Monday, 11 February 2019

Local Newspaper Report, 1900: Glamis Monster = Frankenstein?

From the archives of the Dundee based 'Courier' newspaper comes the clipping below, giving us (on 27 December) a snapshot of the evolution of the Glamis Monster legend at the dawning of a new century.

   Note the equation of the 'Glamis Monster' with the Frankensten 'Monster'.  Myth making was well on the way.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

From USA to Scotland: 'The Strathmore Mystery'.

   The article below appeared in the Dundee 'Courier' on Wednesday April 3rd, 1895.  A point of interest is that Dundee is, of course, not many miles south of Glamis Castle itself.  Yet her was a local newspaper essentially recycling a tall tale culled from a foreign publication - 'Harper's Magazine' of New York - which demonstrates that versions of the 'Glamis Legend' were already been churned out by the late Victorian myth-making machine.

   The source for the Scottish newspaper story is an article titled 'Ghostly Premonitions,' by Lucy B. Lillie (Harper's New Monthly, vol. XC, 1894-5,  pp. 75-79).  The best bit is, of course, the imaginary banter between the monarch and the owner of Glamis.  But where did she get the notion that a particular Lady Strathmore got a one way ticket overseas for being too audaciously inquisitive?

A great many interesting discussions would be ended if nobody believed in the supernatural. For instance, instead of the fascinating speculations over the famous 'Strathmore mystery,' I suppose a sort of official inquiry would be made into it. Fancy that stern old Scotch castle being forced to yield up its secret! One of the never-ending torments of my breast would then be put an end to, for I confess to finding myself in the most unexpected moments and in the most unexpected places asking the same question, 'What is the Strathmore mystery?' and wishing I were Queen Victoria for half an
hour, during which I would barter with Lord Strathmore for his secret a dukedom, or promise the dungeon if he withheld it. It is very foolish to let anything get possession of all the stock of curiosity you possess. What the Strathmore mystery really is, time seems only to be answering more and more vaguely. There is an old and noble house, in which no one denies there exists a mystery, not even the possessors of the secret, a tangible something, so people say, hidden in one of the many strange places in the strange old house. A lady visiting there told me that it was easy to believe in its being bidden, since one could lose one's self twenty times a day in any one wing. The secret is confided to the heir and the steward— to none else—even the bride of the heir is denied it! It is said one Lady Strathmore was forced to live and die abroad, because she questioned her lord too often. There are many stories I might tell, some half disclosing the secret, others relegating it delightfully to the supernatural; but to record them would be to give my neighbors' fireside away, and so I must content myself with merely chronicling the fact that really in this cleareyed,  sharply clever decade there exists as curious a mystery about an old castle in Scotland as anything in the days when the witches greeted Macbeth on that weird heath.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

The Lyon Cup

What is the Lion Cup of Glamis?  Is it cursed, and why should we care?  Here is one-time famous ghost hunter Elliott O'Donnell on the subject (Byways of Ghost-Land, London, 1911, p.168):

The family of Lyons were in possession of a talisman in the form of a "lion-cup," the original of Scott's "Blessed Bear of Bradwardine," which always brought them luck till they went to Glamis, and after that they experienced centuries of misfortune.

We can backtrack to the early 19th century to look at Scott's own comments. In an earlier post I gave a version of Scott's own note to his novel Waverly, describing the cup at Glamis.  It is given below in a fuller version.  

