Dating back to 1160, Lincluden Collegiate Church (or Lincluden Abbey as it’s known locally) has a fascinating history and is famously haunted by The Green Lady…
Bright sun and blue skies on a bracing winter’s day; the perfect opportunity to get wrapped up in cosy clothes and put your best foot forward. Spirits lifted by the crisp conditions, John and I took a brisk stroll to the epic ruins of Lincluden Abbey. Although just a stone’s throw from the nearby housing estate at Lincluden, we felt a sense of peace resonating around us, almost hidden from the trappings of the modern world. It was like stepping out of the present and into the past – and a captivating one at that!
I reached for my camera within seconds, it was too picturesque to miss the opportunity. I find the effects of the winter sun magical, giving a frosty radiance to all it illuminates. The Abbey looked nothing short of spectacular; the ruins capturing our imaginations, a bit like the classic M.R. James story – A View from a Hill – when an historian comes across a pair of antique (cursed!) binoculars and through their lenses, as if by magic, sees not the scant ruins, but the building returned to its former glory.
When the Abbey was established back in 1160, its purpose was to be a priory for Benedictine Nuns. It was later rebuilt and re-developed by Archibald Douglas – Archibald the Grim, a name given to his fearsome countenance in battle. He replaced the nuns with canons, following allegations of a decline in moral standards. In the wake of The Reformation, Lincluden found itself under attack from Protestant Reformers; considerable repairs were made and it passed through a succession of people until it was abandoned around 1700. Interestingly, the site was used as a quarry for some years afterwards.
In the heart of the choir area lies the weathered tomb of Princess Margaret, Duchess of Touraine, daughter of Robert III of Scotland. Margaret married Archibald Douglas, the Fourth Earl, son of Archibald The Grim. As we stood in quiet respect, the sun shone upon her stone memorial like a sort of divine light. Once a complete effigy of Margaret lay here, recumbent, a beautiful tribute to the lady whose life and death it marked. Sadly, the tomb was vandalised. In 1772, Thomas Pennant travelled to Lincluden Abbey; he made reference to this grim act, recounting that the fine sculpture had been ‘mutilated’ and that even more shockingly, bones were found scattered not long before his visit. He believed the culprits of this horrid disturbance had been seeking out treasure and simply left the remains of this much respected woman discarded at their feet.
In front of Margaret’s tomb, you’ll find nine weather-eroded shields which feature heraldic symbols relating to their various houses. The passage of time has rendered it difficult, if not impossible, to make out the full details but information is available to help understand their significance. Within the choir, where the tomb is situated, look up high; you’ll find further ancient shields adorning the decorated walls. Look out for two hearts (we recommend binoculars or a zoom lens). The hearts, I believe, relate to the Douglas family. A little to the left of Margaret’s memorial is a beautifully carved door, which led from the choir to the sacristy.
As for legends, by far the best known concerns the ghost of a Green Lady. On a personal level, we’ve never experienced anything there, but have received many accounts over the years. There is little known of The Green Lady’s origins; legend goes that she is connected with Princess Margaret or may well be the Princess herself, however there is no current evidence to substantiate this. A nun has also been witnessed
floating through the walls of the old Abbey which certainly ties in with its previous occupants.
Given the history of vandalism, which sadly still happens today, it makes you wonder if the haunting of Lincluden Abbey has been created to deter vandals, or whether there is real truth in the matter. An element of suggestion or in fact, a ghostly guardian, who remains for all time to protect this stunning edifice? You decide.
Do you have a story about Lincluden Abbey? Have you witnessed the famous Green Lady or any other ghostly visitors there? We’d be delighted to hear from you! Please contact the team through our website or by phoning 07791 047835 or 07912 145865. You can also FOLLOW us on Twitter and LIKE us on Facebook.