Moment in Oddity - Roman Legion in York
Suggested by listener: Toby Hessenauer
In 1953, an assistant plumber by the name of Harry Martindale was doing some work in the cellar of Treasurer's House in Chapter House Street near the Minster in York. Poor Mr. martindale was all by himself in the cold and dank cellar. He was working tediously when suddenly a blast of sound rocked him to his core. He could have sworn that he just heard the blast of a horn or trumpet. But why in the world would anyone be blowing a horn down in the cellar? He looked about to see if he could find the culprit. There was no one else in the cellar. He began to wonder if it was possible for sound to have come through the thick stone walls. He placed an ear to the stone, feeling silly since he knew the cellar was underground. Then he got the shock of his life. A Roman soldier on horseback suddenly rode right through the wall. And that was not all. This soldier was soon followed by a whole legion of foot-soldiers, each carrying lances and swords and wearing the armour and helmets of a Roman Legion. They marched two men wide right past Mr. Martindale. The plumber noticed that the mens calves and feet were below the floor, so they must have been marching on a lower level. The group disappeared into the opposite wall never indicating that they saw the man. Even more surprising is the fact that archaeological investigation has revealed that a Roman military station used to exist in this very spot. And that a road did indeed used to exist where the Treasurer's House now stands. Seeing a ghostly legion of soldiers while working on some plumbing, certainly is odd!
This Day in History - The Mud March
by: Jessica Bell
On this day, February 7th, in 1907, The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies organizes their first large procession called The Mud March. The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies was created from seventeen individual groups that were advocating women's suffrage. The Union held public meetings, organized petitions, wrote letters to politicians, published newspapers and distributed free literature. The main demand by the Union was for the vote on the same terms "as it is, or may be" granted to men. The Mud March comprised of more than 3,000 women from all classes. These women gathered in London on a cold and miserable day to march from Hyde Park to Exeter Hall a route that would have taken them past Buckingham Palace, St. James’ Palace, the National Gallery. Thousands of spectators lined the route, as the sight of women of all ages, classes, and professions marching side by side in horrendous weather through a muddied street was a novelty worth withstanding the elements to witness. Newspapers and magazines in Europe and in the United States fixated on the diversity represented in the march. These marches would be a common practice for the Union until women (over 30) finally won the vote in 1918, however the vote wouldn’t be extended to all women over the age of 21 until 1928.
Glamis Castle (Suggested by listener Heather Williams)
Glamis Castle is considered the most beautiful castle in Scotland. It won the prestigious Best Attraction Award UK 2015. This castle dates back to the 14th century and has remained in the hands of one family for centuries. That family is the Bowes-Lyons Family, now known as the Earls of Strathmore. Members that have lived here include members of the Royal Family. Not only is there a deep history to the land, but legends and lore abound here as well. Glamis Castle is also considered one of the most haunted castles in the United Kingdom. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Glamis Castle.
The lowland valley of Strathmore in Scotland is home to Glamis Castle. The castle is named for the village that it is located nearby. The estate encompasses a massive 14,000 acres. Before the castle was here, the area was home to the Picts. The Picts date back to the 6th century and were around until the 9th century. They left behind monumental stones that are intricately carved with symbols and inscriptions known as Pictish Stones. Initially, the Picts were thought to be uncivilized tribal wildmen who fought off the Roman legions, but scholars and archaeologists have found them to be quite different people who were Christianized and built monasteries. And they appeared to build with the "Divine Proportion." This ratio of dimensions is 1.618 to one and appears in nature, such as in the spiral of seashells, and the faces of people considered beautiful, such as Marilyn Monroe. The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was built with this measure as was the Alhambra palace of Granada in Spain and the Acropolis in Athens. Even the Egyptian Pyramids used this measure.
Robert II was King of Scots from 1371 to 1390. He was the grandson of Robert the Bruce. He appointed Sir John Lyon, Thane of Glamis, Keeper of the Privy Seal, which was one of the Great Offices of State, upon his succession. Sir John became Keeper of Edinburgh Castle and Lord Chamberlain later and he held those titles until his death, which seems to be caused by murder. He was killed while he quarreled with the nephew of the King, Sir James Lindsay of Crawford. Sir John was the husband of King Robert II's daughter and the King gave them Glamis Castle, which was built in 1376. The castle consisted of a central keep and was built in a block style. It was enclosed within a fortified court.
