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...

Sources
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 Arrière 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.




Monday, 9 January 2017

Charles Harper Quote from 1907

Another lengthy quote, this time authored  by Charles George Harper (1863 – 1943), an extremely prolific writer and illustrator, in his Haunted Houses : Tales of the Supernatural (1907).  Out of the dozens of books he had a hand in, this was one of the few concerning the supernatural, and it was not his area of prime literary comfort. (Most of his works fall into the travel category.)  



   Harper summons up a fine variety of source material, but some of his conclusions appear off the mark. Interesting is his account of  the Lion Cup and his theory (wrong in my opinion) that the germ of the idea about the ghost of the earl at Glamis was inspired by the death of the Earl of Strathmore in 1728.  His association of 'Earl Beardie' with 'Earl Patie' is also worth examining.  
Unquestionably the most famous haunted house in Britain is Glamis Castle, in Forfarshire, and it is the more famous from the fact that the uncanny things connected with it and its secret chamber have ever been kept as inviolable secrets, and are no nearer solution now than they were hundreds of years ago. Thus, Glamis is not in the usual sense a haunted house: it is rather the abode of mystery, the home of some secret of which many have made light, but which those most nearly concerned have never been known to regard with indifference.
No other residence in the world, imperial or private, has been the subject of so much eager discussion as Glamis Castle; and no secret has been so continuously assailed by investigators as that safe in the keeping of the Earls of Strathmore, the lords of Glamis. The identity of the Man in the Iron Mask, and that of the writer of the Letters of Junius have been the subjects of furious controversies, in which the respective partisans have, every one of them, convinced themselves to be right; but those once fertile subjects have long been abandoned, or at the most attract but feeble attention. The mystery of Glamis, however, still piques curiosity, and still defies the acuteness of investigators.
Glamis shares with Cawdor—but with more show of probability—the tradition of being the scene of the murder of Duncan by Macbeth, Thane of Glamis; and the identical room in which that tragedy is supposed to have been wrought was long shown, together with the sword and the shirt of chain-mail worn by Macbeth! Such are the lengths to which, everywhere, the desires of the seekers after gory landmarks and original bloodstained weapons that have done even mythical deeds, will lead the purveyors of marvels to go. Malcolm the Second, however, was certainly assassinated in the neighbourhood of Glamis: on Hunter's Hill, according to local tradition.
Although Glamis is very old and grim, it may well be doubted if anything quite so ancient as the times of Macbeth and Malcolm the Second remain to it; and although those half-legendary, half-historic events are sufficiently tragical and have been sublimated by Shakespeare into the finest stage tragedy extant, they have no relation to the stories of unnamed horrors that reside in some undiscovered corner of the hoary pile. Those undesirable items date only from the coming of the Lyon family, in 1371. It was in this year that Sir John Lyon, Baron Fortevist, 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.


