Rare needlework panel of Mary Queen of Scots at the Battle of Langside


Hand-crafted using an intricate technique and an unusual combination of materials, the piece portrays an important part of 16th century English history.


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This large historical wool and glass bead needlework picture panel was handmade by the female members of the Stark family in Scotland around 1870.

Inspired by a painting by the renowned artist Charles Landseer (English, 1799-1879) the needlework depicts the army of Mary Queen of Scots being defeated by Regent Moray at Langside in 1568. This was a very significant historical event because it led to Mary’s flight to England and the imprisonment executed by Elizabeth I in the same year as the battle.

The needlework is executed in multi-coloured wools in tent stitch. Detailing such as knight’s armour, Mary’s jewellery or shadows are emphasized with the use of glass beads. The implementation of such material is unusual and would have increased the time and effort required to complete this piece.

The original painting by Landseer was most likely inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘The Abbot’ from 1820. After the painting’s first public presentation, the artwork inspired four versions executed by embroiderers which were displayed at the infamous Great Exhibition in 1851. The topics depicted continued to be popular subjects for embroiderers throughout the rest of the 19th century, a testament to this being the exquisite piece in Mayfair Gallery’s collection.

The embroidered panel was crafted by the female members of the Stark family, most likely the six elder sisters Helen, Isobel, Elizabeth, Annie, Mary, Jessie and Margaret Stark. The family lived in the affluent ‘West End’ of Glasgow in the second half of the 19th century.

The piece is mounted in a superb giltwood frame, topped with the crown of St Edward surrounded with laurel. Each of the four corners is adorned with blue, red and gold detailing as well as a thistle motif. A plaque painted with an inscription: ‘QUEEN MARY / Weeping Over the Dying / DOUGLASS / at the Battle of Langside / 1568' is visible in the centre of the lower border.

Very similar needlework panels are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum pieces were executed from a ‘Berlin woolwork’ kit, which included a colour-coded canvas on which to embroider using coloured wool. The piece in Mayfair Gallery’s collection was likely crafted in a similar manner.  

The use of unusual materials and the depiction of a significant historical event makes this a rare and very desirable decorative object, superb for the appropriate interior.

Panel: Height 107cm, width 150cm, depth 2cm
Frame: Height 155cm, width 187cm, depth 20cm


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
c. 1870
Late 19th Century
Battle / War, Figurative Art, Royal / Monarchy
Glass, Wood, Wool
Gold, Multi-coloured


155 cm / 61 inches
187 cm / 73.6 inches
20 cm / 7.9 inches


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