The once-beautiful Ballechin House was a very impressive home located in Perthshire and was considered to be one of Scotland’s most haunted locations.
It was built in 1806 by the Stuart Family and that same year, Robert Stuart was born in the home. He left for India in 1825 at just 19 years of age and returned to the Ballechin House in 1850, several years after he inherited it.
Known as an eccentric by the locals, Robert didn’t like the company of other people and instead lived his life accompanied by his fourteen dogs. He even said that when he died, he would come back to the house in the body of his favorite black spaniel. In fact, the only person he associated with was his housekeeper named Sarah. She ended up dying under mysterious circumstances in 1873 at just 27 years of age. Rumors circulated that she had passed away in his bed and, not surprising, his bedroom ended up being the most haunted location in the house.
Robert passed away in 1874 and was buried next to Sarah at Logierait churchyard. At that point, his nephew John took over the house and shot all of Robert’s dogs in hopes of preventing him from coming back from the dead. John then decided to turn the cottage on the property into a retreat for nuns. Robert’s sister Isabella, who was a nun, is said to visit the location quite frequently since her passing in 1880.
Shortly after Robert had passed away, John’s wife was in the study when she smelled dogs in the room and something had nudged her leg but there were no dogs to be found. She later heard the sounds of knocking, guns being fired, and people arguing. A Jesuit priest who had stayed at the house said that he heard screams, as well as what sounded like a dog banging on his bedroom door but nothing was there.
After John passed away in 1895 – by being run over by a cab – the house was leased to a family for twelve months, but after just eleven weeks, they moved out because of the unexplained knocks, thumps, footsteps, and arguing. They also experienced their sheets being pulled off the bed, as well as seeing the apparition of a female spirit wearing a silk dress.
In 1896, two psychic investigators went to Ballechin House to perform an investigation and they experienced the same unusual sounds that others over the years have claimed to have heard. They even saw two nuns – one was crying while the other comforted her – near a frozen stream and the nun who was crying was thought to have been Robert Stuart’s sister Isabella.
The house became uninhabitable in 1932 and stayed empty until it was demolished in 1963. But now, even though it had been completely destroyed, the house has been recreated at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery for a new display called Only In Whispers: The Myths and Legends of Perthshire.
Becky Minto, who is the stage designer, recreated the hallways and rooms of the Ballechin House and included several old artwork and paintings from the city’s collection. Simon Wilkinson, who works on lighting and sound effects, said, “This project has similarities with theater work in that we are trying to create an atmosphere for audiences, and add a little mystery.”