A collection of priceless historic treasures, including a set of rosary beads carried by Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution in 1587, has been stolen from Arundel Castle.
At 10.30pm on Friday 21 May, the sounding of a burglar alarm alerted staff to a break-in at the 11th-century castle in West Sussex. Police arrived within minutes and discovered that various gold and silver artefacts were missing from a broken display cabinet.
Amongst the stolen treasures was a set of gold rosary beads carried by Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution at Fotheringhay Castle in 1587, as well as several coronation cups gifted by Mary to the Duke of Norfolk, who was also Earl Marshall.
Arundel Castle has been the seat of the Earl of Arundel for more than 850 years, and the ancestral home of the Dukes of Norfolk since the 16th-century. Thomas Howard inherited the Dukedom of Norfolk in 1554. However, the crown seized Arundel upon his execution in 1572 for conspiring to marry Mary, Queen of Scots. The castle was later returned to the Howard successors.
Mary herself was executed after 18 years of imprisonment for her involvement in a plot to help her seize the throne from Queen Elizabeth I.
Sussex Police said in a statement: ‘The rosary is of little intrinsic value as metal, but as a piece of the Howard family history and the nation’s heritage it is irreplaceable.’
A spokesperson for Arundel Castle said: ‘The stolen items have significant monetary value, but as unique artefacts of the Duke of Norfolk’s collection have immeasurably greater and priceless historical importance.’
Arundel Castle was only recently reopened to the public on 18 May after five months of closure as a result of the pandemic.
Sussex Police have appealed to the public for any information that could assist in the recovery of the treasures.