Thursday, November 10, 2022

HGB Ep. 460 - Tulloch Castle and Fay's House

Moment in Oddity - Breaded Han Solo

Who doesn't love a nice warm slice of freshly baked bread, smothered with a tab of butter? And most of our listeners are familiar with a certain galactic Star Wars movie smuggler by the name of Han Solo. Well, what about combining a love of bread with that oh-so-famous movie character. That is exactly what a San Francisco bakery did. One House Bakery, located in Benicia, California, created a life sized replica of Solo, during his 'carbonite-freeze' which he was encased in by Darth Vader. The mother/daughter bakery duo, lovingly dubbed their creation, 'Pan (or pawn) Solo'. Their creation consists of two types of breads. One which is a yeast-less dough, which holds it's shape without rising and the second which uses extra sugar to aid in the bread statue's longevity during the fall season. The ladies worked tirelessly at night after their bakery's closing every day. Their family is deeply inspired by their love of baking and the Sci-Fi universe, as they have previously displayed with a baking creation featuring the Mandalorian and The Child. One thing however is for certain, no matter how delicious freshly baked bread is, creating statues out of it, certainly is odd. 

This Month in History - First Sailing Around the Cape of Good Hope

In the month of November, on the 22nd, in 1947, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama became the first to sail around the Cape of Good Hope. The explorations' purpose was to attempt to send a fleet to India to open the sea route to Asia for future trading. At the time that the expedition was assigned to da Gama, he had very little relative experience. The fleet consisted of four vessels and on board were three interpreters, two who spoke Arabic and one who spoke several Bantu dialects. Portions of his route included the Canary Islands and Santiago, located in the Cape Verde Islands. On November 7th, the fleet arrived at Santa Helena Bay in South Africa. However the actual navigation of the Cape of Good Hope, was postponed due to winds and opposing currents which delayed their rounding until November 22nd. Once arriving in Mossel Bay (maa-suhl Bay) three days later, da Gama erected a stone pillar known as a padrao (paw-dro. roll r) to mark the country's discovery, although the location was not technically discovered by da Gama. For some societies Vasco da Gama is considered a hero for opening up the trade route. Others however, see him as a tyrant due to the fighting that occurred in Africa during his expedition, and India's receiving of trinkets in exchange for their highly valued spices.

Tulloch Castle (Suggested by: Floyd Dierker) 

Built over 850 years ago, Tulloch Castle boasts a long history. This was a home of barons for centuries and eventually served as a hospital during World War II, a hostel and dormitory and finally as a hotel where you can stay today. There have been scandals and deaths and now The Green Lady has made this her domain. And there may be a few other spirits haunting the halls. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Tulloch Castle!

Scotland was an area ruled by clans. This is a fascinating part of Scotland's heritage. There are 500 clans that today, have spread all across the world. Many members of a clan were born into that clan and were direct descendants from a chieftain. But there were several who were invited to be a part of a clan. The names of clans today are anglicised forms from many languages including, Norman, french and Gaelic. The MacPhersons, for example, translates to "Son of the Parson," which in Gaelic is Mac a'Phearsain. Listeners are probably familiar with clans having their own mix of colored tartan from which they make kilts to identify members. The Dingwalls of Kildun were vassals of the Earl of Ross and also septs of the Clan Munro, which was a Scottish clan of the Scottish Highlands. A sept is a large and powerful family within a clan. While Dingwall is a Scottish surname, it is of Viking origin. Tulloch Castle is in Dingwall and this area was originally settled by Viking invaders. Dingwall is derived from the Scandinavian Þingvöllr, meaning field of council or court of justice or place of the local assembly, and eventually became Thingvollr, which became Tingwall and then Dingwall. Dingwall was an important place in the Highlands' history and leadership.

