The Earl of Haddington, authority on the paranormal dies
The 13th Earl of Haddington, who has died aged 74, was a landowner, conservationist, photographer and explorer of the paranormal.
Among his recreations he listed beekeeping, keeping finches and “cerealogy”, by which he meant an expert knowledge of crop circles. Yet this was only the tip of the iceberg.
His healing powers, assisted by the use of rock crystal, gave him a Merlin-like presence in the House. Many swore by his treatment, which he dispensed on request, at exhausting physical cost, to peers, peeresses and staff alike. When Andrew Festing painted his official group portrait of the Lords debating the 1995 Queen’s Speech, his friend Haddington jovially agreed to pose for the joke figure of “the slumbering Earl” on the government side.
John George Baillie-Hamilton was born at Mellerstain on December 21 1941. His father, a Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire and distinguished veteran of both World Wars, was a noted horseman and forester. His mother was the Catholic Sarah Cook, who played an important part in the formation of the Edinburgh Festival. His sister, Lady Mary Russell, was a maid of honour at the Coronation.
Haddington’s marked transcendentalism first showed itself when he was two. He was terrorised by the ghost of a German pilot killed in a bomber-aircraft crash on the Mellerstain estate. His silence caused adult concern but he dared not betray its cause.
After university he hitch-hiked the world, exercising his talent for photography, which he exploited professionally in London on his return. An inspired assignment, commissioned by Sir Jocelyn Stevens, was to instil some of the magic and mystery of Stonehenge into English Heritage’s guidebook.
His interest in the paranormal alerted him early to the corn circle phenomenon. He was a sponsor of The Cerealogist magazine, initially edited by his friend John Michell, the radical-traditionalist author and antiquarian; and he could tell at a glance whether a circle was paranormally genuine or trodden by hoaxers.
His son, George Edmund Baldred, succeeds him as 14th Earl. Haddington married first, in 1975, Prudence Hayles (dissolved 1977); and, secondly, in 1984, Jane Heyworth, who survives him with their son and two daughters.
The 13th Earl of Haddington, born December 21 1941, died July 5 2016