Four Tales from Dalzell House
The Green Lady
”A long time ago, a lonely lady lived in luxurious seclusion pining for a lost love. She spent her days among silks and satins, sighing softly as she sat before her mirror, her pale sad face gazing into its glassy depths. One day, as she stared unseeing, a cool breeze from the open window made her shiver. She pulled her robe closer around her shoulders, the pale green Chinese silk rustling and shimmering in the wan sunlight. Desolation swept over her and she glanced yet again at the small dark bottle that nestled innocently among the elegant perfume flasks on her dresser. She reached out with trembling fingers, the sleeve of her robe brushing against one of the tall flasks. It fell unnoticed to the floor, the heady scent of oriental perfume filling the air as she raised the tiny bottle to her lips…”
This could be the story behind the mystery of the Green Lady of Dalzell House? Could she have commited suicide? Perhaps she was murdered? Those who have encountered her have yet to discover her secret. And there have been many, among them a terrified schoolboy who babbled about ‘a green lady with bloodshot eyes’ floating towards him out of the paneling in the Pipers’ Gallery. Then there were the security guards who saw flashing lights, and heard the floorboards creak and the sound of footsteps. Their dogs barked into seemingly empty rooms and refused to cross the threshold. But one thing is sure… the Green Lady’s bedroom fills with the scent of a heady oriental perfume.
Dalzell House and the Covenanters’ Oak
The very sight of Dalzell House, now within the grounds of Dalzell Country Park, Motherwell, almost guarantees at least one ghostly inhabitant. The oldest part, the central peel tower, was built in the 15th century and it has 17th and 19th century additions. Until 1952, it was the seat of the Hamiltons of Dalzell, and as such had a turbulent and colourful history. During the persecution of Scottish Presbyterians – the Covenanters – in the 17th century, the grounds of Dalzell House provided a safe shelter for ‘conventicles’, open-air religious services. The Hamiltons were sympathetic to the Covenanters’ cause, and a huge oak about 50 metres from the house (see photo) is known as the Covenanters’ Oak. It is thought that, even at the time when it was spreading its protective branches over the Covenanting minister and his flock, it was already over 500 years old. Less than a century later it was to witness Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army in retreat from Derby in 1745, looting the parish as it passed through.
The White Lady
It was during the 19th century that Dalzell House became a truly stately home, in keeping with the social status of the Hamilton family at that time. Royal visits were frequent, and shooting and fishing parties were the order of the day. This is the period that the White Lady is thought to come from – a serving girl or housemaid who, abandonned by her lover, and finding herself ‘in the family way’, threw herself off the battlements into the rocky gorge of the Whinney Burn. Perhaps some aristocratic conscience was pricked by her desperate act.
The Grey Lady
The Great War of 1914-18 brought a change to the house. The North wing was converted into a military hospital and was soon filled with convalescing soldiers. The House’s third ghost, ‘The Grey Lady of the Dalzells’, haunts this wing, her grey appearance being the grey uniform of the army nurses of the time.
So the three ladies of Dalzell retain their secrets and, now that the hosue is now longer open to the public, they will probably continue to do so. But, if you should be in the grounds, listen for the sound of mocking ghostly laughter.