If you could even guess the nature of this castle’s secret, said Claude Bowes-Lyon, 13th Earl of Strathmore, you would get down on your knees and thank God it was not yours.
Glamis Castle, one of the most haunted castles in Great Britain, was the talk of ancient Europe during the second half of the 19th century. The castle was connected with tales involving secret passages, hidden prisoners, initiation rites, and shadowy figures seen on the ramparts late at night. The secret was apparently so extraordinary that only three people were ever allowed to know it at one time: The Earl, the Earl’s heir (after he reached his 21st birthday), and the estate manager, known as a factor. Stories abounded over just what Earls’ secret could be. According to legend, the heir of the 13th Earl of Strathmore flatly refused to participate in the initiation rite that would have informed him of the castle’s dark history. Many suspect that the mystery died with the 14th Earl; however, visitors cannot deny the chilling atmosphere felt in the Castle, especially in the lonely hours past midnight.
“I must own,” wrote Sir Walter Scott of his 1790 overnight visit to the castle, “as I heard door after door shut, after my conductor had retired, I began to consider myself as too far from the living and somewhat too near to the dead.”
Earl of Strathmore
Glamis Castle was not just any principality. It was the seat of the Earl of Strathmore, a title still currently held by the Bowes-Lyon family – the maternal kinfolk of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen Mother, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, was the daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore.
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