The son of Sir John Lyon was one of those very few of the race for many centuries who died peacefully in their beds, and his son, created Lord Glamis in 1445, ended in the like natural manner. But a peculiarly horrible fate befell Janet, the young and beautiful widow of the sixth Lord Glamis, who with her son and other relatives was indicted for the practice of witchcraft, and for attempting the life of James the Fifth by the arts of magic and sorcery. Lady Glamis was found guilty on the perjured evidence of her own servants, among others, and was burned on Castle Hill, Edinburgh, in 1537. Her son John, at this time a boy of sixteen, afterwards seventh Lord Glamis, was put to the torture, and under it committed the infamy of falsely accusing his mother. He also was found guilty, but was respited until he should come of age, and was at length released and restored to his ancestral honours. His son, the eighth Lord Glamis, was killed in a chance meeting with the Lindsays, with whom the family of Lyon maintained a cherished feud.
An Earldom—that of Kinghorne—was conferred upon the castellan of Glamis in 1606, and another—that of Strathmore—in 1677. The recipient of this last honour was Patrick Lyon, who was born in 1612 and died in 1695, after having thoroughly restored the ancient castle of Glamis, and refitted it and its garden and policies according to the taste of that age.
The Earls of Strathmore at the present time own a remarkable multiplicity of titles, being also Earls of Kinghorne, Viscounts Lyon, Barons Glamis, Tannadyce, Sidlaw, and Strathdichtie.
The third Earl of Strathmore died of wounds he had received at Sheriffmuir in 1715, and was succeeded by his brother as fourth Earl. The fourth Earl had five sons and three daughters, and of these no fewer than four sons succeeded to the title. Charles, sixth Earl of Strathmore, died in 1728, in a duel arising out of a quarrel at cards or dice.
It is with this Charles, sixth Lord Strathmore, that the chief of the uncanny stories of Glamis is concerned, There are, of course, many versions, but the most generally received is that of the fatal gaming party. By this it seems that the long-standing feud between the Lindsays and the Lyons had so far healed that the members of the two families dined, drank, and diced together, like the fine old Scottish gentlemen they were: bent upon some form of ill-doing, at any cost. Those ancient Scottish noblemen who were not up to some devilry or another, from slitting the throat of monarch or friend, conspiring against the State, or making off with a neighbour's wife, down to mere ordinary sharp practices and insane gambling, were few indeed, and even those abstaining few did not generally receive the credit to which their abstention entitled them. Such another set of equally atrocious villains it would be difficult to find, in any age or country.
The legend goes on to declare that the play, one fatal night at Glamis, grew desperately high. The Earl was suffering a run of ill-luck, and when he had gamed away all his money, resolved if possible to win back his losses in staking his estates. But the bad luck was still in force, and, staking one property after another, he continued to lose, until Glamis itself stood at hazard upon the turn of a card and was lost. Then the dazed and infuriated Lord Strathmore, not able to understand such extraordinary ill fortune, lost his temper, and accused his guest of cheating.
A blow was the only reply; swords were drawn, and, after a few passes, the Earl was run through the body. Thus died the sixth Earl of Strathmore; but it would appear that it was not a Lindsay, but one James Carnegie, of Finhaven, who killed him, as appears in the trial that followed.
From this comparatively simple version, which bears, in its broad aspects, the stamp of truth, many wild varieties have been elaborated, in which the evil characteristics of earlier lords of Glamis have been incorporated, to make tales of marvels. In these narratives the chief actor is "Earl Beardie," or "Earl Patie," of whom the real original would appear to be the first Lord Glamis, who died in 1454, and whose actual or imaginary ill deeds had rendered him for generations a kind of traditional Bogey or Raw Head and Bloody Bones, the terror of many a nursery in the country round about Glamis.
According to these horrific imaginings, clearly evolved in the minds of an ultra-Sabbatarian peasantry, Earl Patie was not only a gambler, and a gambler who would not merely play day and night and with his fellows, but would continue on Sundays, and in default of any of his own station, would play for bawbees with the veriest scullion in his proud castle. It was on a dark and stormy November Sabbath night (observe the excellent stage-management of this legend!) that Earl Patie, wearied of the empty day, called with his most startling oaths for a pack of cards and for a partner in the game. The cards were duly forthcoming, but it was not so easy to secure a partner. My lord, with growing fury, invited each individual member of his staff of retainers, but without avail. Starting with the steward, and working down to the meanest potwalloper in the establishment, he received refusals from all. Then he tried the rather hopeless task of persuading the domestic chaplain to take a hand, with the result that he not only got another refusal, but found that any likely waverer among his menials was scared out of obliging him by the threats the chaplain proceeded to hurl against any one who should so desecrate the Lord's Day.
Earl Patie thereupon, consigning the chaplain and every one else to Helensburgh, and swearing if possible worse than ever, took himself and his pack of cards away to his own especial room,declaring himself prepared to play with the Devil, if no other partner were forthcoming.
He had not sat long, before a knock came at the door, and a deep voice without was heard asking if he still wanted a partner.
"Yes," shouted the Earl; "enter in the foul fiend's name, whoever you are."
Thereupon there entered a. tall, dark stranger, wrapped mysteriously in a cloak. Nodding familiarly to the Earl, he took his seat, without further ceremony, on a vacant chair opposite, and the game presently began. The stranger had proposed a high stake, and in accepting, the Earl agreed, if he were the loser and found himself unable to pay, he would sign a bond for whatever the stranger might choose to ask. (What doited fools these legendary gamesters always are!)
Fast and furious became the game. Loud and louder were the oaths that resounded through the chamber and echoed down the corridors, alarming the household. Up crept the terrified servants,and listened at the door-after the manner of servants-wondering who this might be who should thus bandy words with their wicked master.
At last the old butler, who had served the family for two generations, and had peeped through many a keyhole in his time, applied his eye in the old familiar manner; but he had no sooner done so than he fell back and rolled upon the floor with a yell of agony. In an instant the door was flung open, and the Earl, with furious face, instructed the servants to slay any one who should pass, while he went back to settle with his guest.
But the guest was gone, and with him had gone the bond. It seems that while the game was in progress, the stranger had noticed the keyhole, and, throwing down his cards, had exclaimed, with a dreadful oath, "Smite that eye!" whereupon a sheet of flame had darted directly to the keyhole, blighting the butler, and the stranger himself vanished. This would make an impressive tract for the conversion of Keyhole Peepers.
For five years after this dramatic scene, Earl Patie lived, and then was gathered into Abraham's -or some one else's-bosom. But every Sabbath evening afterwards the room where the two had played at cards resounded in the same boisterous manner, until at last, unable any longer to endure this Sunday evening tumult, the family had it built up. Of course the stranger, as the intelligentreader will already have perceived, was none other than the Devil himself, and the bond resulted in his winning the Earl's soul.
An even more thrilling version tells how the Earl declared, with many dreadful oaths, that he would play until the Day of Judgment; and that on stormy nights the gamblers may yet be heard, quarrelling over their play.
The jealously guarded mystery of the secret room at Glamis may or may not be connected with this legend. There are, in fact, several "secret" chambers in the ancient fifteen-feet thick walls, but these are neither more nor less a matter of secrecy than the so-called "secret" drawers that form so perfectly obvious a feature of most old escritoires. The one absolutely secret chamber is never known to more than three persons at one time: to the Earl of Strathmore for the time being, to his eldest son (or to the next heir), and to the factor, or steward, of the estate. The solemn initiation ceremony takes place upon the coming of age of the heir, on the night of his twenty-first birthday; when the three are supposed to be armed with crowbars to break down the masonry which walls up the mystic recess. This rite duly performed and the wall again built up, the factor invariably leaves the castle and rides for home, no matter how stormy the night or late the hour. The Lyon family is wealthy-the late Earl left over a million sterling-and could easily reside elsewhere, but on the night that witnesses the coming of age of the heir, its members will be all gathered together at Glamis.