The castle was rebuilt with an L-plan tower house in the 15th century. The L-plan design is built just as it sounds: in the shape of an L. This design was very popular in Scotland. It was an expansion on the typical block towerhouse, which was easier to build, but made defending the entrance of the castle difficult. The L-plan made defense much easier. More changes came for Glamis Castle in the 17th century. The West Wing was added, as well as a small north-east wing containing the chapel, which only seats 46. Most of the fortifications were replaced with things that would add beauty to the castle like sculptures, courts and vistas.
The trees that criss-cross the property were planted in the 18th century. Other additions to the castle at this time were a Billiard Room, updated kitchens and a new service courtyard was installed beyond the East Wing. The Bowes-Lyons had an estate near Gateshead called Gibside that had a beautiful fireplace with the coat of arms of the Blakiston family that was moved to the Billiards room at Glamis Castle. Sir William Bowes had married Elizabeth Blakiston, which is why the coat of arms was moved. The West Wing was demolished and remodeled and the grounds were groomed into open parkland. The style of which was Capability Brown. Capability was an English landscaper. His given name was Lancelot, so we're not sure why he changed it, but he changed the face of 18th century England with his designs. He believed strongly in the principles of comfort and elegance.
In 1797, the East Wing's roof was replaced with Castellations. In 1820, the main avenue was replanted and the Dutch Garden that is in front of the castle was planted in 1893. The Italian Garden was planted in 1910. The castle as it stands today is magnificient. There is a large central keep and several corner towers all capped with the conical roofs that castles are known for having. There is a central stair tower, a crenellated roofline and several projecting turrets. There is also a clock tower that houses the family history and archives.
The grandson of Sir John, Sir Patrick Lyon, was the first to have the title Lord Glamis, which was created for him in 1445. The 6th Lord Glamis, another John Lyon, married a woman named Janet Douglas. The 6th Lord Glamis died September 17, 1528 from poisoning. It was believed that his wife Janet had done the deed. She was accused of this crime and she was also accused of treason in December of that year. Janet hated King James V of Scotland as did her entire family. She had brought supporters of the Earl of Angus, who was her brother, to Edinburgh. The King had imprisoned her brother for his acts against him. So there was no love loss here. Eventually King James found a way to do away with Janet for good. He had her accused of witchcraft and thrown in the dungeon at Edinburgh Castle. Her family members were tortured into claiming that Janet did indeed practice witchcraft. The punishment at that time was burning at the stake and Janet was burned at the stake. You might recall us talking about this in the Edinburgh Castle episode. She was the woman burned at the stake in front of her son.
With Sir John Lyon dead and Janet now dead, King James took Glamis Castle for himself and lived there for a while after 1537. In 1543, the castle was returned to the Lyon family. The Bowes family was a coal mining family and they had become very rich. Mary Eleanor Bowes married John Lyon, the 9th Earl of Strathmore, in 1767 and that is how the Bowes family became part of the Lyon family. During World War I, the castle served as a military hospital. Kind of like the story line on Downton Abbey.
Glamis Castle has many claims to fame. Mary Queen of Scots and her entourage visited Glamis in 1562. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1603 and his main character lives at Glamis Castle. Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon was born in 1900. Our listeners know her by her more popular moniker, the Queen Mother. She married Prince Albert and they lived at Glamis Castle when her second daughter Princess Margaret was born. Meaning that Queen Elizabeth II lived at Glamis Castle for part of her life as well. Glamis Castle appears on the rear side of ten pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The current owner of the castle is Michael, 18th Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne.
Legends abound with this property. One of the most well known legends is that of the secret room. Stories claim that it was made for what was described as a monster. This tale is similar to ones we have covered in other episodes in which a child is born horribly deformed in some way, which would not be surprising with royalty since they did a lot of inbreeding, and is hidden away from the public. The child in this story is the first born son of the eleventh Earl. He was born in 1821 with deformities and the family decided to tell the public that he had died in child birth. He was then locked up inside a secret room. On the castle ramparts is something called the 'Mad Earls Walk,' which is where the disfigured child would exercise. A second son was born and when he was of age, he was told about his brother. When he looked in on his brother still in the secret room, he found him to be healthy and incredibly strong. And the legend claims that the older brother lived for over a hundred years. A tradition was started after this in which the secret of the hidden room is told to the next heir on their 21st birthday.
