Sunday, 6 March 2016

American Fame

Proof about the widespread nature of the Glamis legends by the turn of the 20th century is found in many places, among them the articled below from the San Francisco Call, vol. 87, no. 178, 27th May 1901 (syndicated from the New York Tribune).  The piece is quite accurate in its historical detail, and the 'Secret Room' is given prominence, but no mention of any ghosts!


   One of the most picturesque and beautiful of the old Scottish castles is Glamis castle, the ancient seat of the Earls of Strathmore, it dates back to the dark ages, having been a royal residence in the time of King Malcolm, and remained so until the end of the fourteenth century.  At the marriage of the daughter of King Robert II to Sir John Lyon, in 1372, the lands and thanedom of Glamis were given to the bridegroom by the King.  The present family of Lyon, Earls of Strathmore, is directly descended from him.  At Sir John’s death he was buried among the Kings of Scotland at Scone.
   Glamis Castle is generally regarded as the scene of the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth, although Cawdor makes the same claim, and the room which is supposed to have been the fatal chamber is still shown.
   Sir Walter Scott once spent a night at Glamis, in 1794, and in a note to “Waverley” he says:  “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’ ”.
   The walls of the castle are so thick that hidden stairways and passages are frequent in them, and a secret room exists whose location is known only to the reigning Earl, is eldest son and his business manager.  The main entrance js singularly small and low, and the door is of heavy oak, studded with iron nails.  Directly inside the door is an iron gate, opening on the great staircase, which is in a circular tower and ascends spirally.  It has 143 steps, each a single stone six feet ten inches across.

Main entrance of the Castle.

   The drawing-room, formerly the banqueting hall, is sixty feet long and twenty-two feet wide, with a fireplace reaching the ceiling and guarded by four lions.
   There are many interesting old pictures and relics, one of the most valued of which is the portrait by Sir Peter Lely of the famous Claverhouse.  His coat, of buff coloured leather ornamented with silver, hangs on a chair near it.  Claverhouse (Viscount Dundee) was  an intimate of the Strathmore of that period and was much at Glamis.
   Other cherished relics are the watch and sword of Prince Charlie, who spent two nights at Glamis.  It is said that eighty-eight beds were prepared for his suite.  The walls in Prince Charlie’s room are supposed to contain a concealed staircase.
   The gardens at Glamis were laid out by the present Lord Strathmore and are renowned throughout the kingdom for their beauty, the grapes being particularly celebrated.  Lady Strathmore always keeps the drawing-room full of flowers, which she arranged herself.  Her daughters are also artistic in their tastes.  Lady Anne Lyon being a clever painter and Lady Maud Lyon a skilful violinist.  Lady Strathmore embroiders with exquisite taste and skill, and has worked all the altar cloths for their private chapel, which is considered one of the most beautiful in the United Kingdom.  Its panels were painted in 1688 by De Witt, a Dutch artist, and each represents a scene in the life of the Christ of his apostles.’

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