The theories as to what this terrible secret may be embrace every possibility and impossibility. An often-repeated story is that which narrates how the unhappy Lady Glamis, "the witch," who was burnt on Castle Hill, Edinburgh, was really in league with the Devil, and that her familiar demon, an embodied and visible fiend, inhabits the spot!
With other people, greedy of the horrible, a favourite theory is that there exists, in this dungeon, a hideous half-human monster, of fearful aspect and fabulous age. Another variety would have us believe that a monster of the vampire type is born every generation into the family, to represent the embodiment of a terrible curse upon the house of Lyon.
Again, a tradition declares that in the old days of feuds, when the Ogilvies and the Lindsays were for always flying at each others' throats, a number of hunted Ogilvies came to the doors of Glamis, imploring the Lord Glamis of that day to shelter them from the fury of their enemies. He was not on particularly friendly terms with either of those warring clans, but he opened his door to the fugitives and, under the pretence of securely hiding them, locked and bolted the unfortunate Ogilvies in a remote dungeon, and callously left them there to starve. The tale goes on to tell how the bones of those wretched fugitives strew the floor of that dismal hold to this day, the position of some of the skeletons showing that the captives died in the act of gnawing the flesh from their arms.
Dr. Lee, who, in his Glimpses of the Supernatural shows himself prone to swallowing anything, however startling, says: " On one occasion, some years ago, the head of the family, with several companions, was determined to investigate the cause of inexplicable noises heard at Glamis Castle. One night, when the disturbance was greater and more violent and alarming than usual, his lordship went to the Haunted Room, opened the door with a key, and dropped back in a dead swoon into the arms of his companions; nor could he ever be induced to open his lips on the subject afterwards."
Why the factor should be included in the triune initiation into the mystery of Glamis is a question that has always excited highly interested conjecture. If the factor's office were hereditary, there would conceivably be reason for it, but this is not generally the case at Glamis. But whatever the reason of the factor being always taken into the confidence of the Earl for the time being, to the exclusion even of the Countess, it is certain that the trust reposed has never once been misplaced. Whatever it is the factor has seen, or whatever the ceremony in which he takes a part, the nature of it has never been divulged.
The revelation of the mystery has often in times past been promised by reckless young heirs to the title, sceptical as to its importance, but the twenty-first birthday has come and gone and theinitiation into the secret has been performed; and the promised revelation has never been made. Instead, the subject, mentioned by expectant friends, has with evident anxiety been avoided. To an inquirer the late Earl, who died in 1905, said, "If you could guess the nature of this secret, you would go down on your knees and thank God it were not yours."
Mr. Hare, who was a. visitor at Glamis in 1877, speaks of the pleasant house-party then assembled there, and adds, "only Lord Strathmore himself has an ever-sad look. The Bishop of Brechin, who was a great friend of the house, felt this strange sadness so deeply that he went to Lord Strathmore, and after imploring him in the most touching manner to forgive the intrusion into his private affairs, said how, having heard of the strange secret which oppressed him, he could not help entreating him to make use of his services as an ecclesiastic, if he could in any way, by any means, be of use to him. Lord Strathmore was deeply moved; he said that he thanked him, but that in his most unfortunate position no one could ever help him. He has built a wing to the castle, in which all the children and all the servants sleep. The servants will not sleep in the house, and the children are not allowed to do so."
Whatever the nature of this heirloom, the late Earl seems to have found it a subject for constant prayer. A guest who had been staying at the Castle, and was leaving in the early morning, passed by the private chapel, and there he saw his host kneeling in prayer, and still wearing the evening clothes he had worn overnight.
Once, in the temporary absence of a former Earl of Strathmore, a party of guests, headed by the Countess herself, made an ingenious effort to discover the secret chamber. Starting on the supposition that it must have a window (but why?) they hung towels out of every casement, concluding that any window which displayed no towel would be the mystic chamber. The attempt failed, and while it was in progress my lord returned, with unpleasant results. It was even said that Earl and Countess parted, never to meet again.
It will thus be seen that it is not from want of inquiry that the secret has been kept. Sir Walter Scott, Sir Augustus Rumbold, Augustus Hare, and many antiquaries have puzzled their brains over it, with the solution as far removed as ever. Lord Playfair, who was a distant relative of the Lyon family, had been on the estate as a boy, and was possessed with a furious zeal to pluck out the heart of the mystery. Lord Strathmore was not in residence, and young Playfair had the run of the place, his uncle being one of the trustees. "I naturally did my best," he says in his autobiography, "to discover the famous secret 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 famous secret." He left the neighbourhood no wiser.
Fifty years passed, and he was again at the Castle. Lady Playfair was with him, and the then Countess of Strathmore conducted them all over the place. "She even showed me," he says, "a secret chamber, but not the secret chamber, which has defied so many keen inquirers." She could not, as we have already proved, have shown it if she would.
Of course many attempts have been made to show that the mystery is of merely commonplace origin, and the extraordinary activities of Patrick, first Lord Strathmore, in constructing secret roomsin his various residences, have been pointed out. A secret staircase, which would seem to have been built about 1670, and afterwards bricked up, was discovered in 1849, during some alterations; and a splendidly carved fireplace, whose existence had not been suspected, was accidentally revealed, a few years since, in the drawing-room.
Patrick, Lord Strathmore, left behind him an account of his works, called by him the Book of Record, printed by the Scottish History Society in 1890. In this he gives very full details of the work done by him at Glamis Castle. For instance, the construction of this back staircase, so long forgotten, is distinctly described; and from his references to certain leaden statues which he had erected in the grounds, these works of art were recovered from their undignified seclusion in some of the cellars, and have been restored to their original positions. When confronted with a mystery like that of the secret chamber, one naturally turns to the Book of Record to see if it contains any allusion to this apartment. The diligent student of that remarkable book will find two curious entries that seem to have some hearing on this subject. Writing on June 24th, 1684, Lord Strathmore records the following transaction: "Agried with the four masones in Glammiss for digging down from the floor of the litil pantry off the Lobbis a closet designed within the charterhouse there, for wch I am to give them 50 lib. scotts and four bolls meall."

