Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle Rose

Glamis Castle Rose


Glamis Castle is situated beside the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland. It is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and is open to the public. Glamis Castle has been the home of the Lyon family since the 14th century, though the present building dates largely from the 17th century. The historical roots of Glamis by no means should suggest that the Castle has not remained fashionable; additions, alterations and reconstructions have all taken place in order to satisfy the aspirations of the Strathmore Family.


The vicinity of Glamis Castle has prehistoric traces; for example, a noted intricately carved Pictish stone known as the Eassie Stone was found in a creek-bed at the nearby village of Eassie. In 1034 King Malcolm II was murdered at Glamis, where there was a Royal Hunting Lodge. In William Shakespeare's play Macbeth (1603–06), the eponymous character resides at Glamis Castle, although the historical King Macbeth (d. 1057) had no connection to the castle. By 1376 a castle had been built at Glamis, since in that year it was granted by King Robert II to Sir John Lyon, Thane of Glamis, husband of the king's daughter. Glamis has remained in the Lyon (later Bowes-Lyon) family since this time. The castle was rebuilt as an L-plan tower house in the early 15th century. The title Lord Glamis was created in 1445 for Sir Patrick Lyon (1402–1459), grandson of Sir John. John Lyon, 6th Lord Glamis, married Janet Douglas, daughter of the Master of Angus, at a time when King James V was feuding with the Douglases. In December 1528 Janet was accused of treason for bringing supporters of the Earl of Angus to Edinburgh. She was then charged with poisoning her husband, Lord Glamis, who had died on 17 September 1528. Eventually, she was accused of witchcraft, and was burned at the stake at Edinburgh on 17 July 1537. James V subsequently seized Glamis, living there for some time.


In 1543 Glamis was returned to John Lyon, 7th Lord Glamis. In 1606, Patrick Lyon, 9th Lord Glamis, was created Earl of Kinghorne. He began major works on the castle, commemorated by the inscription "Built by Patrick, Lord Glamis, and D[ame] Anna Murray" on the central tower. The English architect Inigo Jones has traditionally been linked to the redesign of the castle, though Historic Scotland consider the King's Master Mason William Schaw a more likely candidate, due to the traditional Scottish style of the architecture. During the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, soldiers were garrisoned at Glamis. In 1670 Patrick Lyon, 3rd Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, returned to the castle and found it uninhabitable. Restorations took place until 1689, including the creation of a major Baroque garden. John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, succeeded in 1753, and in 1767 he married Mary Eleanor Bowes, heiress to a coal-mining fortune. He set about improving the grounds of the castle in the picturesque style in the 1770s. The south-west wing was rebuilt after a fire in the early 19th century. In the 1920s a huge fireplace from Gibside, the Bowes-Lyon estate near Gateshead, was removed and placed in Glamis' Billiard Room. The fireplace displays the coat of arms of the Blakiston family; Gibside heiress Elizabeth Blakiston had married Sir William Bowes.


In 1900, Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon was born, youngest daughter of Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and his countess, Cecilia. She spent much of her childhood at Glamis, which was used during the First World War, as a military hospital. She was particularly instrumental in organising the rescue of the castle's contents during a serious fire on 16 September 1916. On 26 April 1923 she married Prince Albert, Duke of York, second son of King George V, at Westminster Abbey. Their second daughter, Princess Margaret, was born at Glamis Castle in 1930. Since 1987 an illustration of the castle has featured on the reverse side of ten pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Glamis is currently the home of Simon Bowes-Lyon, 19th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, who succeeded to the earldom in 2016.


The 17th century witnessed many changes. The West Wing was added, as well as a small north-east wing containing the chapel. The courtyard buildings and much of the fortifications were swept away and replaced by a baroque setting of courts, sculptures and vistas. In the mid-18th century the grounds in front of the Castle were landscaped with radiating avenues of trees. New kitchens, a Billiard Room and new service courtyards beyond the East Wing were all added in 1773. Two years later, the West Wing was demolished and remodelling of the grounds into open parklands in the style of Capability Brown began. This was achieved by pulling down the garden walls in front of the Castle and moving the De'il Gates to the boundary where they stand today. The pitched roof of the East Wing was replaced with castellations in 1797 and the reconstruction of the West Wing in a matching style was effected in about 1800. The main avenue was replanted in about 1820. In 1893, the 13th Earl laid out the Dutch Garden in front of the Castle. This return to a formal style was continued with the creation by The Queen Mother's parents of the Italian Garden in 1910. This was the last major alteration and completes the modern day appearance of the Castle.