There are other stories behind the secret room. Supposedly the room became public knowledge when a workman was doing some renovating and accidentally broke a piece of a wall, revealing the secret room. He was given a large amount of hush money, but apparently it was not enough. And then as happens with these sorts of things, the public started telling stories about what that room could have been used for. One story was that a vampire child was born to the family each generation and that it was walled up in this room. Another story was that the family used to keep their enemies in the room until they starved to death. This tale may have been inspired by the true story of the Ogilvie family. In 1486, the Ogilvies came to Glamis Castle seeking protection from their sworn enemies, the Lindsay family. The Ogilivies were shown the secret room and invited to stay there where they remained for a month. They were given no food or water and when the room was opened again, they found only one of the Ogilvies still alive and he had apparently eaten parts of the rest of the family to keep from starving to death.
Proof of the secret room has been sought. One time years ago, several guests decided to try to find the room. They hung towels outside all of the windows that they could access and they found that one window had no towel. Was this the secret room? People have also tried counting all the windows from the outside and then counting the windows on the inside and there are claims that there are always two more windows counted outside then inside.
There is also the legend about a family curse connected to the castle. Sir John Lyon was tempted to remove an
ancestral chalice from the family seat at Forteviot. He took it even though the law stated that the chalice must remain in that seat forever. Thus a curse came upon the family. Is this where the idea of vampire children being born in each generation started?
There are many stories about ghosts at the castle. One of the more unfortunate tales is that of Jack the Runner. He has been seen running around outside the castle and he cries out in agony. Jack was a black slave in the 17th century and one day the Earls decided that it would be fun to hunt a human rather than a fox. So they grabbed Jack and told him to run. He was impaled by lances and the hunting dogs ripped him apart. He is not the only black slave who haunts the castle. A young black slave was horribly treated here in the 1800s and died and now is said to haunt a stone seat by the door of the Queen's bedroom.
The grounds are haunted by an unknown female apparition. Whatever happened to her was cruel as well. She appears to have no tongue in witness reports, so she must do something with her mouth to reveal this to people. Her face appears to be mutilated as well. The best guess as to her identity would be that she was a young woman who was possibly a servant in the castle and that she stumbled onto the secret room and its horrors. She ran from the castle and two royal guard were sent after her. They engaged in the practice of silencing her, which was using iron tongs to rip out her tongue and then throwing it on a fire. Normally, a silenced person was left to bleed to death, but this woman is said to have had her neck broken and then she was fed to wild boars on the grounds.
The small family chapel plays host to the spirit of Janet Douglas who was burned at the stake at Edinburgh Castle. She has returned to her home in spirit form and has been dubbed the Grey Lady. She has been witnessed many, many times by visitors and many of these sightings have been very recently. The Grey Lady is seen at the Clock Tower as well. Sir David Bowes-Lyon decided to take a walk after dinner one night as he
rounded the castle, he caught sight of a girl gripping the bars outside
of one of the castle windows. She appeared to be trying to get out. He
started to walk toward her to find out who she was and she suddenly
disappeared, leaving him quite shaken.
A female guest stayed at the castle one evening. The next morning at breakfast she was asked how she had slept. She commented that she had slept soundly until the carpenters woke her up at 4am with all their hammer banging and such and that she thought it was weird that they worked so early in the morning when people would be sleeping. The people sitting at the breakfast table all stared at her in silence. Finally, someone said that there was no construction going on in the castle anywhere. The woman was immediately scared and the head of the house asked that she not relate this story to anyone else.
Probably the most infamous ghost at the castle is that of Earl Beardie. In the research, two names come up and there is discrepancy as to who the real Earl Beardie is, but then again, we are talking about a ghost here. The story dates to the 15th century and is either about Alexander Lyon, 2nd Lord Glamis or Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford. The key part is what the Earl Beardie is alledged to have done. He was a man who liked to play cards and he took a gamble with his words one day when no one would play cards with him. It was the Sabbath and his hosts refused and the servants also refused to play and warned him about playing cards on the Sabbath. He became enraged and declared that he would play until doomsday, every day, and that if he had to, he would play with the very Devil. Shortly after that, a stranger in dark clothes came to the castle. You've probably guessed who that stranger was and you'd be right if you guessed the Devil. Earl Beardie gambles his soul and loses and the Devil condemns him to play cards until doomsday. Some claim that his soul is in the secret room, playing cards for all eternity. Others claim that they have seen Earl Beardie wandering about the castle or leering over children in their beds. The disembodied sounds of dice rattling and a man swearing have been heard.
Glamis Castle has hosted royals for its entire existence and still houses the members of the Royal Family. This may not just be the living members of the Royal Family, but those who have passed on into the afterlife. Are these legends about the castle true? Is Glamis Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!