The poculum potatorium of the valiant Baron, his blessed Bear, has a prototype at the fine old castle of Glamis, so rich in memorials of ancient times. It is a massive beaker of silver, double gilt, moulded into the shape of a lion and holding about an English pint of wine. The form alludes to the family name of Strathmore, which is Lyon, and when exhibited the cup must necessarily be emptied to the Earl’s health. The author ought, perhaps, to be ashamed of recording that he had the honour of swallowing the contents of the lion, and the recollection of the feat served to suggest the story of the ‘Bear of Bradwardine’. In the family of Scott of Thirlestane (...Roxburghshire) was long preserved a cup of the same kind, in the form of a jack-boot. Each guest was obliged to empty this at his departure.  If the guest's name was Scott, the necessity was doubly imperative.
   As I reported before, Sir Walter Scott visited Glamis Castle first in 1793. Interesting, I think, that he does not actually name the vessel or give it any supernatural attributes. Scott would likely have recorded any dark legends that he found there.  Was the legend about the cup invented after his time?  Before leaving the castle in the morning he took a hefty drink of spirits from the Lion Beaker (or Lion Cup), and got so drunk that he lost his way on the road. In Waverly the Bradwardines inhabit the old Perthshire castle of Tully-Veolan.  The family heirloom is 'a golden goblet of a singular and antique appearance, moulded into the shape of a rampant bear', representing the crest of the Bradwardine family.  The vessel had been wrought, according to family legend, 'by the command of Saint Duthac, abbot of Aberbrothock' (Arbroath).

   Trying to find the approximate evolution of the story about the Cup is difficult, though it may be fair to say that it formed in parallel of the main Glamis Legend, or possibly slightly in its wake, being invented to give more wight and depth to the mystery of the family and castle in the last years of the 19th century.  A few decades later the legend had matured and was regularly appearing in print.  Below is the version given by Charles R. Beard in his Lucks and Talismans, A Chapter of Popular Superstition (London, 1920. pp. 41-42):

It [the Cup] is said to have come into their possession towards the close of the fourteenth century when John of Forteviot, surnamed the 'Whyte Lyon'...was the lord of Glamis. Whence and how it cae to them is apparently not recorded; but the general impression would seem to be that it was acquired by some piece of chicanery or act of despotic violence, appropriate to that distant period.  And since then, the history of the family has been darkened by a long series of tragedies for which, so it is said, the Cup has been responsible. It has even been asserted that if the Cup should ever be parted with or lost extinction awaits the family...
 The following quote is from The Days Before Yesterday, published in 1920, written by Lord Frederick Spencer Hamilton:

It was in this year that Sir John Lyon, Baron Forteviot, was given the lordship by Robert the Second, King of Scotland, whose daughter he had married. Among other honours conferred upon him was that of Great Chamberlain of Scotland, but he ended in a duel in 1383. It was this Sir John who brought with him to Glamis a kind of family curse, the famed "Lion Cup," a hereditary possession whose ownership is said to have caused many tragedies in the family. The plain man at this point naturally inquires why this accursed goblet was never thrown away, or at least sold, or given to some unsuspecting beneficiary against whom the Lyon family nursed a grudge, after the old Scots sort. But your plain man has no business here with family curses or spooks. Inquiry would, however, probably disclose the fact that the several disasters and violent endings of the Lyons were due less to the ownership of that item of gold plate than to the ferocity of themselves and their times.


There is a wonderful collection of old family dresses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and above all there is the very ancient silver-gilt cup, "The Lion of Glamis," which holds an entire bottle of wine, and on great family occasions is still produced and used as a loving-cup, circulating from hand to hand round the table. Walter Scott in a note to Waverly states that it was the "Lion of Glamis" cup which gave him the idea of the "Blessed Bear of Bradwardine." In fact, there is no end to the objects of interest this wonderful old castle contains, and the Lyon family have inhabited it for six hundred years in direct line from father to son.

   Beyond this, my trail of research goes dead... at the moment. More will be posted when I discover more.

   And I will!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Another Victorian Gossip?

