Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle is famous for more than one reason. One is that it was the setting of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Duncan's Hall commemorates the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth, even though the murder actually occurred near Elgin.

The Bowes-Lyon family owns Glamis. Princess Margaret was born in the castle; King Malcolm of Scotland died in it (from battle-inflicted wounds). Legend has it that a secret chamber still exists somewhere in the castle. It's thought to be located deep in the walls of the crypt, to your left as you face towards the two small windows at the end of the room.

One famous story of the castle chamber concerns the Earl of Strathmore, who decided to play a game of cards. He ordered his servants to play with him, but since it was a Sunday, they refused. The Earl then shouted, "I'd play with the Devil himself if he were here!"

A knock sounded at the door immediately; when the Earl shouted, "Enter!" the Devil walked in. Soon, terrible sounds began to come from the room. When a servant bent to look through the keyhole, a light or a flame (depending on the version of the story) blasted out of the opening. Since that time, hundreds of years ago, the Devil and the Earl have been playing cards constantly.

Another story is that the chamber holds the bones of Scottish clansmen who arrived at the castle one night, seeking refuge. The lord of Glamis brought them to the chamber, then had it sealed off, leaving the men inside to starve to death.

A ghost in armor was once seen by a woman who was a guest at the castle. Unable to sleep one night, she had a candle lit, but a wave of cold air blew it out. The woman saw an enormous man wearing armor. It appeared to be trying to find the way into her little girl's room, and finally, it discovered the door and entered. The girl began to scream in terror. Her mother ran into the room, only to find her alone, and sobbing that a giant had been leaning over her bed.

Another guest, who was staying in the Blue Room, woke when a hand brushed her cheek. She opened her eyes and saw the ghostly face of a bearded man above her. She closed her eyes and when she opened them again, the face had disappeared.

A feeling of deep sadness is felt in the chapel, and knocking sounds are sometimes heard. A Gray Lady has been seen kneeling at the altar. More than 400 years ago, this ghost - then the very much alive Janet Douglas - married the 6th Lord of Glamis. Lord Glamis died in 1528. Lady Janet's brother was the stepfather of King James V, who hated his stepfather and anyone named Douglas. The luckless Lady Janet, after her husband's death, was left unprotected, and King James confiscated Glamis Castle when he accused Lady Janet of witchcraft. Not only that, he accused her of brewing potions with the intent of murdering him. Nobody believed it, but Lady Janet and her son John thrown into the dungeon of Edinburgh Castle. King James held court in Glamis Castle from 1537 to 1542. Knowing that Lady Janet's reputation was spotless, the King decided to force her servants to give false evidence by using torture. Her family and servants were stretched on the rack until the King had the "evidence" he needed. John, then 16, was forced to watch, then was tortured himself. The King secured his conviction against Lady Janet; she and John were sentenced to death. On July 17, 1537, Lady Janet Glamis - by now almost blind from spending so much time in the dungeon - was burned alive at Edinburgh Castle. John, now the 7th Lord of Glamis, was released from prison after the death of King James V, and Parliament restored Glamis to him. When he returned to the castle, though, he discovered that the late King had looted it. After Lady Janet's execution, the ghost of the Gray Lady began appearing at the castle. She is seen in the chapel, and in the clock tower.

Another ghost is that of a woman with no tongue, who is seen running across the castle grounds at midnight pawing at her mouth.

Glamis even has a vampire! She is believed to have been a servant who was caught sucking blood from a hapless victim. Legend has it she was walled up alive in a secret chamber (maybe the same secret chamber of which so many other stories are told?), and is still waiting to be freed.

In the 1700s a rumor began to spread of a room containing a secret so horrible that only the Lords of Glamis, their heirs and the steward of the castle were allowed to see it. Once, some guests at the castle decided to look for the room. They hung towels from every window of the castle, then went outside to see one window without a towel. They never did find the room, and nobody else has, either. (Another story states that, after hanging towels from all the windows, the guests went outside only to find that several windows were lacking towels.)

Paranormal activity includes screams, banging noises, covers being torn from beds at night, and doors that, though locked and bolted, open mysteriously.

Glamis Castle is a tourist attraction - and even a wedding venue. Take a look at their website for more information.

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