HISTORIC Kinneil House in Bo’ness – said to be haunted by the ghost of a ‘White Lady’ – is opening its doors just before Hallowe’en.
The imposing edifice, which forms the centrepiece of the impressive Kinneil Estate, will be open for free tours today (Sunday, October 27, 2013) from noon to 3 p.m. (last admission 2.30 p.m.)
Youngsters are being invited to dress up – 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, she is said to haunt the house and its grounds.
Guides will also re-count stories of the local women tried for witchcraft.
The open afternoon has been organised in association with Historic Scotland, which cares for the House – which also boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland. Neighbouring Kinneil Museum will also be open from 12.30 p.m.
Maria Ford, chair of The Friends of Kinneil, said: “Our Hallowe’en open days are always popular with local families. Let’s hope lots of people dare to visit our very own ‘haunted’ house and find out about its fascinating – and spooky – past.”
This is the last chance to see inside Kinneil House in 2013. Said Maria: “Visitors can tour the grounds, and visit neighbouring Kinneil Museum, throughout the year. However you can only get inside Kinneil House during free open days, such as this one.
“We expect the October 27 event to be busy – so our advice would be to get along early. We open our doors at noon.
“Please note that children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The House also features winding stairs and some dark rooms – so won’t suit all visitors.”
She continued: “We’ll start further tours at Kinneil in Spring 2014. We’ll publicise these through the local press and our website – www.kinneil.org.uk. We’d like to thank everyone who’s visited this year and hope they’ll continue to support the House and the surrounding estate. They are fantastic places to visit.”
* The open event at Kinneil House ties in with a “Steam ‘n’ Scream” weekend at the nearby Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway. Go on the spooky train ride, then visit Kinneil House. Details at www.bkrailway.co.uk
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 spokesman for The Friends of Kinneil said: “Lady Lilbourne was the wife of a Cromwellian General who was stationed at Kinneil House in the mid 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.
“Apparently, she managed to escape in a white nightgown, but was quickly recaptured. In desperation she flung herself out of the window 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 amongst the finest in Scotland – were discovered and the property was put into the care of the Ministry of Works, now Historic Scotland.
Since the 1980s, access to the house has been limited. However, Historic Scotland is now working with The Friends of Kinneil group to increase the number of public openings.
The neighbouring Kinneil Museum – run by Falkirk Community Trust – is open throughout the year, usually Mondays to Saturdays from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m., plus any Sunday Kinneil House open days.
The museum provides an audio visual show on the history of Kinneil House and the surrounding Kinneil 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 attraction on October 27.
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. The Friends of Kinneil was set up in 2006 to promote Kinneil Estate and Foreshore in Bo’ness. The charity (Charity Registration Number: SC038368) organises Kinneil House open days and other events for members and visitors. To find out more, visit www.kinneil.org.uk/friends
2. Falkirk Community Trust manages Kinneil Museum and the surrounding Kinneil Estate on behalf of Falkirk Council. Find out more AT www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/heritage
3.Historic Scotland, which cares for Kinneil House, is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk. Follow Historic Scotland on Twitter: @welovehistory and Facebook: www.facebook.com/visithistoricscotland
4. Images of Kinneil House and Estate are available on request. Email:
5. Kinneil Estate is on the western edge of Bo’ness in central Scotland, just off the A904 and A993 and is part of the Frontiers of The Roman Empire World Heritage Site. For satellite navigation devices, use the postcode EH51 0PR.