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Springkell House


Dating from 1734, Springkell House was built by the Maxwell family, Barons of Kirkconnel and Springkell since 1609. The mansion passed into the hands of the Johnson-Ferguson family in 1894 when Springkell was sold to Sir Jabez Edward Johnson-Ferguson (Born 27 November 1849 – Died 10 December 1929), Director of the Bolckow Vaughan mining company and Member of Parliament for Loughborough. Springkell House is now establishing itself as a wedding venue and is situated within the registration of district of Gretna.

Though, as far as I am aware, Springkell House is not haunted, but I came across a reference in a letter between the first biographer and editor of Robert Burns, Dr James Currie (Born 31 May 1756, Kirkpatrick Fleming – Died 31 August 1805) and Sir Walter Scott (Born 15 August 1771 – Died 21 September 1832), in which Currie mentioned that he encountered a ghost somewhere within the vicinity of Springkell House whilst he was a guest there.

I am glad you have a copy of the old ballad “I wish I were where Helen lies” I have seen the tomb of the lover, Fleming, a thousand times. Kirkconnell church-yard and Kirkconnell Lee, the scene of this story, are in the parish where I was born, and of which my father was clergyman. They are on the banks of the little river Kirtle, my parent stream. I hope your verses introduce this sweet stream: if they do not, I wish you would make them do it. It is a wizard scenery all round. There are, within half a mile, two old towers, inhabited each by a bogle or brownie, very active spirits in my younger days, but now seldom heard of, as I was told when last in the country. The house of Spring-kell belonging to Sir William Maxwell, is below Kirkconnell church-yard, on the same river Kirtle, about half a mile, and Sir William has allowed a wash-house to intrude itself into the vicinage of the church-yard, the scenery of which is in all other respects dark, solemn, and awful. The church itself has long been in ruins, but the cemetery of the family of Springkell, is there: and a finer situation for a burial-ground cannot be conceived. Kirkconnell Lee (part of which is the church yard) is a holm round which the river winds in a semicircle. The opposite bank is high, steep and woody. Here was concealed the murderer; and hence flew the arrow or shot, which pierced Helen Irving's heart.

'While I was on a visit at Sir William Maxwell's, many years ago, I wandered out alone one summer evening into this beautiful and solemn scene; and here, strange to say I met with a ghost! This is not the only ghost I have seen in my time; I met with another in Wales. I have often told the story of my Welsh and Scottish ghosts in conversation; and if I had now time, I would commit the whole to writing, in hopes that they might fall on some combustible part of your fancy, and perhaps kindle a blaze there.

'I am glad that you have any notice of Annan Water, I am myself of Annandale born, within a short distance of that beautiful river, on the banks of which stands the residence of my ancestors, now in possession of Colonel Dirom.


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