The Queen Celebrates Halloween at Balmoral: 1876

The Queen keeping Halloween at Balmoral

The Queen herself was the chief personage in a marked illustration of this fact [that the British sometimes ignore Celtic Halloween practices] in 1876.   Halloween was celebrated with unusual ceremony at her Balmoral Castle, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, by the tenantry and servants of Balmoral and Invergeldie. There were torchlight processions, extraordinary bonfires and the


Nearly 200 torchbearers assembled at the castle as the shadows of evening fell. They separated into two parties, one band proceeding to Invergeldie, the other remaining at Balmoral. When the torches were lighted at six o’clock, the Queen and Princess Beatrice were driven to Invergeldie, followed by the Balmoral torchbearers. Here both parties united and returned in procession to Balmoral. A tremendous bonfire was then lighted, the Queen’s pipers playing the while. Refreshments, comprising every dish dear to Halloween memory, were served to all, when dancing to the strains of the bagpipes was begun on the greensward.

When the frolic was at its height there suddenly appeared from the rear of the castle, a grotesque figure representing a witch, with a train of ogres and elves as attendants. All these made every possible demonstration of terror at sight of the huge bonfire. Then followed an ogre of demonical aspect and shape, followed by another hideous warlock drawing a car in which was seated the effigy of a witch surrounded by other figures in the guise of ogres and demons. These unearthly intruders were marched several times around the bonfire, and finally the chief figure, the embodiment of witchdom, was taken from the car and hurled into the blazing pile amid weird shrieks and howls from the masked demons, who instantly fled into the darkness with, the cheers of the multitude mingled with the wildest strains of the bagpipes, and


An attendant present at the time told me that the scene was most impressive and picturesque. Lochnagar and other mountains in the neighborhood being covered with snow, that dancing and all manner of Halloween festivities were kept up until morning; and that the Queen precisely as any other mortal present, entered into the spirit of the extraordinary occasion—assisting in some of the preparations with her own hands—with the utmost interest and zest. 

Columbus [GA] Daily Enquirer 1 November 1891: p. 10

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a refreshing change to burn witches and warlocks in effigy instead of barrels of flaming tar. Mrs Daffodil wishes all of you becoming costumes, superlative candy, and a very happy Hallowe’en.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



3 thoughts on “The Queen Celebrates Halloween at Balmoral: 1876

  1. Pingback: “Oh dear, what shall I do?” A Ghost Story: 1866 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

  2. Pingback: The Death Positive Roots of Halloween – Charles Conley

  3. Pingback: The Death Positive Roots of Halloween – Stephania Hatchett News

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