Picture Perfect Powerscourt Hosting Two Films
Powerscourt is currently hosting two film crews at the beautiful Estate. Both are based on the lives of two of history’s most famous and tragic women; Mary Queen of Scots and Mary Shelley. Both are sumptuously costumed and look very much at home in the beautiful Gardens and at the rugged, Wicklow parkland setting of the Waterfall.
A Storm in the Stars features the impossibly handsome Douglas Booth, currently on cinema screens in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Elle Fanning (Dakota’s younger sister) as Mary Shelley. Mary was inspired to write her most famous book, and the first science fiction novel, during a summer she and Percy spent in 1816 in Italy with Lord Byron. One of Lord Byron’s closest friends from his school days was John Wingfield, son of the 4th Viscount Powerscourt. Mary would have been aware of the epitaph Lord Byron wrote in memory of his friend who died aged twenty of fever (rather than in battle which Byron laments in his poem) in Portugal in 1811. Byron said he had “known him ten years, the better half of his life, and the happiest part of mine”. At the time of his death, John Wingfield was serving as an ensign with the famous Coldstream Guards in Wellington’s campaign to oust Napoleon’s army from Portugal.
Also filming at Powerscourt at the moment is Reign, an American historical fantasy romance television series very loosely based on the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots when she lived in France. The costumes are absolutely gorgeous and the stars are all very beautiful too! In reality Mary led a very tragic and unfortunate life and was eventually, after over eighteen years imprisoned in various castles, found guilty of plotting to assassinate her cousin Elizabeth I, and was beheaded.
Mary’s tragic life would have been well known to Sir Richard Wingfield, 1st Viscount Powerscourt. There were many career soldiers like Richard with impressive military careers vying for the opportunity to impress Queen Elizabeth I and gain land and title. It was a grand romantic gesture, as Sir Walter Raleigh did previously with his cloak, which elevated Richard above the other hungry, poetic courtiers in the eyes of the Virgin Queen.
When this wounded, loyal and successful subject was asked by his Queen how she should reward her “faithful and beloved soldier” he humbly replied “the scarf which Your Majesty wears will be sufficient reward for me”. In 1600 she made him Marshal of Ireland and he oversaw the defeat and exile of the Gaelic Lords and the carving up and “planting” of their lands with loyal British Protestants. Mary Queen of Scot’s son, King James I, rewarded Wingfield's further triumphs against the Gaelic Lords on 29 June 1609 with the grant of the castle and manor of Powerscourt in perpetuity, replacing the 21 year lease from Elizabeth I dating from 1603.