Tixall Gatehouse is a 16th-century gatehouse situated at Tixall, near Stafford, Staffordshire and is all that remains of Tixall Hall which was demolished in 1927. The gatehouse is a Grade I listed building. Tixall was used as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots for two weeks in 1586.
The manor of Tixall was held for many years by the Littleton family until 1507 when the Littleton heiress married Sir John Aston. The medieval manor house was replaced by Sir Edward Aston, High Sheriff of Staffordshire, in about 1555 and the Gatehouse was added in about 1580. The Gatehouse is a three-story rectangular structure, the balustraded facade of which is decorated with three orders of twinned columns. There are four octagonal corner turrets topped with cupolas and weather vanes.
The Astons were later raised to the baronetage and to the peerage, with the title Lord Aston of Forfar.Walter Aston, 2nd Lord Aston of Forfar became a recusant Catholic. After his death it was alleged, as part of the bogus accusations in the Popish Plot, that he received Jesuits at Tixall, and in August and September 1677 held meetings at Tixall attended by William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford and Aston's steward Stephen Dugdale where the assassination of Charles II was plotted. Amidst the Popish Plot allegations, one contemporary witness, William Skelton, described finding Dugdale and Stafford talking alone together in the Little Parlour and the Great Parlour (a dining-room next to Aston's chamber) at Tixall in September 1678. A letter from Stafford mentioning a plot was allegedly found in Aston's study.
On the death of the sixth Lord Aston the estate passed to his sister, who had married Thomas Clifford (see Clifford-Constable baronets). Clifford replaced the old house with a new mansion in about 1780 but retained the Tudor Gatehouse. Several local families were descended from the Astons, including the Levetts of Lichfield (and later of Wychnor Park).
The Cliffords sold the Tixall estate to Earl Talbot of nearby Ingestre Hall in about 1835 and thereafter the property was let out to tenants. The Hall itself was demolished in 1927, leaving only the Gatehouse standing, and the estate was broken up when sold off piecemeal in 1960. In 1968 the Landmark Trust bought the Gatehouse which, following restoration, is now available for holiday lets.
Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here for two weeks in 1586. Her jailer Amias Paulet had gone to assess the hall in September 1585 as a more permanent residence. Paulet thought the house was suitable but argued it would be a pity to make Sir Walter Aston and his household of 100 persons move out, as his high standing and religion was good for the region. Aston argued that the move would disturb his farming and he would be forced to sell his sixty cattle and his plough oxen.
On 11 August 1586, the English authorities decided to act on the Babington plot. Mary was out riding from Chartley with Bastian Pagez, her doctor Dominique Bourgoing and others, and they were surprised by armed soldiers who took them to Tixall in order to search Mary's rooms at Chartley and seize her papers.An account of the affair by the French ambassador Châteauneuf calls Tixall "Norbethilsal".
Francis Walsingham sent an order to Paulet from Windsor Castle on 25 September 1586 not to take Mary back to Chartley and keep her at Tixall as Elizabeth planned for Mary to go to Fotheringhay Castle. Paulet had taken Mary back to Chartley, however, before the new orders. As she left Tixall with Paulet and Walter Aston, Mary wept and said to some poor people at Tixall's gate, "I have nothing for you, I am a beggar as well as you, all is taken from me."
Lord Aston of Forfar was a title in the Peerage of Scotland. The barony was created on 28 November 1627 for Sir Walter Aston, Bt, who had been previously created Baronet of Tixall Hall, Staffordshire on 22 May 1611.
Walter Aston, 1st Lord Aston of Forfar was an English courtier and diplomat.
Walter Aston, 2nd Lord Aston of Forfar was the second and eldest surviving son of Walter Aston, 1st Lord Aston of Forfar, and Gertrude Sadleir, daughter of Sir Thomas Sadleir of Standon, Hertfordshire, and his second wife Gertrude Markham. Lady Aston was the granddaughter of the noted Elizabethan statesman Sir Ralph Sadler.
Walter Aston, 3rd Lord Aston of Forfar was the eldest son of Walter Aston, 2nd Lord Aston of Forfar, and his wife Lady Mary Weston, daughter of Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland. He is best remembered today as a fortunate survivor of the Popish Plot.
Walter Aston, 4th Lord Aston of Forfar was the eldest surviving son of Walter Aston, 3rd Lord Aston of Forfar, and his first wife Eleanor Blount of Soddington, daughter of Sir Walter Blount, 1st Baronet.
Hugh Clifford, 3rd Baron Clifford of Chudleigh of Ugbrooke House near Chudleigh in Devon, was a peer.
Tixall is a small village and civil parish in the Stafford district, in the English county of Staffordshire lying on the western side of the Trent valley between Rugeley and Stone, Staffordshire and roughly 4 miles east of Stafford. The population of the civil parish taken at the 2011 census was 239.
William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford, FRS was the youngest son of Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel, and his wife, the former Alethea Talbot. A Fellow of the Royal Society from 1665, he was a Royalist supporter before being falsely implicated by Titus Oates in the later discredited "Popish Plot", and executed for treason. He was beatified as a Catholic martyr by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
Chartley Castle lies in ruins to the north of the village of Stowe-by-Chartley in Staffordshire, between Stafford and Uttoxeter. Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned on the estate in 1585. The remains of the castle and associated earthworks are a Scheduled Monument, the site having been protected since 1925. The castle itself is a Grade II* listed building
Gilbert Gifford was a double agent who worked for Sir Francis Walsingham and played a role in the uncovering of the Babington Plot. Shortly before his death in Paris, he was ordained as a Catholic priest in Rheims. His true allegiances, whether to Queen Elizabeth I or to Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Catholic cause – are unclear.
Richard Gerard of Hilderstone, Staffordshire was a victim of the Popish Plot of the reign of Charles II of England. He was a Roman Catholic recusant landowner in Staffordshire, and came forward as a witness in the defence of the accused Catholic aristocrat, William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford, which led to his own death in prison, although he had never been brought to trial.
Stephen Dugdale (1640?-1683) was an English informer, and self-proclaimed discoverer of parts of the Popish Plot. He perjured himself on numerous occasions, giving false testimony which led to the conviction and execution of numerous innocent men, notably the Catholic nobleman Lord Stafford, the Jesuit Provincial Thomas Whitbread, and the prominent barrister Richard Langhorne.
Arthur Clifford (1778–1830) was an English antiquarian.
Andrew Bromwich was an English Roman Catholic priest. He was a survivor of the Popish Plot, and the founder of the Oscott Mission in Staffordshire, which later became St. Mary's College, Oscott.
Sir John de Aston, K.B. of Heywood, Staffordshire, was a soldier of great eminence during the reigns of Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII. He served three times as Sheriff of Staffordshire and once as Sheriff of Leicestershire and Warwickshire.
Sir Walter Aston, DL, JP, of Tixall and Heywood, Staffordshire, was a Knight of the Shire and Sheriff of Staffordshire.
Sir Edward Aston of Tixall, Staffordshire was Sheriff of Staffordshire.
Sir Edward Aston built and resided at Tixall House, Staffordshire. He served four terms as Sheriff of Staffordshire.
Jérôme Pasquier was a French servant of Mary, Queen of Scots, involved in writing and deciphering coded letters.