There are lots of woodland areas to walk around within the grounds of Glamis Castle, but there’s also a walled Italian garden. I love walled gardens, apart from the fact that the high walls protect the plants from the worst of the winter weather, they always feel so private and safe. Below is a view of the entrance to the garden.
Glamis Castle from the walled Italian Garden.
Despite the fact that it was late September there was still plenty of interest in the garden, and quite a bit of colour.
There is of course a fabulous backdrop of mature conifers in the shape of the arboretum.
I’m truly glad that I don’t have the job of trimming all those hedges, they do look great though.
I believe the purple flowers are verbena. I did have one such plant in my garden but sadly it gave up after a few years so I presume they don’t like clay soil.
You can read more about Glamis Castle gardens here. The whole place is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Here we are back at Glamis Castle, the inside of it this time, below is a photo of part of the sitting room which the Queen Mother used when she visited her childhood home, apparently it has been kept as it was when King George VI was alive and she visited with him and her daughters. You can see my earlier post of the outside of the castle here.
The two wee chairs in front of the fireplace were used by the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret when they were wee. It feels quite homely really.
Below is the dining-room with its unusual ceiling.
And the even more unusually positioned lion and unicorn stained glass windows high up in the walls.
Fabulous table centrepieces.
The rather grand drawing room with the photo of the current Earl and Countess of Strathmore on the small table, in contrast to all the paintings of ancestors on the walls.
With a ceiling more akin to the icing on a wedding cake.
And more small chairs by the fireplace, at least the children in this castle were warm it would seem!
The chapel below has a very unusual ceiling which consists of painted panels. Originally this would have been a chapel for the Celtic church I think but over the years it will have been Roman Catholic but now it is ‘ High’ Scottish Episcopal I believe, which is very similar in looks to Catholic. You can read more about the castle here.
It’s a beautiful castle – fit for a queen as you can see. We had a lovely walk around the grounds after touring the castle, next time I’ll blog about the Italian Gardens.
At last we got around to visiting Glamis Castle which was the family home of the Queen Mother. It’s still owned by the Strathmore family, they’ve been there since the 1300s. We tried to visit the castle years ago but by the time we got there it was too late go around the castle and as we walked along the driveway we were walking against a tide of people who were leaving. This time around there were very few people there which was good as when we toured the interior we had all of the rooms to ourselves as by the time someone else was entering – we were exiting. Sadly it was a bit of a grey day when we were there this time around but it didn’t detract too much from the castle, I think it looks like an illustration from a fairy tale, which is quite apt since the yougest daughter of the family ended up marrying a prince, then went on to become a queen. The castle’s name is pronounced ‘glams’.
If you’re interested in the history of the castle have a look at the timeline here. The castle has links with Macbeth and Shakespeare.
The yew hedge lined driveway below is not the main driveway, that one is flanked by fields, but we drove down it this time so I didn’t take any photos, and the last time we were there it was full of people. You might want to look at my previous post which I’m amazed to see was written nine years ago!
The view below is of the castle from the right hand side as you look at it. Sadly the old stone fountain isn’t working.
I’ll show you the interior and also the lovely Italian garden sometime soon.
Mail Royal by the very prolific Scottish author Nigel Tranter was first published in 1989
Lord Gray has been Sheriff of Angus for decades but King James VI has decided to take that sinecure away from him and give the very lucrative sheriffdom to Lord Home. But Scottish sheriffdoms aren’t in the gift of the King, not that that matters because whatever King James says goes.
Lord Gray is desperate to hang on to his only means of getting money and keeping power. He knows that his father had had a hold over King James, it was something to do with secret letters, and Gray is determined to find them so he can blackmail James too. The letters are thought to have been written by Mary, Queen of Scots and must be either embarassing or dangerous for the king.
It’s young David Gray that gets the task of finding the letters. As the illegitimate son of Lord Gray’s younger deceased brother, David gets all the dirty work to do. David’s journey takes him all the way down to London and the royal court that his uncle is so careful to avoid, just in case the King decides to execute him!
I really enjoyed this one, but I’m not sure if it was because I knew every step of the way that David Gray travelled, although he was on horseback. From Broughty Ferry just north of Dundee, to Fife, Haddington, Edinburgh, Dunbar, the fishing village of Cove that we visit, the village that’s lived in by one of my sons, the border towns we know so well. I could picture it all so clearly.
The story includes a romance of course, I think all of Tranter’s books do, and it mentions a few castles that we haven’t got around to visiting – yet!
Paula was interested in finding out more about David Rizzio who was murdered in front of Mary, Queen of Scots in her private chambers at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Click the interesting link above. David Rizzio was Mary’s private secretary and also a musician, and Mary’s husband was jealous of his relationship with the queen. You can see the rooms here.
You can see an image of Sir William Allan’s painting of the scene here.
But on to something more pleasant. Here are a couple of photos I took of the gardens at the palace.
Looking at these photos it is hard to believe that you’re in the middle of a city, albeit a small one. Below you can see what is left of some of the old abbey buildings dating from 1128 when King David I founded the abbey.These ruins are right next to the palace.
Although there are more substantial ruins as you can see from the photo below. You can read about the abbey here.
Here we are back at the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh again, inside this time. As you can see the bedroom below is the King’s Bedchamber which is hung with tapestries, has a wonderfuly ornate ceiling and Dutch delft tiles around the fireplace. Most of the rooms in this palace are fairly small by royal standards.
