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Blairgowrie


Visit Ardblair Castle

Murder and the case of Green Jean

Blairgowrie, Perthshire; is probably best known to-day as the centre of the soft fruit district in Scotland, indeed the local guide book claims it as the Raspberry Capital of the World. In the century before the raspberry crop brought prosperity the town had grown out of two little communities united in using the water of the Ericht for flax and jute mills. Blairgowrie can boast two castles, both still occupied, and sharing a ghost. Newton Castle is now the home of the Chief of the Clan Macpherson, but it was originally a Drummond stronghold, built in the middle of the 16th century. Ardblair Castle goes back much further, built by Alexander de Blair in the days of William the Lion. Needless to say the two families couldn't agree.

In the mid 16th century two Drummond men, father and son, were ambushed and murdered by the Blairs, which didn't help Lady Jean's cause at all when she fell in love with a Blair! A union with such a murderous family was out of the question. Nor was the Blair family in favour of the match, for Patrick Blair had been beheaded for his part in the murder. Heartbroken, Lady Jean wandered out into the marshes . . . and never returned. Her ghost, however, dressed in green silk, divides her time between the two castles.

Known as the Green Lady, she is also rumoured to have had dealings with the fairy folk, putting herself in their power by begging their help and accepting a Wedding Dress woven by them, but once having had dealings with them, this mortal life no longer held any enchantment for her. Whatever version is believed, it is a sad wistful ghost who haunts the castles, inspiring pity more than fear. In the 18th century the two families were still at odds. One of the Drummonds' most prominent members, George, a Hanoverian and supporter of the Union of Parliaments, is actually accused of informing on the Earl of Mar when he conspired to bring about the 1715 Uprising. A grateful government appointed him Lord Provost of Edinburgh and in this post, held six times by him, George Drummond became well known as a benefactor to the city, founding the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Ardblair Castle, meanwhile, had passed by marriage to the Oliphants of Gask, a family renowned as Jacobites. To-day the castle houses many relics of those turbulent times. When the family moved from Gask the 'flitting' included a table inscribed 'Charles, Prince of Wales, breakfasted at this table in the long drawingroom at Gask, 11th September 1745'. Other precious belongings of the Young Pretender are the shoes he wore when dressed as Betty Burke; gloves, spurs, bonnet and garter; and his crucifix. Laurence Oliphant had been Aide-de-Camp to Bonnie Prince Charlie so when his daughter was born he named her Caroline, after the Prince. Caroline discovered she had a talent for writing poetry and ballads, and under the pseudonym "Mrs Bogan of Bogan" she published many pieces well known to-day -- 'The Auld Hoose'; 'The Rowan Tree'; 'The Laird o' Cockpen'; and 'The Hundred Pipers'.

But being brought up as an ardent Jacobite her longings were expressed in such songs as 'Charlie is my Darling' and 'Will ye no come back again?' The Blair-Oliphant family still live at Blair Castle, cherishing possessions of their famous forbears, and undisturbed by the Green Lady who harms no-one as she searches through the rooms or sits quietly by the window, watching.

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