Glamis Castle in Angus, Scotland is famous for being the childhood home of the late Queen Mother and the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is still the home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the Bowes Lyon family. The current owner is Michael Fergus, 18th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
Angus is called Scotland’s birthplace because on April 6, 1320, the Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed by the Scottish nobility in Arbroath Abby in Angus. The Scots declared their nationhood and right to self-government and sent it to the Pope because they were trying to throw off the rule of Edward II of England.
Glamis (pronounced Glams as in glam rock or glamour) has been a Royal residence since 1372 when Sir John Lyon was granted the thaneage of Glamis by King Robert II. Four years later, he married the king’s daughter, Princess Joanna.
“The house from the greatness of its mass, the many towers atop, and the spread of its wings, has really a very singular and striking appearance, like nothing I ever saw.” Thomas Gray (1716 – 1771)
|Walking beneath the pleached alley of beech.|
|The perennial flower borders were extensive.|
|Lions stand guard over the gates.|
We saw this beautiful privately owned cottage along the way. We walked through more woods and to another bridge, then along a road that bordered the Highland cow pasture.
|bridge over the Water of Dean|
|An scenic view of the Highland cattle|
|Mama and baby|
Next it was time to eat lunch in the castle's Victorian Kitchen Restaurant and take a guided tour of the castle itself. The tour guide was very gifted with the art of revealing interesting and entertaining history as we walked through the many beautiful, opulent rooms. No photos were allowed inside, of course but I've found some online. We started our tour in the dining room. And then visited the drawing room. The most interesting painting was one where the 3rd Earl wished to be painted as if he were wearing leather armor that made him look naked, with rippling, bulging muscles. Hmm. Guess he wanted to be eye candy. This is said to be a Romanesque tunic, with lion epaulettes. Click here to see the painting. It was painted by Dutch artist Jacob de Wet in 1683. The earl's sons surround him and he gestures toward Glamis, the castle he restored and remodeled. If you look closely you will see the castle looks almost as it does now. This is made more interesting by the fact that this earl's father, the 2nd Earl, was one of the richest peers in Scotland, but when he died, he was one of the poorest. When the 3rd Earl inherited this property, it was forty-thousand pounds in debt. But he worked diligently for the next forty years restoring both the estate and the castle, along with his wealth.
My favorite room was the Crypt. This room is the most ancient part of the old castle and the walls are 16 feet thick. It is filled with hunting trophies from Victorian times, suits of real armour and breastplates used in battles, saddles and other fascinating items hundreds of years old. Also, the Secret Room of Glamis is located here.
There are many legends about Glamis, some true history and some that were surely embellished over the years. The tour guide told us the story of the Secret Room. A man known as Earl Beardie, who was either Alexander Lyon, 2nd Earl of Glamis, or Alexandar Linsday, 4th Earl of Crawford was playing cards late on a Saturday night. It is unclear who he was playing with. He was warned by either family members or servants to stop playing at midnight so that he wasn't committing the sin of gambling on the Sabbath. He refused to stop playing. One story says he played cards all night with the devil. Another says he and his companion played cards well into Sunday and the devil came along and walled them up in one section of the room so that they could play cards until doomsday. From outside the castle, a window can be seen in that area, but not from inside. There is rock wall blocking off the window and the section leading to it. The tour guide assured us that many people had reported hearing noises coming from behind the wall on Saturday nights and that most refused to enter the Crypt on Saturday nights.
Another source says the hidden room was where one of the Earl's deformed children was kept imprisoned so no one would see him. Still another source says what happened was that Ogilvie clansmen were fleeing their Leslie enemies and asked for refuge at Glamis. What they didn't know was that the Earl at the time was friends with the Leslies and he had the Ogilvie clansmen walled up and hidden, where they died of starvation. It's difficult to know what the truth is but I believe all legends contain some truth. Only the Earls know what is truly behind the wall.
I hope you've enjoyed this tour of Glamis!