For centuries Kinneil House and Estate has been haunted by the ghost of Lady Alice Lilbourne (or Lilburn) – who fell to her death from one the top floor rooms in Kinneil House. The ghost is recounted in a letter from the 19th century writer Maria Edgeworth. An extract is published below.
MARIA to MISS HONORA EDGEWORTH
KINNEIL, June 2, 1823.
I wish you were here with us. We arrived between nine and ten last night. The sea-shore approaching Kinneil House is exactly the idea I had of the road to Glenthorn Castle; the hissing sound of the wheels and all, and at last the postillion stopped where one road sloped directly down into the Frith of Forth, and another turned abruptly up hill. He said, “This is a-going into the water; I ha’ come the wrong way.” And up
the narrow road up the hill he went and turned the carriage, and down again, and back the road we had come some little distance, and splash across to a road on the opposite side, and then by the oddest back way that seemed to be leading us into the stables, till at last we saw the door of the real house, an old but white-washed castle-mansion.
A short-faced old butler in black came out of a sort of sentry-box back door to receive us, and through odd passages and staircases we reached the drawing-room, where we found fire and candles, and Mrs. Stewart and a young tall man; Mrs. Stewart, just as you saw her at Bowood, received Harriet and Sophy in her arms, spoke of their dear mother and of Honora, and seated us on the sofa, and told Sophy to open a letter from Fanny, which she put into her hand, and “feel herself at home,” which indeed we did. The tall young man was no hindrance to this feeling; an intimate friend, a Mr. Jackson, who has been staying with Mr. Stewart as his companion ever since his illness.
We passed through numerous ante-chambers, nooks, and halls–broad white stone corner staircase, winding with low-arched roof. Our two rooms open into one another–mine large, with four black doors, one locked and two opening into closets, and back stairs, and if you mount to another story, all the rooms are waste garrets.
Mrs. Stewart told us this morning that there were plenty of ghosts at our service belonging to Kinneil House. One in particular, Lady Lilyburn, who is often seen all in white, as a ghost should be, and with white wings, fluttering on the top of the castle, from whence she leaps into the sea–a prodigious leap of three or four hundred yards, nothing for a well-bred ghost. At other times she wears boots, and stumps up and down stairs in them, and across passages, and through bedchambers, frightening ladies’ maids and others. We have not heard her . . . yet.
Visit Kinneil House for Hallowe’en on Saturday, November 1 (from 12 noon to 3 p.m. – last admission 2.30 p.m.) and see if you can see the ghost. Admission free. Find out more on our website.