Here's another little tidbit from the late 19th century when the rumour of the 'Glamis Legend', surrounding the so-called Monster (allegedly a member of the family) was circulating around certain circles in British society.  It's from Notes from the Life of An Ordinary Mortal, A G C Liddell (London, 1911, p. 194), and is a diary entry from sometime between 1879 and 1891. 
   A few things we should note:  again, as in previous sources, there is a frustrating lack of detail, but it is interesting in displaying a slightly sceptical tone and interesting for being an early mention of the supposed toad-like characteristics of the deformed Strathmore heir.  Probably worth me being a spoilsport and noting that there was no enobled Lord Strathmore as early as the date she mentions. Who this 'foreign lady' may be, there is no clue:

Aug. 21.  A foreign lady here is lively and amusing.  She pretends to a belief that she has lived several previous lives, which enabled her to make astonishing statements as to what she has done and whom she had met in her former existence, e.g., it comes with great effect into a conversation on astronomy to say 'As Galileo once told me.'
   Spiritualism is another of her topics.  Being herself a wonderful medium, male spirits were always falling in love with her.  At one time she was persecuted by an aged spirit who showed his attentions by knocking about the furniture of her boudoir, and who at last became so importunate as actually to rock the chair on which she sat.  She could only get rid of him by directing the governess to make overtures to him, when he desisted from his attentions, with what result to the governess she did not say.
   Among her other marvels was the best account of the Glamis ghost which I have yet heard.  As she was sitting in her room there the wall became transparent, and she saw through it into the secret chamber illumined with a lurid light.  There lay in chains a fearful object, half-man, half-toad, who was Lord Strathmore in 1330.  The dash of the toad in his structure had given him longeivity, the amount of man in him was such that they dare not knock him on the head; so there he remains, fed on raw flesh by Lord Strathmore, the factor and the eldest son.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Shadow in the Beginning - the First Logie Owner of Glamis

Long before the castle of Glamis was built and even before the ownership of the Lyon family, there were mysteries surrounding the place. From the Dark Age habitation to the royal estate there, the facts are scant enough.  One would suppose that the records of the first non-royal ownership of the estate would throw open the history of the place and provide clear information.  But history is murkier than that. 

   In the 1363 the records show that a man named John de Logy received the reversion of the thanedom of Glamis from King David II.  The reddendo for these lands was a red falcon which had to be delivered to the king yearly at the feast of Pentecost.  By 1372, however, Logy was no longer in possession and the new monarch, Robert II, granted the thanage to Sir John Lyon.  The original owner is a shadowy character.  The first JohnLogy – or Logie – came to a bad end, executed for his part in a plot against the king.  Margaret Logy, who some historians reckon to be his daughter, went on to marry David II.  Logy, or rather Logie, is by no means an uncommon place-name in Scotland.  There are several such names in Angus – one in north Angus, and another between Dundee and Lochee (though for long incorporated in the city). It likely, however, that this Logy was associated with Logie-Almond in Strathearn, Perthshire.  The owner of Glamis was likely the first John's son.

   The downfall of Logie senior was his part in a treacherous plot against the king orchestrated by Lord Soulis.  Soulis died in Dumbarton Castle.  Sir John of Logie, together with several other plotters, were condemned following the ‘Black Parliament’ of 1320 and drawn, hung and beheaded.  Incidentally the plot also led to the death of a notable Angus man named David Brechin, who was condemned because he had kept secret the details of the plot, despite refusing to become involved. 
   Margaret Logie herself presents an interesting character, judging from the facts which have survived about her.  She was born into the powerful Perthshire family of Drummond and had a long liaison with King David II, whose marriage to Joan (daughter of King Edward II of England) was both childless and unhappy.  When Joan retired to be a nun in England, David took a series of mistresses, one of whom was murdered by Scottish nobles who were suspicious of her power.  After Joan’s death, Margaret Logie became the first Scotswoman to marry a reigning Scottish monarch since the 11th century.  Margaret was a powerful lady and an active force in Scottish politics. 

King David II of  Scotland and Edward III of England.

