Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Glamis Castle (Angus) - Past and Present

“The house, from the height of it, the greatness of its mass, the many towers atop and the spread of its wings, has a very singular and striking appearance like nothing I ever saw’, enthused an 18th century visitor to Glamis Castle – and the same could be said today.

TOP: Glamis Castle as it looked around 1900
BOTTOM: Glamis Castle photographed during a Scottish Castles Association visit in 2019. The left wing is Victorian.

The castle owes its ‘fairy tale’ appearance to the 17th century when the Lord of Glamis was elevated to the Earldom of Kinghorne and rebuilt his house in a manner suited to his station.

LEFT: The magnificent staircase tower added between 1606 and 1620
RIGHT: The staircase tower today

The existing 15th century tower house was heightened and adorned with turrets, wings added and gardens laid out. The most striking work, however, was the four storied staircase built in its re-entrant angle and generously adorned with heraldry.

TOP: A close-up view of the striking heraldry – with what looks like a former Earl about to set off on a ride
BOTTOM: The same heraldry as it looks today

Unfortunately the castle and its lavish interior was trashed by Cromwell’s troops and it was not until Victorian times that the castle took on its final form.

Its most famous occupant was Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) who married the Duke of York, the future King. The castle features on Scottish ten pound notes and on numerous shortbread tins. Its present incumbent is Simon Bowes-Lyon, 19th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne who has opened its doors to the public. You can find out more about Glamis Castle and how to visit it here.

Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 03 Mar 2020 Updated: 19 Mar 2020
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