Ballechin House was a Georgian Estate built in 1806 and inhabited by the Stuart family. It went through a variety of owners until 1963 when a fire destroyed all but a few of the outbuildings and servants quarters. Major Robert Stuart, who inherited the house in 1834, was its most notorious and eccentric inhabitant. He is basically responsible for Ballechin’s well-earned reputation as one the most haunted houses in Scotland.
Robert served in the Indian Army from 1834 to 1850, during which time he leased the house to a variety of tenants. While in the army Robert was exposed to the Hindu doctrines of reincarnation and the transmigration of souls. When Robert returned to Ballechin he not only emphatically believed in these concepts, he also was convinced that when he died he would return as a dog, and so kept 14 dogs so that his soul would have an adequate vessel to re-enter when he died.
Along with this he also developed a pronounced dislike for people, and found that he preferred the company of dogs. He became a recluse and was regarded by the townspeople as harmless, but very eccentric. I’m sure he was the subject of many an alcohol fueled gossip session at the local pub, as well as the butt of many a joke. He never married, but rumor had it that he had an affair with his much younger housekeeper, who died there in 1873, aged 27.
Robert died in 1876 and his nephew, John Skinner who adopted the surname of Stuart, inherited the house. John did not want his cranky, neurotic uncle to come back and live with him, and so he had all the dogs shot. Robert, now a spirit, no longer had a new body to inhabit, and was forced to hang around, an unhappy, disembodied soul with nowhere else to go. John’s wife mentioned numerous times feeling the presence of and actually smelling the odor of dogs, despite John having killed all of them. Many guests and family friends who stayed there mentioned feeling the same thing.
In 1896 a family leased the house for 12 months. After 11 weeks of putting up with the ghostly mutterings, thumps, quarrels, screams, having the bedclothes ripped of them in the middle of the night and the sound of limping footsteps (Robert walked with a limp, due to an injury he suffered while in India!) they left, forfeiting 9 months of rent payments.
A group of Spiritualists stayed in the house to observe the reported hauntings and noted loud banging noises and many of the phenomena mentioned above. Too bad the place burned down, sounds like fun.