Sunday, 23 October 2011

Leith Hall and Garden

Rumour has it, a ghost walks the hallways of Leith Halls... no chance of bumping into one as the house is closed to the public.

Built around a courtyard, this house was the home of the Leith family from 1650 until the mid-20th century.

The ghosts of Leith Hall

He was thought to be the fourth Laird John Leith who was killed on Christmas Day in 1763 in Aberdeen at Archie Campbell's Tavern (Archibald Campbell Vitner, Castle Street) in the Castlegate during a drunken quarrel in which he was shot in the head. Though he was shot in the head at the tavern on the 21 December 1763 he did not die straight away. He was severely wounded and found in the Castlegate and taken to a nearby house where he died several days later, on Xmas Day. It is thought he quarrelled with Abernethy of Mayen and was either shot in the forehead during the quarrel or during a duel. Lord Forbes was present during the quarrel and could not get the two men to make peace. He left the tavern and did not witness the shooting. The Laird's widow, Harriot Leith sued Abernethy for murder but he fled the country and did not stand trial for a further five years. Murder was never proven and Abernethy fined 150 pounds.

In her book A Strange and Seeing Time, author, Elizabeth Byrd, wrote about the ghost of a Victorian lady in the Leith bedroom who was seen during the day. Footsteps were heard coming from the third floor, though no-one else was in the building. These sounded like a child or a puppy shuffling or scampering along. Doors would slam shut, even on summer days with no wind.

Elizabeth Byrd and her husband also witnessed poltergeist ghosts activity at Leith Hall such as a sherry bottle flying from a hall table and smashing on the floor, a tall standing lamp crashing to the floor in the study and a heavy metal pot cover which was hung on a hook over the stove clattering to the kitchen floor.

At times Elizabeth Byrd felt watched and that there were others sharing a room with her, though no-one was there. She especially felt intrusive in the master bedroom of the second floor. Her guests would often remark about the big bed in the room as having a presence and being terrified of passing it as they made their way to the toilet. This included the actress Isabel Beggs who visited with her husband the film producer Graham Stewart. Another family friend, airline hostess Mary Poulton, would not pass the bed because it made her fearful. Even her husband, Barrie Gaunt, was frightened of this bed and room. He said it was full of threat and had an overpowering presence.

There was a painting at Leith Hall of Joseph, Mary and a donkey. The picture was called Flight Into Egypt. When Elizabeth Byrd looked at the picture she would see a massive black bearded man in the painting, but no-one else could see it. Even when she pointed out the mysterious figure nobody could see it in the painting.

- excerpt taken from

 The extensive walled garden features wide herbaceous borders and has a fine collection of alpines and primulas.

From the top of the garden there are spectacular views of the surrounding hills.