On Saturday I took a drive to Glamis Castle – Glamis is pronounced Glams and is situated beside the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland. It was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, wife of King George IV. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Their second daughter, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, was born there.
It is a very picturesque castle set in large grounds. I took a tour and the guide we had was excellent. She was very animated and relayed the history including that of the ghosts of the castle very well. The castle is currently the home of Michael Bowes-Lyon, 18th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, a former army officer, who succeeded to the earldom in 1987. They still use the castle for family get togethers and the little chapel inside the castle for church services. The chapel seats 46 people.
The castle is also used for weddings and there was one happening the day I visited. They had a piper on the steps and the bride and bridesmaids arrived by horse and carriage.
We saw the Queen Mother’s sitting room and bedroom – Glamis was one of her favourite places to visit over the years.
Glamis Castle has been the home of the Lyon family since the 14th century, though the present building dates largely from the 17th century.
In 1543 Glamis was returned to John Lyon, 7th Lord Glamis. In 1606, Patrick Lyon, 9th Lord Glamis, was created Earl of Kinghorne. He began major works on the castle, commemorated by the inscription “Built by Patrick, Lord Glamis, and Dame Anna Murray” on the central tower.
During the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, soldiers were garrisoned at Glamis. In 1670 Patrick Lyon, 3rd Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, returned to the castle and found it uninhabitable. Restorations took place until 1689, including the creation of a major Baroque garden.
John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, succeeded in 1753, and in 1767 he married Mary Eleanor Bowes, heiress to a coal-mining fortune. She was an only child and her father insisted that John Lyon could marry his daughter on the proviso that he took her last name, hence the Bowes Lyon surname coming into being.
In 1900, Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon was born, youngest daughter of Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and his countess, Cecilia. She spent much of her childhood at Glamis, which was used during the First World War, as a military hospital. She was particularly instrumental in organising the rescue of the castle’s contents during a serious fire on 16 September 1916. On 26 April 1923 she married Prince Albert, Duke of York, second son of King George V, at Westminster Abbey.
Since 1987 an illustration of the castle has featured on the reverse side of ten pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from his double first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I. Although described as a Union of Crowns, until 1707 there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head (as opposed to the implied creation of a single Crown and a single Kingdom, exemplified by the later Kingdom of Great Britain). There had been three attempts in 1606, 1667, and 1689 to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early 18th century that both political establishments came to support the idea, albeit for different reasons.
The Acts took effect on 1 May 1707. On this date, the Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament united to form the Parliament of Great Britain, based in the Palace of Westminster in London, the home of the English Parliament. Hence, the Acts are referred to as the Union of the Parliaments. On the Union, the historian Simon Schama said “What began as a hostile merger, would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world … it was one of the most astonishing transformations in European history.”