Glamis Castle is situated beside the village of Glamis, Angus. It is the historic seat of the Lyon family. The estate was presented to Sir John Lyon as a gift by Robert II in 1376. The Bowes-Lyon family, as they are now, still owns the castle and grounds as the Earls of Strathmore. The family has a large link to the current Royal family as it was the childhood home of the Queen Mother, youngest daughter of Claude Bowes-Lyon, the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and his wife Cecilia, and it was the birthplace of Princess Margaret, the current Queen’s sister.
The original tower keep of the castle, which still remains at the centre of the building, was built in the 14th century. The additional wings, towers and turrets were added over the centuries to make the castle into the majestic building it is today, a place with more in common with a French Chateau than a medieval fortress.
Originally Glamis was a Royal Hunting Lodge then converted to a family home in the 1970s.
It has a fantastic history. In 1034 King Malcolm II was murdered at Glamis. 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.
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. Several interiors, including the Dining Room, also date from the 18th and 19th centuries.
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 was the home of Michael Bowes-Lyon, 18th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, a former army officer, who succeeded to the earldom in 1987. Michael recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Read our blog >
Gleams has a rather sinister reputation as one of the most haunted places in Scotland Read our blog >