Glamis Castle in Scotland is said to be haunted by a number of ghosts. There is also an urban legend that the castle has a secret room that was once home to The Monster of Glamis.
Glamis Castle was constructed in the 15th century, around a central tower whose walls are 16 feet thick. Glamis was the family seat of the Bowes-Lyons family who were known as the Earls of Strathmore. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon later became Queen of England. The Queen Mother’s childhood home was Glamis.
It is also the site of a frightening urban legend.
They say that there is secret passage in the castle that leads to a hidden room. According to the legend, the room held a secret so horrible that only the Earls and their heirs were allowed to view it.
One of the Earls had a son who was born so horribly deformed and so hideously twisted in body that he could never be allowed to inherit the title. They called him “The monster of Glamis”. The boy was locked away in a secret room and forgotten by his family.
The Monster of Glamis was described as looking like “a human toad”. According to one account, “a monster was born into the family. He was the heir — a creature fearful to behold. It was impossible to allow this deformed caricature of humanity to be seen — even by their friends… His chest was an enormous barrel, hairy as a doormat, his head ran straight into his shoulders and his arms and legs were toy-like. But however warped and twisted his body, the child had to be reared to manhood”.
It is said this secret changed the Earls so much that even after their 21st birthday when they were shown the room, some refused to acknowledge it for fear they would lose their sanity.
“The story was, and is, that in the Castle of Glamis is a secret chamber. In this chamber is confined a monster, who is the rightful heir to the title and property, but who is so unpresentable that it is necessary to keep him out of sight and out of possession.”
One day, a workman at the castle unexpectedly came upon a door that opened into a long passage. Venturing in, the man saw “something” at the far end of the corridor, and when he told the Earl what he had seen, the workman was forced to emigrate to Australia, his passage paid by the anxious Earl.
The famous writer, Sir Walter Scott visited Glamis Castle and wrote about its oppressive atmosphere. He also mentioned that there was a secret room. “As I heard door after door shut…” he wrote, “I began to consider myself as too far from the living and somewhat too near to the dead.”
In 1850, when the 12th Earl of Glamis was away, his wife held a party and asked her guests to help her hunt for the secret room. They came up with a plan to open every window in the castle and hang a sheet from it. Then, they went outside, trying to find the one window without a towel, but no one has ever been able to find the entrance to the secret room. When the Earl returned unexpectedly and discovered what his wife was doing, he flew into a rage and divorced her on the spot.
The 13th Earl once said, “If you could even guess the nature of this castle’s secret, you would get down on your knees and thank God it was not yours.”
He was also quoted as telling his wife, “I have been into the room. I have heard the secret, and if you wish to please me you will never mention the subject again.”
They say the 14th Earl saw the terrible burden that the secret put on his father, so on his 21st birthday, he flatly refused to have the secret revealed to him.
In the 1960s, the 16th Earl insisted that he knew nothing about the secret and speculated, “It may have died with my father, or with my brother, who was killed in the war.”
Lady Granville (Rose Bowes-Lyons) was born in the castle, and when someone asked her what she knew of the story, she suddenly got a serious look on her face, fell silent for a moment, then said: “We were never allowed to talk about it when we were children. Our parents forbade us ever to discuss the matter or ask any questions about it. My father and grandfather refused absolutely to discuss it.”
It is generally assumed that the mystery was not passed down to further generations because there was no longer any need for it; the Monster of Glamis had died, and hence the scandal was at an end.
The New York Times published a story in 1882 suggesting that “it is now believed that the mystery has been in part solved, and that the room contained some person who died a week or two ago at a very advanced age.” Other accounts suggest the death of the monster took place around 1904, around the time the 13th Earl passed on.