Mystery of the phantom piano player



By Alexander Lawrie

A NINETEENTH century piano once played by Fredric Chopin is spooking guests and staff at a historic Scottish country home.

Visitors, staff and even guest’s pet dogs have been left trembling as the ‘haunted’ piano plays by itself during the night.

And while residents are tucked up in bed and staff go about their duties at the stately house, no-one is quite sure who is tinkering the spooky ivories.

The antique Pleyel piano is housed in former home of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton at Lennoxlove House, near Haddington, East Lothian.

Local legend has it that the piano was given by William Beckford to his daughter Susan, the Duchess of Hamilton, in 1828 and it is her who is playing the ghostly tunes.

Ken Buchanan, General Manager of Lennoxlove House, said: “It is very strange to be in the house when it is quiet and you hear the piano being played.

“There is no tune being played as such, it’s more the tinkering of the piano keys you can hear, but nonetheless it is a strange experience.

“Thankfully we inform our guests that if they hear music, then it’s nothing to be worried about.

“In fact, they think it’s all the more exciting as they hope to be the first to catch a glimpse of the mystery piano player.

“There was also an incident where a guest’s dog was really spooked by the room and wouldn’t go near the piano.”

The piano, which is situated in the home’s Blue Room, was once played by the Polish composer Fredric Chopin when he was staying at the nearby Hamilton Palace.

Described as one of Scotland’s premier historic houses, Lennoxlove underwent extensive renovation work last year to turn it into one of the country’s most exclusive places to stay.

One of the main attractions is a 16th century solid black oak bed which was reputedly slept in by Mary Queen of Scots.

Lennoxlove House is also home to the prestigious Hamilton Collection, which includes works by van Dyck, Raeburn and Kneller.

Also on display are various antiquities and curios which include Mary Queen of Scots’ death mask and a 15th century silver casket.

The house dates back to the 14th century and is steeped in Scottish history having been owned by the Maitland and Stewart families, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton.

It receives its name from Frances Theresa Stewart, the Duchess of Lennox and Richmond, who bequeathed the house to her nephew Lord Blantyre, with the dedication that the house should be known as “Lennox’s Love to Blantyre”.