The work of constructing this closet or small chamber was more serious than the Earl had contemplated. Judging from similar chambers which he caused to be made at his other residence at Castle Lyon (now Castle Huntly) in the Carse of Gowrie, the closet was probably dug out of the thickness of the wall.
On July 25th there is another reference to this closet, which shows that its construction was an arduous undertaking: "I did add to the work before mentioned of a closet in my charterhouseseverall things of a considerable trouble, as the digging thorrow passages from the new work to the old, and thorrow that closet againe so that as now I have the access off on flour [one floor] from the east quarter of the house of Glammis to the west syde of the house thorrow the low hall, and am to pay the masones, because of the uncertainty yrof dayes wages, and just so to the wright and plasterer."
From these precise entries it becomes evident that in 1684 the first Earl of Strathmore caused a secret chamber or closet to be constructed, with an entrance from the charter-room. This was by no means an unusual thing, for many noble Scottish families have had frequent occasion to conceal documents that would have compromised them in times of war, and even a charter-room might not have been secure against the searches by enemies. The first Lord Strathmore himself was deeply implicated in a Jacobite plot with the Earls of Southesk and Callander in 1689; and though he afterwards became reconciled to William the Third, it would have been useful for him to have a secure hiding-place for treasonable papers. Several of his descendants were concerned in the risings of 1715 and 1745, and a chamber of this kind would be useful either to secrete documents or to afford shelter to a fugitive. By that time, it is urged, the masons who had constructed the secret chamber thirty years before would have passed away, and the lingering rumours of its existence would be linked in the popular mind with the "wicked" Earl. For obvious reasons, it is pointed out, the successive Earls of Strathmore would not seek to dispel this superstition, and thus the simple "closet designed within the charter-room" has been elevated to the dignity of a haunted chamber.
Such are the matter-of-fact deductions drawn from the unromantic entries in the Book of Record; but they do not, it will at once be seen, meet and controvert the tales of magic and terror at all points.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas Bonus: Towels Out The Window, a Variant