Dingwall was founded as a Royal Burgh in 1226 under a charter granted by King Alexander II. Alexander was knighted at the age of 13 and became King of Scotland when he was just sixteen years old. Even before a town was founded here, Tulloch Castle was erected. Most historians believe that parts of it date to 1166. These original parts are the south-west corner and tower. The castle would not take on the name "Tulloch" until 1507. The name is derived from the Gaelic word for hillock, Tuich. The Castle is considered the birthplace of Clan Davidson, but the Bayne family had ownership first. Duncan Bayne was granted a charter of lands around the castle in 1542 and the castle passed down through the family until the 8th Laird and 5th Baron of Tulloch, Kenneth Bayne, sold the estate to his cousin Henry Davidson in 1762. This started 155 years of Davidson ownership. Henry's brother Duncan Davidson inherited the castle when Henry died in 1781. It passed on to another Henry, then another Duncan and another Duncan and then the final Davidson owner, yes...Duncan again. They seemed to like that name. This final Duncan was the 11th baron of Tulloch and when he died in 1917, his daughter and her son Colonel Angus Vickers took over the barony and castle ownership. 

During all of these years, the castle was added to, but there was never a real effort to restore the castle and by 1917, it was in a state of disrepair, which the Vickers would rectify. A fire in 1845 had damaged the castle. Architect Sir Robert Lorimer designed alterations to be made while restoring the castle in the early 1920s. During World War II, casualties from Dunkirk were brought to ther castle, which had been transformed into a hospital. The local education authority bought the castle in 1957 and used it as a dormitory for students of the Dingwall Academy until 1976. The castle once again fell into disrepair and was renovated by the MacAulay family in 1996 and opened as a hotel, which is what it remains today. There are 22 rooms for rent and it is pet-friendly. Rooms feature some period pieces and as the website states, "All of the rooms have their own unique character and personality, with sumptuous fabrics, soft furnishings and stunning paintings and mirrors." People rave about their haggis and black pudding.

*Rabbit Hole: Now when they use the word pudding here, it isn't that creamy dessert stuff that we all think of, but rather, this is sausage. The word comes from the French boudin, which is latin botellus, meaning "small sausage." And this isn't any sausage, it is blood sausage. Generally made from pork or beef blood, with pork fat or beef suet, and a cereal, usually oatmeal, oat groats, or barley groats. What makes this black pudding is the high proportion of cereal and the herb pennyroyal. Most people probably have heard of haggis. This is a very Scottish thing. Haggis is also a pudding and its savory. This contains sheep's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal's stomach or some other kind of casing.*

Tulloch Castle has all the fun features we love about castles. There is an altered tower of three storys that dates to the early 16th century and the parapet and corbelling of the tower are more recent additions, as is the caphouse. The windows have been enlarged overtime, except for the gunloops. In the 17th century a large gabled extension was added that had two-stories and an attic with carved dormer pediments. There is also a 250-year-old paneled Great Hall with paintings of former owners, a dungeon and a secret tunnel from the basement that leads to the other castle in town, Dingwall Castle. The tunnel has partially collapsed and can't be used anymore, but visitors can look down through an air vent in the middle of the front lawn and see part of the tunnel. The castle has a restaurant called Turrets and serves up local Highlands produce and seven different types of marmalade and jam for breakfast. The ceilings are original and there are plenty of stone fireplaces and antique furnishings. there is even a cemetery here. Many of the Davidson family have been buried here. The cemetery is surrounded by a large metal fence and many of the headstones are crumbling and overgrown, but it would be cool to see.

So one of the Duncans became the MP for Cromartyshire in Parliament starting in 1826 and served for two sessions until 1830. He loved to dress in full Highland attire and everyone called him "The Stag." The nickname is quite fitting considering he married five times and had eighteen children through those marriages and then possibly an additional thirty illegitimate children. There is a story about the Brahan Seer who was known as Dark Kenneth. He lived during the 17th century and had second sight. Some historians claim he was just a creation of a folklorist and he certainly was celebrated in Gaelic oral tradition. He got his nickname because he was connected to Brahan Castle near Dingwall. He would use an Adder stone, this is a stone with a hole in the middle of it, to gaze into the future and make predictions. One of his prophesies claimed that a king would reign over Britain but would not be crowned. This seems to have been fulfilled by Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in 1936, so he did 'reign over Britain, but would not be crowned.' Another prediction dealt with The Stag. The Brahan Seer wrote, "The day will come when there will be a Laird of Tulloch who will kill five wives in succession, but the fifth will kill him." Four of Duncans wives died, but his fifth outlasted him when he died of pneumonia in Edinburgh in 1881.