On the video guide Princess Anne explained that people often assume that it must be a horrible place to have to stay in, considering that there has been at least one murder there with Rizzio having been stabbed to death (I bet there were more murders than that one!) But she tells them that it has a nice homely atmosphere. I must admit that I have my doubts about the ‘bloodstain’ in the photo below, it look a wee bit too bright for something not far off 500 years old, but there’s no doubt that this is where the deed took place. If you’re interested in the history of the palace have a look here.
Sadly a lot of our photos didn’t come out well due to the dim lighting to preserve the tapestries and soft furnishings, they look blurred like the two below. Obviously you aren’t allowed to use a flash.
Below is a painting of King James VI.
I’m sure that the dining room is used when the Queen visits this palace, usually she stays here and does some entertaining and has garden parties before continuing on to her holiday home in the Highlands – Balmoral.
Some of the paintings in the Long Gallery below were damaged after the Jacobite Rebellion, presumably by Cumberland’s troops but they’ve been well patched up. Someone called these long galleries ‘treason rooms’ as they are the only spaces where people of a treasonous nature could talk without the danger of being overheard. When ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ took possession of this palace in 1745 he held a grand ball. I think it would have been held in this room, unless there is a ballroom which is not open to the public. There’s a secret door in the panelling!
I could have quite happily sat down to soak up the atmosphere, but I don’t think that would have gone down well with the attendants who I must mention were almost all young women and wearing wonderful kilts which looked to me to be men’s kilts, certainly they folded over on the male side anyway. Sadly I don’t have a photo of them as I don’t think that would have gone down well either.
A couple of weeks ago we decided to visit Holyrood Palace, in Edinburgh, I had only peered at it through the railings previously. As usual it’s the places nearby that get overlooked while we concentrated on visiting far-flung places.
Below is a stitch of the palace which is more correctly called the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Holy rood of course means holy cross.
As you can see the architecture is of the Scots Baronial type which was influenced by French and Italian architecture.
The photo below is of the courtyard in the centre of the building, it’s a lovely green space to look out onto.
It all seemed quite empty at this point but when we got inside there seemed to be far too many people in the smallish rooms. I think I would even have felt that if there had not been an ongoing pandemic, some of them had obviously just come off planes! Anyway, we seem to have survived and I’ll blog about some of those rooms tomorrow!
When we visited Edzell Castle last week we realised that there must have been a source of water nearby, although it certainly wasn’t obvious, so we went on a wee walk in search. About a half a mile as the crow flies from the castle and maybe double that by the road we found the West Water which if you were travelling by car you would have no idea it was there as it’s down quite a steep and wooded path off the road. It’s lovely and clear, quite fast running, and with rocks to sit on it would be a lovely place for a picnic.
As you can see the surrounding rock is red sandstone, the same rock which Edzell Castle was built from, presumably there’s an old quarry nearby.
We walked across Pirner’s Brig, which is quite a high and not very steady feeling metal bridge, but we survived!
The photos below are the ones I took on my phone.
Some of the surrounding rocks are conglomerate, with big pebbles stuck in the sandstone, when they are washed out by the water it leaves big indentations in the sandstone.
And just to finish off, here’s photo I took of the view of the castle gardens from a window seat within the castle ruins. You have to imagine how it would have looked with cushions on the stone seats and maybe a nice tapestry to lean back on, and of course glass in the window. That would have been my favourite place to read a book, but the view of the garden would have been a distraction!
The garden at Edzell Castle dates back to 1604. Apparently Sir David Lindsay wanted the protection that a medieval castle gave him and his family, but he also wanted his children to experience the more beautiful things in life such as this renaissance garden. You can read about it here.
The niches in the walls are normally planted with flowers but due to Covid it hasn’t been done this year, most of the historic places have just reopened to the public, the gardener is also having a tough time with the box hedging which was famous for its intricate topiarised Latin inscriptions, but sadly the box got blight and is nothing like it should be, it is being replanted I think but it’ll be ages before it’s back to its former glory as in the old image below.
The wee house in the next photo is a summerhouse which was used for entertaining in the garden.
The walls have carvings of planetary gods on them and the swallows often nest in the small wall niches, especially the star shaped ones.
There’s a well in a corner of the garden and when I had a look down into it (as you do) I could see that there was no water in it, just some sweetie wrappings deposited there by some ‘charmer’. So that led us to go on a search for the source of the water as you can’t have a castle without a water supply. Presumably there was a burn (stream) which supplied the well in days gone by but it must have been diverted or drained, probably by modern farming. We found the West Water about a mile from the castle, it’s a lovely walk down to the river with fast flowing clear water, but I’ll leave that for another time.
On Monday we visited Edzell Castle which is near Brechin in Angus. It’s the first time we had visited anywhere like that since Covid because they’ve all been shut until recently – and now you have to book a time slot for your visit, so you have to think ahead which isn’t something we normally do much of nowadays. Since retiring we prefer to see what the weather is like and what we feel like and then just visit places on the spur of the moment. In other words, we’re not terribly well organised! We had been to the garden 30 odd years ago, before digital cameras.
The castle was built by the Lindsay family in the 1500s but prior to that they had built a motte and bailey nearby. From the photo below you can see it’s now just a mound in the landscape. It is now owned by Historic Scotland.
Back to Edzell, the doorway below leads into a courtyard and from there you can see the remains of the kitchen and you can get upstairs via a modern wooden staircase.
But there’s also an ancient staircase, just mind your ‘heid’ as the lintels are very low!
The photo of the archway below is all that remains of the collapsed oven, it was quite a size.
In the photo below you can just catch a glimpse of the garden which is well known for it’s unusual and beautiful design, but I’ll blog about that tomorrow.