   But her downfall may have been sealed by the fact that she was unable to give the king a son (though she had one son by her first husband, also called John Logie and one possibly malicious chronicler later accused her of pretending to carry the king’s child).  Margaret tried to secure her position by making a bond with the powerful Kennedy kindred of Carrick, but she still fell out of favour. King David annulled the marriage, but his queen appealed to the papacy.  The matter was still unresolved when King David II died in February 1371.  But Margaret died on her way to the papal court at Avignon soon afterwards. 

   The Drummonds of Stobhall, Perthshire, interestingly provided another Scottish queen, in the shape of Annabella Drummond.  She was the daughter of Sir John Drummond, who was Margaret Logie’s sister.  In contrast to her unfortunate aunt, Annabella’s union was a resounding success, at least if it can be measured by its duration; she was married to King Robert III for over 35 years.

Stobhall, home of the Drummonds.

   Did Margaret Logie ever visit Glamis?  It’s doubtful, but then again Glamis is not too many miles east of her ancestral home of Stobhall in Perthshire.  One thing is certain:  that she has her place among those many characters in Scottish history whose reputation has suffered as a result of her strong character and motives.  John Bellenden, translating the history of Hector Boece in the 16th century, sums up the distorted tradition of this queen which survived in his era:

King David...maryit ane lusty woman, namit Margaret Logy... and within thre monethis eftir; he repentit and wes so sorrowful that he had degradit his blud-rial with sic obscure linnage...

Guthrie, James Cargill, The Vale of Strathmore, its Scenes and Legends (Edinburgh, 1875).
McPherson, J. G., Strathmore, Past and Present (Perth, 1885).
Penman, Michael, ‘Margaret Logie, Queen of Scotland,’ in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, From the Earliest Times to 2004, ed. Elizabeth Ewan, Sue Innes, Rose Pipes, Sian Reynolds, pp. 248-9 (Edinburgh, 2006).
Riddell, John, Inquiry into the Law and Practice in Scottish Peerages (vol. 2, Edinburgh, 1842).

Stewart Allan, A., ‘Historical Notices of the Family of Margaret of Logy, Second Queen of David the 
Second, King of Scots,’ Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 7 (1878), pp. 330-361.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

US Comic Version of the Glamis Legend

From the possibly short lived title This Magazine is Haunted (does what it says on the tin) comes this brief, 1 page summary of the Malcolm II murder story of Glamis, with extra added characters & facts!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Two Victorians Who Should Have Written More On Glamis

Missed opportunities are the theme of the two men featured in this post.  Both men were extremely successful and busy in a Victorian way which boggles the modern mind; both would be surprised(or amused) to be accused of missing opportunities, but I am talking here specifically about what they wrote about Glamis Castle, or – specifically – what they did not write.  Scottish author Andrew Lang (1844-1912) wrote everything from folklore to history to fairy stories, and was therefore well atuned to testifying and analysing aspects of the Otherworld,  but he only chose to mention Glamis a brief fewtimes in his writingy.  One of these is in his comic poem ‘The Haunted Homes of England’ [sic.] from Lang’s book Ban and Arri√®re Ban:  A Rally of Fugitive Rhymes (London, 1894):

The Haunted Homes of England,
How eerily they stand,
While through them flit their ghosts – to wit,
The Monk with the Red Hand,
The Eyeless Girl – an awful spook –
To stop the boldest breath,
The boy that inked his copybook,
And so got ‘wopped’ to death!
Call them not shams – from haunted Glamis
To haunted Woodhouselea,
I mark in hosts the grisly ghosts
I hear the fell Banshee!
I know the spectral dog that howls
Before the death of Squires;
In my ‘Ghosts’-guide’ addresses hide
For podmore and for Myers!
I see the Vampire climb the stairs
From vaults below the church:
And hark! The Pirate’s spectre swears!
O Psychical Research,
Canst THOU not hear what meets my ear,
The viewless wheels that come?
The wild Banshee that wails to thee?
The Drummer with his drum?
O Haunted Homes of England,
Though tenantless ye stand,
With none content to pay the rent,
Through all the shadowy land,
Now, Science true will find in you
A sympathetic perch,
And take you all, both Grange and Hall,
For Psychical Research!