The most infamous ghost at Tulloch Castle is connected to The Stag. This is The Green Lady of Tulloch Castle. The hotel's Green Lady Bar is named for her and she appears in a portrait that hangs in the Great Hall. She is pictured with her mother and two brothers and there is a distinct area that is blackened because, as the story goes, her mother was sick of her husband's indiscretions and had him blacked out. The Green Lady's name was Elizabeth Davidson and she was one of Duncan's daughters. The story goes that Elizabeth walked in on her father having sex with a servant girl. She was rightfully upset and tore off down a hallway towards the stone stairs. She fell down the stairs, breaking most of her bones and snapping her neck. And now, The Green Lady has been haunting the castle in many ways. Her eyes in the portrait are said to follow people around the Great Hall. Elizabeth does have a haunting look in the picture for sure. Her full-bodied apparition has appeared to guests on many occasions. In 2012, a teenage boy captured on camera what he believes is the ghost of the Green Lady descending the staircase.


There are other spirits here as well. Guests and staff claim to see orbs of light, feel cold spots in random places and hear odd noises like bangs and thuds. The former dungeon is now a private dining room, but there was once a 30 ft. pit under where the table now sits that once held prisoners. It is believed that a man and a boy were incarcerated in the pit and left to die. And the former jail had only a four foot high ceiling and up to 100 prisoners were packed into the cramped space. There seems to be residual energy in these areas. The spirit of a maid or servant girl has been seen frantically pacing in the Great Hall and the Pink Room. Could this be the woman who had been with Elizabeth's father?

Room 15 is said to be haunted. This room stands alone at the top of the staircase where Elizabeth fell to her death. People staying in here have reported doors slamming, knocks, thuds, disembodied footsteps and whispering. Tracey visited in June of 2021 and she wrote, "I had heard the castle was haunted and had purposely booked room 15 and friends booked room 8. I was not to be disappointed, we heard footsteps, loud knocks on doors, whispering, shuffling. I had equipment activated and an audio recording of a child screaming!"

The most haunted location in the castle is said to be Room 8. Anne MacDonald was a manager at Tulloch Castle Hotel in February of 2008 and she said, "I'm not a coward and I don't scare easily but I wouldn't sleep in room 8 for love nor money. The room has quite a reputation and we have people coming from all over to stay in it. It doesn't matter how much heating you have on, but when you go along that corridor there is always a chill, summer or winter. People frequently say that someone had been knocking at their door but when they looked there was nobody there. And we don't tell guests about Room 8 until they leave because we don't want to make them anxious."

Paul Anderson from Kent wrote on TripAdvisor, "As part of a 'Dads 'n' Lads motorcycle tour of the Scottish Highlands we decided to stay at Tulloch Castle. A real castle for our 2 lads to experience. It is an amazing place and if you want the traditional Scottish experience, this is it. Staff, food accommodation are all excellent. If you like spooks and ghosts this is also the place. My cousin who was sharing the twin room with me felt as if someone was pressing on his chest. I was woken by him ranting in a deep voice (not his). After getting back to sleep we were awoken again by tapping at the window. We were 3 floors up? There is something fishy about the place but we were staying in room 8 which is notorious for such things? Apparently a previous guest had had the same experience as my cousin?? In any event, great castle, great food, great staff if not a little on spooky side. Our pictures seem to have the odd shape and figure in them? How would you know? Well worth the experience though and we would highly recommend the place."

