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Glamis Castle (Angus, Scotland)
Member Name: jo@145
Glamis Castle (Angus, Scotland)
Advantages: Interesting castle
Disadvantages: Not cheap for families, and not suitable for disabled inside the castle
Glamis castle is in Angus, Scotland just 5 miles from Forfar (the home of Forfar Bridies) and reputedly is where Macbeth murdered King Duncan according to Shakespeare's play. It is open from 10am in April to October and 11am in November and December.
Glamis castle looks rather more like a French Chateau than a Scottish castle due to the fact much work has gone on over the centuries. It has been the family home of the Earls of Strathmore since 1372 when it was given to Sir John Lyon, now the Bowes-Lyon family. The original Tower house still remains at the centre of the castle. Glamis was the childhood home of the late Queen Mother and Princess Margaret was actually born there.
The ticket booth is at the bottom of a long drive and as you travel along the tree lined drive to the car park you get a lovely view of the Castle against a backdrop of hills. There is plenty of space for children to run and play and to have picnics, as well as walks and a children's play area. Dogs are allowed in the gardens. The Castle tour lasts about 50 minutes and is guided, it costs £9.50 for adults, £7 for children, £27.50 for a family ticket and £8.75 for concessions. We even got an extra £1 of each ticket as we had a leaflet with money off vouchers when visiting other places in the area. If you only want to visit the gardens it is cheaper and you can go in the restaurant, shop and Coach House exhibition. Children are given a souvenir booklet which explains the story of Glamis in a simple and fun way and foreign visitors are offered written translations available in several languages. We had many foreign visitors in the group we went round with and some were rather noisy speaking in their own language but were politely told by our Guide to be quiet as they could read the information as they had been given leaflets but the rest of us needed to hear what she was saying! I was a bit surprised but grateful as I had missed much of what was said in the one room.
The tour goes through 15 rooms, how I wished I had taken a notebook!
The Dining Room
This was installed in the 1850's by craftsmen from northern England. The ceiling was stunning and the plaster was decorated with thistles of Scotland, roses of England and Lions of the Lyon family. There are stained glass windows, wooden panelling and some lovely paintings, including one of the Queen Mother's parents. The huge mahogany table seats 40 guests and is available for corporate events. There was a wonderfully ornate nef or ship centrepiece on the table presented by the estate tenants to celebrate the 13th Earl and his Countesses Golden Wedding in 1903.
This had thick stone walls and a domed roof, here we heard a story about a dark secret of Glamis, as this room hides a secret room which has been bricked up but you may hear cards being dealt as here some of the ancestors lost their souls to the devil by playing cards on the Sabbath. The room is lined with hunting trophies and armour and there is an old well at the bottom of the stairs which was the castle's only water supply although it has since dried up.
The Drawing Room
This is above the Crypt and was originally the great hall. It is a really large room and has an arched ceiling and some old but beautiful plaster work. The walls are 8ft thick and there is an enormous fire place which had two little stools at the sides where the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret used to sit. Again they are some beautiful paintings. In most rooms there can be found the Glamis Lions carved in wood.
We were invited to sit in the chapel and could feel the peace, it is said to be one of the finest private chapels in Europe. The ceiling has amazing paintings on it of the life of Christ and the walls have paintings of the 12 Apostles. Our guide told us that there is a ghost, although she is friendly called the Grey lady and someone was sitting on her seat! She is said to be the ghost of Janet Douglas who was burned at the stake as a witch in 1540 by JamesV. The stained glass window depicts an angel collecting the blood of Christ whilst he was on the cross and is surrounded by roses and thorns and thistles.
The Billiard Room
Apart from an enormous billiard table and huge lights, there are some tapestries and other games. There is also a grand piano and lots of more modern photos. This used to be the Library and some books still remain.
King Malcolm's Room
Named in memory of King Malcolm who died at Glamis in 1034, this room has some embroideries, a fine oak fireplace and samples of china, including a dinner service part of which was a wedding present o the Queen and Prince Phillip, but they returned it to keep it complete as it was made in China in 1770.
The Royal Apartments
In 1923 the Countess converted part of the castle into private apartments for her daughter the Queen Mother and her husband, they remain much as they were then. The wonderful four poster bed has a cover embroidered by the Countess with roses and thistles and the names of her 10 children are embroidered inside the canopy! The sitting room looked comfortable enough to relax in, but the King's Room had a very small four poster bed, although we were told this was a study and dressing room rather than a bedroom and has some of the most valuable pieces of furniture.
A ghost of a small boy servant is often seen waiting patiently on a stone seat just inside the Queen Mothers Sitting Room.
This was quite small and a bit dull and cold feeling. Everyone entering the Castle came in this way and it also had a stuffed bear that was reported to have been a pet at one time. Duncan is said to have been killed here.
We ended the tour in a room full of exhibits in glass cases that were quite interesting to look at and a lovely dolls house.
Other things to do at Glamis
There is a restaurant in the former Victorian Kitchen, using fresh local produce and also a kiosk with ice cream, coffee, sandwiches etc. There was a small shop selling local food and also a larger shop with the usual Scottish gifts.
The coach house exhibition had a short video about Glamis castle and the exhibition changes each year, we saw various Royal wedding dresses which were lovely to see.
The Italian Garden was well worth visiting and fortunately the rain stopped to allow us to enjoy it. I loved the beech trees which had grown together to make covered walkways.
We walked down to the Princess Margaret memorial and along part of the Nature trail and Pinetum. The trees were named so you could learn a bit more about them and although we didn't see any red squirrels or roe deer they can sometimes be spotted. We didn't have time to walk down to the Walled garden which is being restored, but walked to see the towers and Sundial in the garden.
The toilets - I only went in the ladies were busy but fairly clean, and there is a toilet for disabled people but unfortunately the Castle tour isn't suitable for disabled people because of the stairs, although the gardens and restaurant were accessible.
I enjoyed my visit to Glamis Castle and found it very interesting because of the connection with the Queen Mother. Our guide certainly knew all her facts and was very good at telling us about all the ghostly and spooky stories. I thought it fairly good value for money as there was a lot to see and you could easily spend all day there in good weather enjoying the walks.
It is possible to buy a special ticket giving you access to Blair castle and Scone Palace at a reduced rate and also throughout the year there are some special events.
If you happen to be in the Angus or Perthshire area I can recommend Glamis castle as a place to visit.
Also on Ciao under my name jo145 with some photos!
Summary: Scottish castle and gardens
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