A Visit Glamis Castle – and an Audience with the Grey Lady

Not just the look of the castle, which with its turrets and towers would not be out of place in a Disney movie, but also the extensive grounds, the charming tour and the massive scones in the Victorian Kitchen Tearoom – all this adds up to make Glamis Castle one of my favourites in Scotland.

Throughout the year, Glamis Castle welcomes visitors with various activities and exhibitions. In 2011, inspired by the Royal Wedding, saw a fascinating array of wedding dresses from past times displayed, including the one worn by the Queen Mum, whose parents were Lord and Lady Glamis. The Queen Mum was not born at Glamis, but spent a good part of her childhood there, and her second child, Princess Margaret was born there.

Not to be missed is the Glamis Extravaganza, if you are a fan of vintage and veteran cars, nor the  Grand Scottish Prom and the Strathmore Highland Games. In the run up to Christmas, Glamis transforms into a Winter Wonderland.

Glamis is said to be one of the most haunted castles in Scotland so we set off this summer to explore and scare the children.

We were shown around the castle, the tour guide pointed out the secret room behind which the ghost of a nobleman is said to have been playing cards with the devil for centuries. Reminding us to search for the window of the secret room when we went outside, the guide led us further into the castle. My son valiantly resisted the lure of the many fascinating objects around him, keeping his hands behind his back, mainly due to my hissed warnings, it has to be said. Passing suits of armour, a massive stuffed brown bear with long sharp claws, we peered into the dungeons and then took our seats in the chapel. Our group listened attentively to the stories the guide relayed, such as the sad tale of Lady Janet Douglas.

Lady Janet Douglas was the sister of Archibald Douglas, the 6th Earl of Angus, who became the second husband of the Scottish Queen Dowager, Margaret Tudor. Archibald was responsible for the imprisonment of the young King James V, during which time Archibald pretty much ruled Scotland. When James escaped in 1528, Archibald escaped to England.

James hated not only his captor Archibald but also the entire Douglas Clan, including Janet, who had married the 6th Lord of Glamis. When Janet was widowed, and left without a protector, James had her arrested for witchcraft, and burnt at the stake.

It is said that after her death, the spirit of Lady Janet Douglas returned to Glamis. On many occasions she has been sighted, a grey ghost wandering the halls of the castle where she had once lived.

The children were wide-eyed at this tragic tale. The guide told us that she had been working in Glamis for many years, and no matter how many people were in a group she had yet to see anyone sit in the chair of the chapel that Lady Janet Douglas was said to use. This group was no different – the guide pointed out that no one had sat in the Grey Lady’s chair.

She invited the children to sit there, in the ghost chair. My daughter was slightly more hesitant so it was her younger brother who sat there first. He wiggled and reported that he did not feel anything, but his more sensitive sister said that it felt a bit cold.

All in all the visit to Glamis Castle was a great success. The tour takes about 40 minutes so is suitable for children, who are also given a little activity book about the Castle. Afterwards, do have a wander around the grounds, particularly over to the pet graveyard.

Oh, and don’t forget to eat a scone!

You are too late for the spookiest event of the year, but book early for next Halloween at Glamis for scary story telling, pumpkins, and costume competition.

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Visit Mumsnet Dundee Angus to find out what other visitors to the castle thought

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