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Kellie’s Castle

A haunted Scottish castle in the Malaysian jungle

When construction of Kellie’s Castle began in 1910 it would certainly have been rather remote – lost among the jungle and plantations of central Malaya – although today it’s rather conveniently placed aside Highway 8, just outside Perak’s booming state capital Ipoh. Nonetheless, the site is now well-preserved, set among gardens and lawns and the ruins still ooze plenty of atmosphere.

The Malay Peninisula, Malaysia tour
Looking across the courtyard from the 1st floor

Kellie’s Castle, sometimes known as Kellie’s Folly, was originally constructed by a wealthy Scottish rubber plantation and tin mine owner as a suitable home for his family which he’d relocated to Malaya.

Legend has it that since Kellie’s initial commercial ventures in the Far East were a series of abject failures, he had become something of a subject of ridicule by the colonial community so when he eventually did strike rich with his rubber plantations, his deliberately ostentatious mansion was a firm middle finger to his fellow expats.

Agnes left and Kellie-Smith at a garden party at Kellie's Castle. (date not known.)
Agnes left and Kellie-Smith at a garden party at Kellie’s Castle. (date unknown.)

The ‘castle’ or mansion is a curious mixture of Gothic and colonial Moorish architectural styles and featured a four-storey main building with some 14 rooms, a rooftop tennis court and – as security was clearly an issue in those days – hidden, secret escape tunnels. Elevators were planned – the country’s first – although never completed, while annexe buildings included offices, workshops and staff quarters. (The substantial ruined structure across the courtyard from the main building is Kellas House – an earlier house built on the site.)

Kellie's Castle - looking across the courtyard to the main house
Kellie’s Castle – looking across the courtyard to the main house

Indeed the whole project was never completed as William Kellie-Smith died of pneumonia in 1926 on a trip to Portugal, whereupon his wife Agnes and children left the unfinished castle to return to Scotland.

The site was subsequently abandoned to nature and the jungle and, not surprisingly for such an unusual structure, superstitious locals added a layer of mystery with tales of ghosts and hauntings. The figure of Kellie-Smith himself as well as heartbroken wife Agnes have been reported walking the corridors, (although it has been pointed out that since he died in Lisbon, that’s a long way for his spirit to travel), while sounds of his daughter Helen playing in what was her bedroom have also been claimed.

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No sign of Agnes on the first floor corridor

We’ve never experienced any supernatural occurrences during any of our visits but the site is undeniably atmospheric with its empty corridors, secret tunnels, hidden stairways and the carefully restored and refurnished living room.

Kellie's Castle
In the living room with the lead piping

A visit to Kellie’s castle is included in our Malay Peninsula and Malaysia family Tour while further details and photos are available on this Malaysia Today site.