Andrew Lang.

   I get the feeling that Lang avoided any full-scale analysis of Glamis because he either found that the ‘mystery’ (of the Secret Room) was no mystery at all or that the market for peddling shabby legends and whispers about the haunted castle was rather overcrowded with dubious literary types he did not want to rub shoulders with.  Further evidence that he treated much of the reported supernatural world with disdain.  Glamis appears,again briefly, in rather strange surroundings in Lang’s Books and Bookmen (London, 1886).  In the chapter titled  ‘Some Japanese Bogie-Books’ Lang writes:
A somewhat similar and (to my own mind) probably sound theory of ghosts prevails among savage tribes, and among such peoples as the ancient Greeks, the modern Hindoos, and other ancestor worshippers. When feeding, as they all do, or used to do, the ghosts of the ancestral dead, they gave special attention to the claims of the dead of the last three generations, leaving ghosts older than the century to look after their own supplies of meat and drink. The negligence testifies to a notion that very old ghosts are of little account, for good or evil. On the other hand, as regards the longevity of spectres, we must not shut our eyes to the example of the bogie in ancient armour which appears in Glamis Castle, or to the Jesuit of Queen Elizabeth’s date that haunts the library (and a very nice place to haunt: I ask no better, as a ghost in the Pavilion at Lord’s might cause a scandal) of an English nobleman. With these instantiae contradictoriae, as Bacon calls them, present to our minds, we must not (in the present condition of psychical research) dogmatise too hastily about the span of life allotted to the simulacrum vulgare. Very probably his chances of a prolonged existence are in inverse ratio to the square of the distance of time which severs him from our modern days. No one has ever even pretended to see the ghost of an ancient Roman buried in these islands, still less of a Pict or Scot, or a Palaeolithic man, welcome as such an apparition would be to many of us. Thus the evidence does certainly look as if there were a kind of statute of limitations among ghosts, which, from many points of view, is not an arrangement at which we should repine.

Again, in his Book of Dreams and Ghosts (London, 1897), Lang gives another unsatisfactory snippet about Glamis:
Here it may be remarked that apparitions in haunted houses are very seldom recognised as those of dead persons, and, when recognised, the recognition is usually dubious. Thus, in February, 1897, Lieutenant Carr Glyn, of the Grenadiers, while reading in the outer room of the Queen’s Library in Windsor, saw a lady in black in a kind of mantilla of black lace pass from the inner room into a corner where she was lost to view. He supposed that she had gone out by a door there, and asked an attendant later who she was. There was no door round the corner, and, in the opinion of some, the lady was Queen Elizabeth! She has a traditional habit, it seems, of haunting the Library. But surely, of all people, in dress and aspect Queen Elizabeth is most easily recognised. The seer did not recognise her, and she was probably a mere casual hallucination. In old houses such traditions are common, but vague. In this connection Glamis is usually mentioned. Every one has heard of the Secret Chamber, with its mystery, and the story was known to Scott, who introduces it in The Betrothed. But we know when the Secret Chamber was built (under the Restoration), who built it, what he paid the masons, and where it is: under the Charter Room.  These cold facts rather take the “weird” effect off the Glamis legend.

   Lang is referring to the extensive remodelling 74work at Glamis which is recorded to have been undertaken in the Book of Record by the 3rd Earl of Strathmore in the late 17th century.  Yet, even if that disposed of the legend of the ‘Secret Room’ (which it does not), there were plenty of other stories and lenegds associated with the castle whichg Lang could have delved into, but chose to avoid.  The tone and content of the above quotes may suggest that Andrew Lang adopted a uniform scepticism to the matters of the supernatural, but that is not the case.  He was the president of the Society for Psychical Research in 1911 and his non-fiction works, particularly his books on history, are considered and thoughtful.  So it must be considered a pity that this author did not extend his interest to Glamis Castle.

