HISTORIC Kinneil House in Bo’ness – said to be haunted by the ghost of a white lady – is opening its doors in time for Hallowe’en.
The eerie edifice, which forms the centrepiece of the impressive Kinneil Estate, will be open for free tours on Sunday, October 30, 2011 – from noon to 3 p.m. (last admission 2.30 p.m.)
Youngsters are being invited to dress up in spooky costumes – with the best dressed winning a book token.
Volunteers from the charity The Friends of Kinneil will be on hand to tell visitors about Lady Alice Lilbourne, who fell to her death from one of the top floor windows. Ever since, “The White Lady” is said to haunt the House and its grounds. Guides will also re-count stories of the local women tried in Bo’ness for witchcraft.
The open day has been organised in association with Historic Scotland, which cares for the House. Neighbouring Kinneil Museum will also be open. Maria Ford (pcitured right) from The Friends of Kinneil said: “Kinneil House takes on a spooky charm at this time of year – and many people are keen to come along to see if they can see spot the ghost. Open days like this are free of charge and popular with families. However, the Hallowe’en event is not for the faint-hearted!”
THE GHOST OF KINNEIL HOUSE
Kinneil House is said to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Alice Lilbourne, who fell to her death from one of the building’s top-floor windows.
A spokesperson for The Friends of Kinneil said: "Lady Lilbourne was the wife of a Cromwellian General who was stationed at Kinneil House in the 17th century. The story goes that the marriage was not a happy one, and Lady Alice was locked into an attic room overlooking the rocky ravine and burn below.
"She’s said to have managed to escape in a white nightgown, but was quickly recaptured. In desperation she flung herself out of a top floor window – falling to her death on the rocks almost 200 feet below. Ever since, the White Lady has been said to haunt the house and its grounds."
He added: "We don’t know if she will make an appearance this Hallowe’en, but we’re sure lots of people will want to come along and see if they bump into her!"
Kinneil House dates back to the 15th century and was once a popular home for the Dukes of Hamilton. The building was re-modelled in the 1540s and transformed into a stately home in the 1660s.
Demolition was halted in 1936 when renaissance wall paintings – said to be among the finest in Scotland – were discovered and the property was put into the care of the Ministry of Works, now Historic Scotland.
Access to the interior of the House is only available during special open days, run by Historic Scotland and The Friends of Kinneil. (Dates are listed at www.kinneil.org.uk) However, visitors can tour the grounds and visit the surrounding Kinneil Estate and Museum throughout the year.
The museum provides an audio visual show on the history of Kinneil House and its Estate, which also features a medieval church, a Roman fortlet and a cottage used by inventor James Watt.
For many, however, the potential to see a ghost will be one of the main attractions on October 30.
The writer Maria Edgeworth visited Kinneil and the last occupants of the house – the philosopher Dugald Stewart and his wife – in June 1823.
She wrote: "Mrs. Stewart told us this morning that there were plenty of ghosts at our service belonging to Kinneil House.
“One in particular, Lady Lilburn (sic), 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."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Kinneil House and Estate is just off the A993 – the main road through Bo’ness in central Scotland. For location information visit www.kinneil.org.uk/map
2. Kinneil House is only during special open days. However, neighbouring Kinneil Museum, run by Falkirk Community Trust, is open to the public throughout the year. The Museum is normally open Monday to Saturday from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. (plus on special Kinneil House open days). Admission is free.
3. The surrounding Kinneil Estate, a public park, features remains of the Antonine Wall and is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site. To find out more, please visit www.kinneil.org.uk