The following clipping comes from the Dundee Courier, dated 27th December 1900.  Although this is a fairly local paper to Glamis, the story seems  syndicated, hence the mention of  the Morning Leader. Note the variant in the tale:  other versions state that Lord Strathmore came home unexpectedly the same day and that the 'towels at the window' ruse did not extend overnight.  Note also the inference that the Bowes-Lyons appear to have been talking down the legend to the press, an effort at legend dampening which didn't in any way quash the growing body of folklore.



Christmas is the appropriate season to report on ghosts and chronicle their doings, and the Glamis ghost has always been one of the most interesting, socially and psychologically.  Therefore it may be a matter of disappointment to many to hear that the gloom which hung so long over Glamis Castle, in Forfarshire, has lifted.  Members of the family assert that it is now like an ordinary great Scottish house, and the wing from which sounds and groans were always said to issue is now in common use and normally quiet.
   What the mystery was none ever knew except the owner, the steward, and the heir, who was told when he reached his majority.  The most generally believed in theory was of a monster – a kind of Frankenstein – kept hidden in the haunted wing of the castle, who presumably is now dead.  An attempt was made to penetrate this mystery some years ago, says the London Morning Leader, when, it is said, Lady Strathmore laughingly suggested to her guests one night at dinner that each one  should hang a towel out of his or her window the next morning, the inference being that the window which did not show one of these would be the window of the haunted room.  The next morning the towels were hung out, to the great annoyance of Lord Strathmore, who ordered the servants to take them in at once, and expressed himself severely on what he termed a breach of courtesy and hospitality.  The party broke up, and the mystery remained as great as before.  


Friday, 16 December 2016

Outis, Notes & Queries, 1908

   Who is Outis?  Quite literally, Nobody.  



   When  Odysseus was battling the Cyclops Polyphemus, and put out the monster’s eye, he said his name was ΟΥΤΙΣ, meaning ‘No-one’.  The other Cyclopes responded to the agonised shrieks of their compatriot and asked who had hurt him.  ‘No-one,’ he said, so they went off again and Odysseus escaped to fight another day.  ΟΥΤΙΣ has ever since been a handy pseudonym for someone who wished to be discreet about their true identity.  So, its English form of Outis was used as ‘Anon’ by the author of a piece about Glamis Castle which appeared in Notes and Queries in 1908.  The article is by no means original and contains nothing outside the 'norm' or Glamis legends, but its content is instructive to the extent by which it shows these tales had been crystallised by the very beginning of the 20th century and thereafter taken (and endlessly regurgitated) as 'fact'.

