, Wiltshire.

Sixteen of the 39 examples of window writing are said to have been written by Mary herself, including messages about her son James. Others are attributed to the Earl of Leicester, Sir Thomas Gerard, Frances Countess of Sussex and Lettice Countess of Essex.

Lady Cobham, who unveiled the new window to an invited audience including David James, Chief Executive of official tourist board Visit Peak District & Derbyshire, said: “It’s wonderful that, 450 years after they were originally written, these intriguing engraved messages are once again on show at what is said to be England’s oldest residential hotel, emphasizing the numerous links between the Peak District and one of history’s most fascinating figures. I’m sure they’ll be an engaging talking point for future visitors to the town and the area.”

Other speakers at the ceremony were Baroness Kay Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, and Councillor Caitlin Bisknell, Leader of High Peak Borough Council.

The project was instigated by Patrick Chapman, proprietor of the Grosvenor House B&B on Broad Walk, Buxton, and supported by the Bingham Trust and High Peak Borough Council. Patrick has also charted the history of the window writings – skilfully interpreted by engraver Charmain Mocatta of Ledbury, Wiltshire – in a new publication, Things Written in the Glasse Windowes at Buxton, now available from The Old Hall Hotel.


Note to News Editors

A high resolution image is attached for print media. Caption: Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, pictured with ‘Inscriptions on Glass’ (centre), along with (left to right) Councillor Caitlin Bisknell, Leader of High Peak Borough Council; Patrick Chapman of Grosvenor House B&B; David James, Chief Executive of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire and Baroness Kay Andrews, OBE, Chair of English Heritage.

Visit Peak District & Derbyshire – the area’s official tourist board – works with VisitBritain, VisitEngland, Derbyshire County Council, all local authorities in the Peak District and Derbyshire, tourism business partners and surrounding tourism organisations that share the Peak District. It is committed to the successful and sustainable development of tourism.

For further details, visit or contact Janette Sykes, PR Manager, on 07792 924839 or at

For more information about The Old Hall Hotel, visit


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