The Haunted History Of Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle

About Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle is the most well-known estate in Scotland. The estate is located in Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire and serves as a private residence. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased it in 1852. And it has been the royal family’s getaway since.

The history of the working estate dates back to just before the 15th century. And it was built as a tower house by Sir William Drummond. Over the centuries, the estate changed hands several times. It was passed to the Farquharson family in the 17th century.

While this renowned family owned it, the Farquharson’s changed and expanded the home. And they turned it into a comfortable country property. Complete with grouse moors and plenty of opportunities for stalking and hunting deer.

Ownership of Balmoral Castle

In 1852, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased Balmoral outright. It came with its staff and all the furniture. Rumour has it that they leased the property in 1848 without seeing it themselves! After its official sale, the castle became one of the residences of the British Royal Family. They have used it as a country home since.

When they arrived at their new Scottish home, the late Queen fell head-over-heels for the castle’s charm. And although she found it quaint and small. The Queen would later write about Balmoral in her diary. She wrote that ‘All seemed to breathe freedom and peace. And to make one forget the world and its sad turmoil.’

Once they entirely owned Balmoral, the Queen and Prince commissioned an architect. For a new castle to replace the existing home. Balmoral, as we know it today, was completed four years later, in 1856. And the royal couple would spend their summers there in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

Balmoral and the Royal Family

Prince Albert had a tragic death in 1861. After, Queen Victoria is said to have spent long periods of mourning at Balmoral. She extended the grounds, and her love for the estate and Scotland made it a popular tourist destination.

The castle was used as a private retreat and summer residence. Successive generations of the royal family used it. It was extended it further by members of the family. Princess Diana and her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, all added sections. It’s said to have been beloved by the late Queen Elizabeth II. And Prince Philip, who visited the estate regularly.

It’s used for the occasional royal visit or summer holiday. And the castle’s grounds are open to the public for tours. Visitors can’t take an audio tour of the castle’s interior. But there’s plenty to see and do around the estate.

The Ghostly Inhabitants Of Balmoral Castle

So, who (or what) is lurking in the great halls of Balmoral Castle? There are reports, according to employees at Balmoral and regular visitors. That at least one otherworldly guest is roaming the historic residence.

Sadly, you can’t take your ghost-hunting equipment on your grounds tour. But, if you’re lucky enough to spend the night at one of the cottages at the estate, you can test your luck. And try to get an EVP recording of the castle’s most well-known ghost: John Brown.

John Brown

While it is no surprise that an old castle could be haunted, you may be surprised to learn the sightings. And stories of John Brown have been passed down by the royal family – much like Balmoral itself!

Said to be seen roaming the castle in a traditional Scottish kilt, John Brown is the only known ghost at Balmoral. It’s said that this lost soul was once Queen Victoria’s friend, perhaps even more.

Although it’s just speculation, there have been whispers that John Brown and the Queen became more than friends. After her husband’s passing, which may explain why his spirit lingers. He may be looking for his long-lost love hoping they meet in the afterlife.

There have been rumours that the Queen buried one of John’s items. Rumours state she buried them somewhere on castle grounds. This is why his soul is bound to roam around for all eternity.

We’ll not know whether it’s all speculation or truth. All we do know is that John’s ghost has been sighted. And spoken about hundreds of times over. And with reputable eyewitnesses like those of the royal bloodline. We’re hopeful that these sightings are genuine!

Speculated spectres

John Brown seems to be the only lonely ghost roaming the castle’s halls. But it’s hard to imagine he’s on his own. In fact, with such a long history, it seems impossible that there aren’t more otherworldly residents.

During World War II, Balmoral was used as a home for the evacuees from the London Blitz. The building itself wasn’t affected by the war. But we’re sure some tortured souls of the past may be lingering there.

Of course, much like the rumours surrounding John Brown, the tales of other ghosts are merely that – rumours. But that hasn’t stopped curious paranormal investigators from trying. Many ghost hunters have tried to find even more spooky residents. Who’s to say? You might run into a ghostly apparition while on an estate tour!


How much does it cost to stay at Balmoral Estate?

You can’t bunker down for the night inside Balmoral Castle. But you can stay at one of the cottages on the estate. One option available is Karim Cottage, which sleeps six people. Staying on these haunted grounds is costly, though. The cost of staying at these accommodations depends on which cottage you’ve booked. And the time of year you make the booking. You can expect to pay from £645 – £1,905 per night. While prices may be steep, the cottages have space for larger groups. You can split the cost if you’re visiting with your friends or ghost-hunting crew. The property makes a lovely base from which to explore. There’s all the beautiful countryside of Scotland to see.

Is Balmoral open to the public?

You aren’t permitted in the main castle. But you can take a tour of the grounds and gardens. And any exhibitions hosted at Balmoral Estate. Shows are hosted in the ballroom, the only room in the castle you can tour. The property has a lot to offer visitors. There is a gift shop and afternoon tea at the nearby coffee shop. Tours of Balmoral’s grounds can be arranged between April and July. You can find more information on the Balmoral website.

Where the best ghost-hunting spots in Scotland?

There are many ghost hunts in Scotland. There’s Glamis Castle, known as one of Scotland’s most haunted castles, with a history steeped in tales of ghosts and legends. The castle is said to be home to several spirits, including the Grey Lady, believed to be the ghost of Janet Douglas, burned at the stake in 1537.


Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I'm a ghost-hunting expert, writer and founder of SpiritShack. My mission is to help people like yourself learn about spirituality and how to hunt ghosts!