A ghostly housekeeper greets guests at ancient Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire, reveals ROBIN WHEELER
My sister has as country neighbours a well-known local family – let’s call them the Winterbornes. Their matriarch, Alice Winterborne, told my sister the following story.
When she was a little child, about six years old, she had been taken by her parents up to Scotland to stay with friends who owned Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire, an imposing 800-year-old fortress in the Scottish Baronial style.
After recovering from their journey, Alice’s parents came downstairs for a welcome drink before dinner.
It was a convivial gathering, and Alice was rather overlooked for a while.
Soon enough she became tired, and tugging at her mother’s sleeve, asked to be taken to bed.
Her mother, engrossed in conversation, was impatient. ‘Darling, you know where your room is, just take yourself to bed’.
But she had forgotten that while Alice’s little overnight bag had been taken up to her room by the servants, she herself had never been there.
The downcast child walked to the hall where they had first come in, where a large staircase led upstairs.
Waiting for her at the foot of the stairs was a lady in a long gown, with a mob cap on her head. In her hand was a candle in a holder, that made the shadows in the corners of the staircase flutter.
The lady smiled at Alice and stretched out a hand to her. Alice took her hand, immediately sensing that she could trust this lady in her funny old-fashioned clothes.
Not a word was spoken as they made their way up stairs, along corridors, down stairs again, through door after door until at last they reached a little nursery bedroom.
The lady threw back the covers and Alice climbed into a very soft and comfortable bed. On the stand by the bed was another candle, which the lady lit from her own, before tucking Alice up and gliding quietly out of the room.
Alice drifted into sleep, but some time later was woken up by her mother bursting into the room. ‘Darling I’m so sorry! I thought you knew the way! How on earth did you get here?’
Alice told her about the nice lady with the candle who had led her to the room.
Reassured that all was well, her mother kissed Alice goodnight before returning to the dinner party downstairs. The faces all turned towards her as she walked back into the dining room.
‘Everything alright? How did she find the room?’
‘Well, your housekeeper met her at the staircase and took her up – so kind of her to look after Alice. Alice told me she was a really nice lady’
‘Yes, she is. She’s been looking after guests at Fyvie for more than 300 years now.’
ROBIN WHEELER: “Educated at Harrow and Cambridge, barrister, cavalry officer in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, mature student in theology (BA, MA, PhD) and author of ‘Palmer’s Pilgrimage’ about the life of William Palmer of Magdalen. Military lawyer in the Army Legal Service then Full Time Reserve officer in a number of posts, currently a major and staff officer in the Headquarters of the Royal Armoured Corps. Now living the dream on the Isle of Wight and hoping to achieve ‘caulk-head’ status.