Penkaet Castle is situated just outside of Pencaitland and is one of those centuries old mansions that are a delicious blend of history and hauntings. As with any such combination, it elicits admiration, curiosity and a nervous tingle down the spine. Built over 400 years ago, this cream sandstone has seen several phases of additions being made to the original building and a few name changes as well. In 1971 it was listed as a category A building.
History of Fountainhall
(also known as Woodhead or Penkaet)
Originally known as Woodhead, the property was home to the family of Sir George Cockburn of Ormiston. Legend has it that a relative of Sir George, John Cockburn, killed another relative, John Seton. In 1635 Sir George took the decision to sell the mansion.
It was later granted to Lord Fountainhall and took on the family name. A direct descendent, Sir Andrew Lauder, became the new owner in 1695 and the property was retained by the family until 1922.
When Professor Ian Holbourn, an author, acquired the home he promptly renamed it Penkaet Castle, although later owners decided it should revert back to Fountainhall House. Like any self-respecting centuries-old home, Penkaet Castle seems to have trapped the tortured spirits of a few of its past residents or callers.
Hauntings at Penkaet House
Probably the most talked about ghost is that of Alexander Hamilton, who begged for food and shelter from the Ormiston family. On being denied and roughly removed from the property, he screamed out a curse upon them all.
Only a few days later, Lady Ormiston and her daughter suddenly and mysteriously died. Hamilton was arrested and after admitting to tying some blue thread to the doors of the castle, he was put on trial for witchcraft and subsequently hanged at Edinburgh Castle. His ghost has reportedly been seen hovering at the main doors on many occasions.
John Cockburn’s murderous spirit is also said to frequent a cupboard in the mansion from which it sometimes emerges to walk the length of the room and exit through a wall.
The most illustrious ghost is apparently that of Charles I whose bed, complete with death mask, was a gift to the mansion’s most recent owner, Prof. Holbourn. The former sovereign still appears to have the occasional nap here, as the bed is often found in unexplained disarray.
Tales such as these will ensure that Penkaet Castle remains of great interest to many future generations.
In Pure Spirit
It’s not unusual for buildings to change their names but have you ever known a home to have had three different names that are still vying for influence?
Have you any more stories of hauntings or notes of history for Penkaet Castle?
Image credit: Clan Pringle, Pringle’s of Woodhead.