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Pencaitland

Fountainhall or Penkaet Castle

Title: Fountainhall or Penkaet Castle
Reviewed by Steven Cuthill on Nov 1
Rating: 4.0
Summary: Great outline of the history

Some great snippets of information about Fountainhall including rich tapestries and witchcraft!

Fountainhall or Penkaet Castle is a Category A Listed building (listed in 1971), and it was built over 400 years ago. It is a fine example of a Laird’s home, which like many homes of this era has subsequently undergone several grouped phases of building, resulting in four interlocked blocks of cream sandstone buildings with ashlar dressings and chamfered arrises to openings and cavette eaves cornicing.

The house bears a resemblance to the contemporary Hamilton House in Prestonpans. The lands around Fountainhall were originally known as Woodhead, and fell to the Pringle family in the early 17th Century after the house was sold by Sir George Cockburn of Ormiston in 1635, but later granted to Sir John Lauder, later Lord Fountainhall, whose family changed the name of the building to Fountainhall. Sir Andrew Lauder and family owned the house from 1695 until 1922. The house was sold to author, Professor Ian Holbourn who renamed the house to Penkaet Castle, before later owners returned its name to Fountainhall.

There are cast iron door fitments and a pair of iron jougs outside by a roll-moulded doorway. Tapestries would have adorned the walls. One was found when lath-and-plaster was removed. Two lectern dovecots lie in a ruinous fashion to the south, with a steading, stable range and earlier cottages also present.

Apparently haunted by Alexander Hamilton, a beggar who sought food and shelter and was later turned away. Alexander cursed the family. A few days later Lady Ormiston died of an illness along with her daughter. Alexander was found and tried for witchcraft and was hanged at Edinburgh Castle.

John Cockburn is another ghost who haunts Fountainhall in penance for the murder of Mr Deton that he committed in the grounds.

Sir Andrew Lauder witnessed the ghost by a fireplace in one of the rooms upstairs.

Miss Avis Dophin, who survived the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on 7 May 1915 by Professor Ian Holbourn, Laird of Foula (stayed in the house 1923 to 1935). She visited Fountainhall in 1925 to stay with her friend and stayed in the King Charles I bed said to be haunted. The bedclothes appear messed up as if slept in.

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