In his book ‘Witchcraft and Superstitious Record in the South-Western District of Scotland (1911)’, J Maxwell Wood extracted the following details from the Winter 1900 edition of the Gallovidian, concerning haunt like experiences at Glenlee Park.
“In the north of Kirkcudbrightshire, in the beautiful district of the Glenkens, on the banks of the Ken, nearly opposite to the village of Dalry but on the other side of the river, stands the fine mansion-house of Glenlee Park, at one time the residence of Lord Glenlee, one of the Judges of the Court of Session. Silent and solitary, and untenanted for years now except by a caretaker, this eligible residence has the reputation of being haunted by a lady who walks about dressed in grey silk.
A lady, who is still alive, tells how the grey lady appeared to her one evening as she was sitting in front of her dressing-glass waiting on her maid to come and do up her hair. While looking into the mirror she became aware of someone or something behind her, and then saw a lady enter by the door of her room, pass across the floor, and disappear through a door which communicated with a dressing-room. As the house was full of company at the time she wondered whether some of the strangers had mistaken the way to her room; but she waited in vain for her return, and just as she was thinking of going to explore the mystery it occurred to her that there had been no sound of doors opening or of footfalls on the floor, nor was there any sound in the direction in which the lady had disappeared, and finally it struck her that the lady was not dressed like anyone in the house.
On another occasion the same lady was sitting up with her husband, who was seriously ill, and during the night a kind of rap was heard on the door, or about the door, which roused her to go and see what it was. Upon opening the door a face stared at her, but spoke not, and passed silently along the dimly-lighted corridor out of sight.
A guest at Glenlee, before going off to some entertainment one evening ran up to his bedroom for something or other, and to his surprise there was a lady standing at his dressing-table putting some finishing touches to her toilette. He at once withdrew, thinking that some of the ladies in the hurry of the moment had gone into the wrong bedroom. When he came down again they were all upon the point of departure, and called to him to come along—but before getting into the carriage he said,
‘You have forgotten one of the ladies.’
‘Oh, no!’ they said, ‘everyone is here, and but for your lingering we should have been off.’
One evening at dark the butler was hastening down the avenue on some errand to the lodge-keeper’s, when suddenly a lady hurried past him, and he heard nothing but a faint rustle as of her dress, or the faint flickering of the remaining autumn leaves in the breeze overhead. As it was at a time when all the ladies were supposed to be indoors curiosity piqued him to follow her and watch her movements. She hurried on without once looking round, and finally disappeared through a disused cellar door which he knew to be locked and rusted from want of use. Not till then did it strike the butler that there was anything uncanny about the lady that had hurried past him in the gloom of the evening.
No satisfactory explanation of these unpleasant experiences has ever been established.
Mr Blacklock, in his notes on Twenty Years’ Holidaying in the Glenkens, makes mention of the Glenlee ghost, and adds that Lady Ashburton was said to have poisoned her husband, who was afflicted with morbus pediculus*. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap’—and there is a further tradition that Lady Ashburton’s butler poisoned her in turn, in order to possess himself of some valuables which he coveted.
The disturbances are chiefly connected with the old part of the house, the bedroom and dressing-room previously mentioned, which seem to be the chief haunts of this yet unlaid ghost.”
The Lady Ashburton mentioned above refers to Anne Selby Cunninghame, styled Baroness Ashburton on 17 September 1805 following her marriage to The Right Hon. Richard Barré Dunning, 2nd Baron Ashburton (Born 20 September 1782 – Died 15 February 1823). The couple had no children and the Barony od Ashburton died with 2nd Baron.
Following his death in 1823, Lady Ashburton employed Robert Lugar to remodel Glenlee Park. (Lugar also worked for her younger brother and built his house, Hensol, which lies about eight miles away). On 30 June 1826 Lady Ashburton married Ranald George Macdonald, 21st of Clanranald and Moidart and 7th of Benbecula at Glenlee. She was Ranald’s second wife his first dying in 1824. On 18 July 1835 Anne Macdonald (Lady Ashburton), died at Great Stanhope Street, London.
Though there was extensive demolition work carried out at Glenlee in the 1950’s, the core house created by Lugar remains.