The most famous legend connected with the castle is that of the Monster of Glamis, a hideously deformed child born to the family. Some accounts came from singer and composer Virginia Gabriel who stayed at the castle in 1870. In the story, the monster was kept in the castle all his life and his suite of rooms bricked up after his death. Another monster is supposed to have dwelt in Loch Calder near the castle. An alternative version of the legend is that to every generation of the family a vampire child is born and is walled up in that room. There is an old story that guests staying at Glamis once hung towels from the windows of every room in a bid to find the bricked-up suite of the monster. When they looked at it from outside, several windows were apparently towel-less. The legend of the monster may have been inspired by the true story of the Ogilvies. Somewhere in the 16-foot-thick walls is the famous room of skulls, where the Ogilvie family, who sought protection from their enemies the Lindsays, were walled up to die of starvation.


A legend tells of the 15th-century "Earl Beardie", who has been identified with both Alexander Lyon, 2nd Lord Glamis (died 1486), and with Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford (died 1453). Several versions exist, but they all involve "Earl Beardie" playing cards. However, it was the sabbath, and either his hosts refused to play, or a servant advised him to stop. Lord Beardie became so furious that he claimed that he would play until doomsday, or with the Devil himself, depending on the version. A stranger then appears at the castle and joins Lord Beardie in a game of cards. The stranger is identified with the Devil, who takes Earl Beardie's soul and, in some versions, condemns the Earl to play cards until doomsday. The late Sir David Bowes-Lyon, while taking a late stroll on the lawn after dinner, reportedly saw a girl gripping the bars of a castle window and staring distractedly into the night. He was about to speak to her when she abruptly disappeared, as if someone had torn her away from the window.


The towers in front of the castle each measure 7 metres (23 feet) in diameter and are about 4 metres (13 feet) high, each having a modern parapet. The walls are 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) thick. There is a small chapel within the castle with seating for 46 people. The story given to visitors by castle tour guides states that one seat in the chapel is always reserved for the "White Lady" (supposedly a ghost which inhabits the castle), thought to be Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis. According to the guides, the chapel is still used regularly for family functions, but no one is allowed to sit in that seat. The clock tower houses the castle's archives which include a wide range of historical material relating to the castle and the Bowes and Lyon families. These include a papal bull and the memoirs of Mary Eleanor Bowes. The current archivist is Ingrid Thomson. The Glamis archives have a close connection with the archives at the University of Dundee, and researchers who wish to consult material held in the Glamis Castle Archive do so in the search room at the University.


Glamis is set in the broad and fertile lowland valley of Strathmore, near Forfar, county town of Angus, which lies between the Sidlaw Hills to the south and the Grampian Mountains to the north, approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) inland from the North Sea. The estate surrounding the castle covers more than 57 square kilometres (14,000 acres) and, in addition to parks and gardens, produces several cash crops including lumber and beef. There are two streams running through the estate, one of them the Glamis Burn. An arboretum overlooking Glamis Burn features trees from all over the world, many of them rare and several hundred years old. The Rosa 'Glamis Castle', pictured above, is a rose named after Glamis Castle by the English rosegrower David Austin.


All tours of Glamis Castle are guided. Once your tour begins every room has its own story and the evolution of the castle and legendary tales are brought to life by one of our enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide. There is a ramp to the main entrance. There is a toilet for the sole use of disabled people. The accessible toilet is 4m (13ft 1in) from the accessible entrance, located in the Pavillion Shop. There is access to some of the exhibition rooms, the guides can tailor the tour to meet the visitors requirements. Assistance dogs are welcome.


Location : Glamis Castle, Glamis, Forfar DD8 1RJ, UK

Transport: Dundee (National Rail) then bus (via Forfar). Bus Routes : 20, 21, or 22 Connect Dundee and Forfar. 124 and 125 from Forfar stop close by.

Opening Times : Winter - weekends 11:00 to 16:00;  April 1st to October 29th daily 11:00 to 17:30 (last tour 16:30)

Tickets : Adults £11.00;  Concessions £10.00;  Children (5 - 16) £8.00

Tel : 01307 840393