Ballechin House was a Georgian Estate built in 1806 and inhabited by the Steuart family. It went through a variety of owners. That is, until 1963, when a fire destroyed all but a few of the outbuildings and servants’ quarters.
Major Robert Steuart, who inherited the house in 1834, was its most notorious and eccentric inhabitant. He created the reputation the Ballechin House earned for being one of the most haunted houses in Scotland.
The Owner of Ballechin House
Robert served in the Indian Army from 1834 to 1850. During that 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 House, he emphatically believed in these concepts. It went beyond that, though. He was convinced that when he died, he would return as a dog. That’s why he kept 14 of the canine creatures. They provided available vessels that his soul could reenter when he died.
Along with his supernatural beliefs, he also developed a pronounced dislike for people. Steuart found he preferred the company of dogs. Therefore, he became a recluse. And while regarded by the townspeople as harmless, he was labeled “very eccentric.”
I’m sure he was the subject of many gossip sessions at the local pub. As well as the butt of many jokes. He never married. Rumor had it, though, that he had an affair with his much younger housekeeper. That person died there in 1873, aged 27.
Did the Nephew Thwart Reincarnation?
Robert died in 1876 and his nephew, John Skinner, who adopted the surname of Steuart, inherited the house. John didn’t want his cranky, neurotic uncle to come back as a ghost and live with him. So, he had all the dogs destroyed.
Robert, now a spirit, no longer had a new body to inhabit. Instead, he was forced to hang around, an unhappy, disembodied soul with nowhere else to go. John’s wife mentioned feeling the presence of and actually smelling the odor of dogs, despite John having killed them all. Many guests and family friends who stayed there mentioned feeling the same thing.
In 1896 a family leased the house for 12 months. They endured 11 weeks of ghostly mutterings, thumps, quarrels, and screams. They experienced having the bedclothes ripped of them in the middle of the night. The sound of limping footsteps was also heard. (By the way, Robert walked with a limp, due to an injury he suffered while in India!) Needless to say, they left suddenly, forfeiting 9 months of rent payments.
A group of spiritualists stayed in the house to observe the reported hauntings. They noted loud banging noises and confirmed many of the phenomena mentioned above.
Too bad the place burned down, it sounds like fun.