Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scotland's Fernie Castle Hotel....Heed 'The Green Lady'


You would expect it to be shrouded with a tree or two, or hidden by ivy crawling up the walls. At the very least, you would expect it to be dark, gloomy and grey. However, it is not. And as you drive up the winding trail you can’t help but be a little disappointed. The green shrubbery is pleasant and draws your eyes to the imposing, but not really frightening, stark white structure that is Fernie Castle Hotel, near Cupar in Fife.

It doesn’t look at all haunted. In fact, it looks positively welcoming - and yet, the hotel ghost is well known in these parts.

The reception has plush, comfy sofas decked out in Latin writing and gilded mirrors above the open fireplace. But there is something in the air that says "This place has a history." An eerie chill breezes past every so often. You get the feeling that Fernie Castle has something to tell.

Manager Neil Blackburn isn't the least bit perturbed by the fact he works in haunted hotel. But then, he's used to it - prior to this job he worked at Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, where a Grey Lady was a well-documented visitor. This time, it's a Green Lady who sometimes crosses his path.

"If there is anything it will stay out of the way," he says. "I do believe. I just haven't seen anything as yet…but I know one day I'll bang into a ghost!"

The castle is in the parish of Monimail and was built in the late 1530s, although its foundations date back even further to at least the 11th century.

"The original castle contained a stone-vaulted keep area, a first floor which contained living and dining areas and The Great Hall, and various other rooms above that," says Neil, signalling to the stone keep which is now the bar. "The Victorian extension was added later, but when I don’t know."

There is a similar lack of evidence when it comes to the Lady in Green. No one knows who she was or why she chose Fernie as her haunting ground.

Neil says: "The Lady in Green was reputed to have been fleeing with her lover and was hidden on the third floor." Why? "Not sure, perhaps her father was storming the castle. She panicked and from three floors up, she fell to her death. Apparently she haunts the West Tower and sometimes appears in guests’ bedrooms with a sad expression.

"The last sighting of the Lady in Green was nearly two years ago, although recent guests have reported 'feelings' on the west side of the building - one boy accused his mother of poking him in the back when she wasn’t.

"What I’d really like to do is to start searching previous plans and historical documents and find out the history."

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The History of Fernie Castle

The ancient Castle of Fernie was first recorded in 1353 when it belonged to the Earl of Fife - Duncan the 13th. the family of Fernie held the lands as early as the 15th century - Walter Fernie being dead before 1496. In 1527 Andrew Fernie obtained a charter erecting Fernie into a free barony and he conferred the life-rent on his wife, Barbara Logane. Their son succeeded in 1551 and he sold it to William Fernie of Foxtoun 1582.

Sir Michael Balfour of Balfour or Burleigh, died in 1619, leaving an only daughter, Margaret, who married Robert Arnot, younger of Newton. He assumed the name of Balfour, and sat in Parliament as second Lord Balfour of Burleigh.

His youngest daughter married her cousin, the last Arnot of Fernie, and on extinction of that line the property of Wester Fernie fell to Lady Arnot's eldest brother John who succeeded as third Lord Balfour. His estate was forfeited to the Crown because his second son was concerned in the Rebellion of 1715.

His eldest son, Arthur Balfour, remained attached to the house of Harrower, and George 1 granted to him and his five brothers the lands and barony of Western Fernie in 1720. Arthur died in 1746 leaving three sons who succeeded to the estate consecutively. John Balfour of Fernie became heir male in 1757 of the Lords Balfour of Burleigh , but he died without issue in 1795. He was succeeded by his only surviving brother, Francis who died in 1818. In 1854 the grandson Major Francis Balfour, claimed the title of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, but the house of Lords on the reveal of attainder 1869, ajudged that dignity to Alexander Hugh Bruce of Kennet, who was the descendant in the female line of Robert, fourth Lord Balfour. The duties of Forester of Falkland and Constable of Cupar were associated with the Barony of Fernie.