Morningside might be known as a peaceful, picturesque district of Edinburgh, but there is plenty of history to discover, too
Edinburgh is no stranger to fascinating history and culture. From the grizzly tales of Burke and Hare (Scotland’s most famous body snatchers) to the heart warming story of Greyfriar’s Bobby (the wee Skye terrier who slept atop his master’s grave for years), there is always something new — or old — to discover.
And it seems that the Edinburgh district of Morningside is no exception. It may be known for its tranquil streets and cosy community spirit, but there is also a great deal of captivating history hidden beneath the surface.
This is one of Morningside’s most famous and enthralling tales: the story of the Green Lady.
She may be better known today as the Green Lady, but the woman’s true name in life was Elizabeth Elphinstone.
The story starts back in 1715 in Morningside, which even then was one of the city of Edinburgh’s most prestigious areas. Sir Thomas Elphinstone bought a house in the district following the death of his wife. Despite his grief at the recent circumstances, it wasn’t long before he remarried.
His new wife was a young woman called Elizabeth Pittendale, who took the name Elizabeth Elphinstone after their marriage. She moved into Sir Thomas’s home on Morningside’s Balcarres Street and the two co-habited happily.
However, Elizabeth withheld a secret from her new husband: she had previously been in love with another man. This man was an army officer named Jack Courage, and though they had felt deeply for each other they had ended their relationship when Jack was placed overseas.
Not long after they were married, Sir Thomas informed Elizabeth that his son would soon be visiting, as he was returning home after his service in the military. The tale goes that when Sir Thomas opened the door to greet his son, Elizabeth was shocked to discover that he was none other than Jack Courage.
Somehow, Elizabeth managed to keep her composure, and whilst staying under the same roof she continued her love affair with Courage. That is, until Sir Thomas discovered the truth.
Sir Thomas was furious at the discovery, and began fighting violently with his son. Things grew even more heated and Elizabeth — who was witnessing the event — was killed at her husband’s hand. Filled with remorse, Thomas took his own life not long after and Courage fled.
But Courage didn’t miss an opportunity to make a profit. He rented out the home to tenants, but was soon met with complaints of strange noises and happenings in the night: shaking windows, falling objects and flickering torches… It is said that the grief-stricken spirit of Elizabeth Elphinstone still roamed the house, casting out anyone who dared try to call it their own.
There’s no doubt that the story of the Green Lady is a chilling one, but it also leaves you wanting more. Why does her spirit remain in the house, and what are the origins of the nickname ‘The Green Lady’? If you’re brave enough, you could ask her yourself at the Edinburgh Dungeon.
The Edinburgh Dungeon takes advantage of Edinburgh’s spookiest historical rumours and episodes, including that of the Green Lady. It’s one of many great attractions that the city of Edinburgh has to offer, proving what a fascinating and compelling city it is.
Want to get closer to all that Edinburgh has to offer? Why not take a tour of the luxury homes soon to be available at Craighouse, located in the lush greenery of Morningside for maximum convenience and privacy. Click here to discover more.