   In a letter to Mrs Herbert Mills on 23 August 1908 (Lang archive at St Andrews university) the author tells his correspondent about a stay he had at Glamis Castle.  There was was a game of cricket where Lord Strathmore excelled and a little girl – later the Queen Mother – offered him a lovely Persian kitten, which he refused.  However:  ‘the ghosts laid low’.  Yet another missed opportunity from this renowned writer.

   The second Victorian under consideration is Lyon Playfair, later Lord Lyon of St Andrews (1818-1898).  As his forename suggests he had a family connection with the family of Glamis, despite being born in India.  His grandmother’s family belonged to the branch of the Lyons who came from Glenogil in Angus. He pursued a career as a chemist initially before gravitating towards politics in the Liberal party.  Like his uncle, the Meigle born soldier Hugh Lyon Playfair he had a long association with St Andrews (both men were buried there).

   Playfair maintained an intermittent contact with Glamis Castle through his life.  Returning to Scotland from India some of Playfair’s holidays were spent in the manse of his great-uncle the Rev Dr Lyon at Glamis.  He described the kirk, manse and castle of his boyhood as follows (Memoirs and Correspondence of Lyon Playfair, ed. Wemys Reid, London, 1899):

The old manse is a comfortable minister's house, surrounded by a garden containing one of the oldest of Scotch monuments. The church itself was close to it, in a primitive churchyard without beauty, and then kept in a careless way. At that time the fine old castle was not inhabited by Lord Strathmore. The whole estate was under the management of trustees, of whom my uncle was one, and so the castle and grounds were open to me without risk of being considered an intruder. I naturally busied myself with trying to discover the famous secret chamber, and the awful mystery connected with it. I drew my own conclusions, which were probably as erroneous as those which have been made by others in regard to this mystery. Although my uncle had the same
name as the Earls of Strathmore, he belonged to the Glen Ogle Lyons, a collateral branch of the family. At that time the two branches had become close in the line of descent,
though now they are again widely divergent.
   The park round Glamis Castle is extensive, and has a small stream running through woods. A deep pool, in a sequestered spot, was my favourite haunt, at which I spent many hours of meditation, for I had no playfellows at the old manse. I believe that this lonely pool, surrounded by trees, taught me to feel that happiness depends upon one-self as much as upon one's surroundings. The family of my uncle consisted of his wife and two daughters. The old minister himself was simple and worthy. Daily I would drive out with the grey-haired old man, in a gig drawn by a horse which could not go beyond five miles an hour, but was believed by the owner to be one of the best and fastest horses in the kingdom. The good old man went at the same relative pace in his parochial duties. The minister's wife, my dear old aunt, lavished upon me the love of a mother to a child. Two charming young ladies, my cousins, made my stay at the manse as agreeable as possible, and I returned with gladness at each vacation. They are all dead long since, but my memories of their love and kindness live fresh within me.

   Playfair’s busy life meant he did not visit Glamis again for nearly sixty years.  While he and his wife were staying at Kinnordy House, near Kirriemuir, in 1885 he was invited to the castle with his wife.  Playfair wrote:
It was all wonderfully changed and beautified, but it was the old Glamis still. We went to the top of the castle, and I explained to my wife all the points of interest connected with my life as a boy at this place. Lady Strathmore was full of sympathy with my memories, and insisted on being my guide to see the manse, which I found very little changed, my reflecting haunt by the old pool, and the other objects which I remembered so well. She even showed me a secret chamber, though not the secret chamber which has defied so many keen inquirers. It was delightful to me to see the castle again inhabited by an Earl of Strathmore, who has restored it so as to make it worthy of its great history. In the old hall of the castle we witnessed an operetta written by a son, and acted by the sons and daughters, of our hosts, and most admirably it was performed.