Many readers of ‘N. & Q.’ have doubtless heard of the ‘Mystery of Glamis.’  It was told to the present writer some sixty years ago, when he was a boy, and it made a great impression on him.  He heard the legend related quite recently, in nearly the same words.  The story was, and is, that in the Castle of Glamis, the celebrated old castle of the Earls of Strathmore, is a secret chamber.,  In this chamber is confined a monster, who is the rightful heir to the title and property, but who is so unpresentable that it is necessary to keep him out of sight and out of possession.  The secret is supposed to be known to three persons only – the Earl of Strathmore, his heir and the manager of the estate.  This terrible secret is said to have a depressing effect on the holder of the title (who, if the legend were exact, would not be in possession lawfully of either title or property) and on his heir. When the legend of my childhood was recently repeated in my hearing, I ventured to suggest that the Earl of Strathmore, at the time I heard the story, was about seventy years of age, and the reputed monster, in order to have a claim superior to his brother’s, must have been still older than the one who bore the title of Earl.  As in captivity the monster would have had difficulties in producing a legitimate monster to carry on the legend, it was improbable that there could now survive any imprisoned monster whose presence and claim would exercise a depressing effect on the present holder of the title.  This view, however, received little support from my audience, the general verdict being that the legend was so well-established and interesting that it was almost impious to attempt to explain it away. It was also advanced, as evidence against my view, that a member of the family had recently stated that the mystery was ‘the same as ever,’ and that, therefore, the monster must still exist.  Although nearly every one who has ever been to Glamis, and many who have never been there, are generally believed to be able to speak with authority regarding the monster, the family are known to discourage the many embroidered editions of the legend to which the public have held so pertinaciously, and they are in no way responsible for this long lived myth. On re-reading lately Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,’ I came upon a passage in a letter written in 1830, which would seem to help to explain the Mystery of Glamis.  I sent this to ‘N. & Q.’ at the risk of being impeached for trying to spoil a good legend, which has long been popular public property. It will be borne in mind that, in addition to the monster, the salient points in the mystery are the secret chamber, and the secret known to only the holder of the title, his heir, and the third person – the family lawyer or manager.  Now this is what Sir Walter wrote on the subject nearly eighty years ago: ‘I have been myself at two periods of my life, distant from each other, engaged in scenes favourable to that degree of superstitious awe which my countrymen expressively call being eerie.’ ‘On the first of these occasions I was only nineteen or twenty years old, when I happened to pass a night in the magnificent old baronial Castle of Glamis, the hereditary seat of the Earls of Strathmore.  The hoary pile contains much in its appearance, and in the traditions connected with it, impressive to the imagination.  It was the scene of the murder of a Scottish King of great antiquity – not indeed the gracious Duncan, with whom the name naturally associates itself, but Malcolm the Second. It contains also a curious monument of the peril of feudal times, being a secret chamber, the entrance of which, by the law or custom of the family, must only be known to three persons at once, viz. the Earl of Strathmore, his heir apparent, and any third person they may take into their confidence.  The extreme antiquity of the building is vouched by the thickness of the walls, and the wild and straggling arrangement of the accommodation within doors.’ Thus we have here the greater part of the legend as popular with the public – the mystery; the secret chamber known only to the Earl, his heir, and a third person taken into confidence; and the secret preserved from generation to generation by the law or custom of the family.  The monster does not, indeed, find a place in Sir Walter Scott’s account, but this may have been provided later by some one with the aid of superstitious awe called ‘being eerie,’ in the place so favourable thereto. The chamber, like that known in one or two other ancient buildings, probably led to a secret exit, to be used as a means of escape in case of danger.  The thickness of the walls, and the arrangement of the accommodation as described, would much favour the provision of such a secret chamber and passage.  And if existing conditions be as suggested, then a member of the family may with perfect accuracy have recently assured an inquirer that the Mystery of Glamis was now even the same as ever.