Thursday, 4 November 2010

Redlands House, near Killin

In 1996, Annabel Edgar and her partner, Niall Rutherford, presented plans for a Museum of Folk-lore to be based in Redlands House, an eerily imposing, mid-Victorian villa situated on the outskirts of Killin. The community council was intially receptive to the proposed museum, but its members refused permission for the renovation of Redlands. The house, according to the relevant minute, was "dilapidated" beyond repair. This, as Rutherford pointed out, wasn't true: the building had, until recently, been used as an Outward Bound centre and, according to surveyors, its structure was sound. Despite his appeal, the councillors persisted in their veto. Only when pressed by Rutherford's lawyer would chair, George Pettigrew, acknowledge the reason for the objection: the almost unanimous local belief that Redlands House is haunted.

Edgar and Rutherford were furious. They had invested a great deal of time and money in the proposal, not least the purchase of a property which had inexplicably (as far as they were concerned) been found unfit for purpose. In the weeks following his rejection, Rutherford gave a series of interviews in which he accused council members of superstition, cronyism and racism (both he and Edgar are English). His particular ire was reserved for council secretary, Harry Duncanson. Harry's daughter, Karen, remembers Rutherford without fondness. "Dad loved the local folk-lore and, initially, he was keen to help, but Annabel and Niall didn't want to know. They were bluffers and they resented Dad because he knew they were bluffers." Rutherford, for his part, dismissed Harry as a bumbling 'teuchter'. "He came out with all this rubbish about Dad: he'd never been on an aeroplane; he couldn't pronounce 'lasagne'. I'm not even sure where it came from. None of it was true. They just wanted to make him sound like some bigoted old fool."

It's easy to scoff at the community council's intransigence. A ghost, however, is seldom an asset. I've investigated numerous 'haunted' buildings. Some are gloomily situated, others badly designed. More often than not, I tactfully recommend a lick of paint rather than an exorcism. In the past twenty years or so, I've conducted nearly a hundred investigations: of these, seventy eight were satisfactorily concluded with a natural explanation; twelve exhibited symptoms which might indicate some dormant malignancy (or subtle human mischief); seven were definitely haunted. One of these was Redlands House which Billy Ure and I visited in 1993 at the invitation of Outward Bound staff members, several of whom had been traumatised by their experiences in the building. Over the course of an afternoon, I successfully recorded three separate voices (one of which hissed "What do you want?") while Billy, sent to investigate the basement, epicentre of the Redlands' phenomena, witnessed the materialisation of faces in the brick-work and received distinct blows to both arms and head. Attempting to leave, he was horrified to discover that the door had been locked. Alerted by his screams, I initiated a search for the key which concluded nearly an hour later when, by chance, a staff member noticed its tip protruding from my trouser pocket. (I'm not, I suspect, the first psychic investigator to fall victim to a poltergeist's warped sense of humour!)

1 comment:

  1. Outward Bound as a tenant and victim seems deliciously apropos.