Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Ghost of Lady Janet Douglas

Glamis Castle located in Angus, Scotland near Edinburgh is considered one of Scotland’s most haunted castles. 

Just like most castles that have been around for hundreds of years Glamis Castle (pronounced glamz) has more than one ghost.

But by far the most tragic spirit at Glamis is Lady Janet Douglas.

Lady Janet Douglas married the 6th Lord of Glamis—one of the many Earls of Strathmore who lived at Glamis in its 600-year history. The couple lived happily together with their son until Lord Glamis died in 1528. 

Her husband’s death unfortunately left Janet vulnerable to James V who bore an increasing hatred for her family due to the fact he despised his stepfather, who was a Douglas, and Lady Janet’s brother.

In the Kings eyes, the Douglas Clan was his worst enemies. Knowing Lady Janet Glamis didn't have Lord Glamis to protect her; King James decided to hurt his stepfather through Janet. 

He accused her of creating potions that she intended to use to kill him. So the king basically accused Lady Janet of witchcraft. He took this a step further and also accused her son John.

James imprisoned Janet and John in the dungeons at Edinburgh Castle and claimed Glamis Castle for his own. He then set about the task of proving they had conspired to use witchcraft against him. 

This proved to be harder than he expected for Lady Janet was respected and loved by many and, her character was considered beyond reproach.

In his attempts to make the charges stick, James, resorted to torturing her family members and servants to get evidence. Placed on the rack, his victims broke down and gave him the false testimony he needed to prove Lady Janet’s guilt. He even put Janet’s 16-year old son John on the rack after he was forced to watch others he loved being tortured.

Because of this false testimony, Lady Janet and John were convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death. 

The dungeons at Edinburgh Castle were so dark that by the time Lady Janet was led to her execution; she was nearly blind from her long imprisonment. It is said the crowd that watched her burn alive was silent, for they knew she was innocent, but none would dare challenge the vengeful James.

Not long after her execution Lady Janet’s ghost began appearing at Glamis Castle. She has become known as “The Grey Lady” over the years. 

Most often she is seen kneeling in prayer at the foot of the altar in the castle’s chapel. To this day in this chapel, a seat is reserved for her, no one else is allowed to sit on it. Witnesses over the centuries have always noted how “sad” she appears. Others state they feel an intense sadness upon entering the chapel. 

An unexplained knocking is heard in the chapel. Some state that this sound is the pounding of the workers who built Lady Janet's wood pyre.

Her ghost is also seen in the turret above the castle’s clock tower. More dramatic witness reports given at this location describe that she is seen tied to the stake and surrounded by the flames that killed her.

One happy footnote to this story is that James V died before he could order the execution of Lady Janet’s son. So John lived to become the 7th Lord of Glamis.

Glamis Castle is well known because Queen Elizabeth's parents were Lord and Lady Glamis and this castle was her childhood home.

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