All Hallows Eve: A Victorian Celebration

HALLOWEEN AT BALMORAL The Staffordshire Sentinel, 1874.

“Halloween, the observance of which is fast, fading into neglect in many districts of Scotland, especially in the Lowlands – has been celebrated on a great scale at Balmoral Castle. Preparations have been made days beforehand and the turn-out on Monday night included farmers and others for miles around. In the morning the Queen drove out, attended by the Countess of Erroll, and in the afternoon she again drove with the Marchioness of Ely. When darkness set in the celebration began. Her Majesty and the Princess Beatrice, each having a large torch, drove out in an open phaeton. A procession formed of the tenants and servants on the estates, followed. All carried high torches, lighted. They walked through the grounds and round the castle, and the scene as the procession moved onwards was very weird and striking. Having arrived in front of the castle an immense bonfire, composed of old boxes, packing cases and other materials, kept up during the year for the occasion was set fire to. When flames were at their brightest a figure dressed as a hobgoblin appeared on the scene, drawing a car surrounded by a number of fairies carrying long spears, the car continuing the effigy of a witch. A circle having been formed by the torch-bearers, the presiding elf tossed the figure of the witch into the fire, where it was speedily consumed. The act of cremation over, reels were begun with great vigour to the stirring strains of Willie Roe, her Majesty’s piper. The Queen, Princess Beatrice, and the ladies and gentlemen of the household, remained spectators of the show. It was intended to have closed the evening’s festivities with a dance in the ball-room, but owing; it is said, some of the crowd having behaved in too noisy and manner at the fire this intention was abandoned and all the proceedings were would up in the open air. The bonfire played till a late hour in the night, and the reflection was seen a long distance away.”