THE WINDHOUSE, YELL
Posted January 24, 2014on:
I was reminded of this fantastic place when having a conversation about house renovation recently. I first came across the legend of WindHouse many years ago, when I was browsing through a couple of guidebooks to Scotland. One rather bluntly described the island of Yell as a depressing place, nothing but a giant peat-bog. Well this was enough to fascinate me on its own (I’m funny that way), but then I read a mention of the WindHouse, the most haunted house in the Shetlands, with reports of skeletons being found in the walls and buried beneath the floors.
The house stands isolated and imposing high up on the island. In its prime it must have been very impressive indeed, with its castellated roof edgings. In some ways it reminds me of a house which stands on the Denbigh moors in North Wales, an old hunting-lodge which was built in Victorian times, but was found to be too remote and wholly impractical for people’s needs, and left slowly to rack and ruin. These days it is a mere shadow of its former self, battered relentlessly by severe storms of recent years.
Anyway, the WindHouse is much older. It was built in 1707 on the site of an old Celtic burial-ground, which probably wasn’t the wisest move. In the 19th century it was relocated near by. Yell has its own troll legends, known locally as Trows (pronounced “troo”), and it is thought these might be behind the bizarre experience of a shipwrecked sailor here about 150 years ago.
The story goes that one Christmas Eve (always a good time for anything thoroughly frightening), a sailor sought shelter at the house, after being shipwrecked on the island. The family were about to leave, saying they had no wish to stay there, but he was welcome to if he so wished. The sailor was obviously made of tougher – or more desperate – stuff, and so he elected to stay there on his own. During the night he claimed to be attacked by a huge shapeless mass which rushed at him. The sailor felled the strange entity with an axe, and the patch of heather where the creature fell is said to have turned a vivid bright green.
This story is intriguing, as in many ways it bears a very strong resemblance to the legend of 50 Berkeley Square in London. It happened on Christmas Eve, the story involves a sailor (or 2 sailors in the London case) seeking shelter, and a huge shapeless mass.
In 1887 workmen repairing the house found the skeleton of a large person, about 6ft tall, who had been buried at the house with his arms folded across his chest. Another burial was to be found at the foot of stairs, thought to be a former housekeeper who had fallen down the steps and broken her neck. She is now said to haunted the house, rustling about in a silk dress. Other ghosts at the house are a mysterious man in a top hat, a little girl, and a spectral dog which haunts the grounds.
The house passed out of private ownership in the 1930s when it was purchased by the RSPB (the Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds). In February 2003 WindHouse made the news, when it was reported by the BBC that it had been acquired by a couple, Andrew Taylor and Caron Reeves, who intended to do the place up. They said the tales of the ghosts didn’t put them off, as they loved the place. I’ve done some browsing on the Web, to see how the couple have got on, but have uncovered nothing. In 2008 the UnCannyUK website did a shout-out for news, but to the best of my knowledge they don’t seem to have heard anything.
News on the WindHouse seems to have gone silent. I will happily add any here.
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