And Floyd shared his experience at the castle, "Now for my experience at Tulloch castle. 4 years ago I decided to take a trip to Northern Ireland and Scotland to see where my family was from. For about two weeks I drove up one coast of Scotland and down the other. I was traveling from the weekend after Christmas through the first week of the new year. If you are not aware, this time period, I am told, is one of the quietest times in Scotland as after Hogmany (New Years) families are still getting together and many shops and attractions take a break. I say this to point out that, apart from the hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh, everything was empty and I was often the only guest. About a week into my trip I found myself staying in the town of Dingwall which is located about 14 miles northwest of Inverness. I had chosen this location due to it's proximity to Loch Ness and the site of Culloden (the final battle in the Jacobite Revolution). In Dingwall there is a castle turned hotel called Tulloch castle. A castle has stood on that site since the 12th century; however, the current castle dates back to the mid 16th century. I need to take a minute to mention that this hotel is a fantastic place to stay. The staff was helpful and friendly, the restaurant and bar were fantastic( The bar is actually named for one of their resident ghosts, the Green Lady), and the amenities were spectacular for the price. Now back to the main event. After checking in and getting my room key I proceeded up the stairs to my room, room 9. Upon getting settled I sat down on the bed and started my normal hotel ritual of turning on the tv and reading the hotel directory thing. Like most it was written in alphabetical order, A-Automobile Rental Agency, B-Banquet Services, C-Check-Out, etc... Each with a title and a description until I get to G-Ghost. I had to re-read it a few times to get the whole thing. It read something like this "Tulloch Castle has a number of resident spirits who have been known to make their presence known to staff and guests alike. If you would like to attend a ghost tour please call the front desk and they will arrange it for you." I immediately got on my computer to start looking up the ghost stories and kept seeing something of the following: A guest from Edinburgh was visiting on business. After having dinner and a single drink at the hotel (mentioned to prove they had record that he wasn't intoxicated) he went to bed.He kept having a dream about these two young girls knocking on his door, asking to see his dog. He tried to tell them that his dog was dead. The man then woke up to his room being freezing cold, so cold he could see his own breath. He managed to fall asleep again, but kept having the same dream. Eventually he woke up and noticed the two girls in the room with him. He felt like he couldn’t move and the girls were suffocating him. He managed to reach the phone to phone the receptionist who came to help him, gave him a drink, and walked him down to reception area. The man explained the girls in such detail that the receptionist went white. She grabbed the man's hand and led him to the Oak Room (a banquet hall on the second floor adorned in oak paneling). There, he was met by a painting of the Davidson family and staring back at him were the two girls. The man had been staying in Room 8.... Next door to mine!!! A little rattled I called the front desk to schedule a tour and was told I would have to wait for the other receptionist who would be there the next day. The next evening I had my tour by the other receptionist (we will call him Alan). Alan explained that he was a skeptic and really didn't believe in the paranormal, God, or an afterlife. He told us stories of dungeons, torture, and disembodied sounds,but it wasn't until we made our way into the oak room that things started to get strange. He told us the story of the one little girl in the painting and how, after finding her father sleeping with one of his mistresses, she ran down the hall and fell, or was pushed, to her death. Alan paused and said "I have seen stuff here that I can't explain. As a skeptic I cant say what I think I saw, because I just can't believe it. I see something nearly everyday I work that really makes me question my beliefs." As he said this I notice an uneasy look on his face and realize that his concentration wasn't on me or the other guest on the tour. He ended the tour by saying, "When you are staying here just keep your eyes open, because you never know what you will see." I approached him after the tour and I asked him if he saw anything tonight? He looked uncomfortable and said "maybe" with a shake in his voice. I asked if it was a little girl in a green dress with dark hair who was peeking around the corner during his talk. He went white and responded "so you saw her too?" I just nodded my head and went back to my room. I know she followed me because I saw her peeking around the wall three other times on my way to the room. I didn't sleep that night."

Many people have had experiences when staying at the hotel. With hundreds of years of history, it's not surprising that there might be spirits bumping around in the night. Is Tulloch Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!

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