Update on Boleskine House arson

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INVERNESS, Scotland – We reported in July on Boleskine House in Scotland, formerly owned by Aleister Crowley and recently purchased for renovation by a trust. Since then, Boleskine has been in the news again: with reports of another fire breaking out at the property.

The house – also formerly owned by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page – passed into a series of private hands and was badly damaged by fire in 2015. No one was in the house at the time, and the fire seems to have started in the kitchen.

In April 2019, the ruined property was put on the market once more. As we reported in July, initial rumours throughout the occult community were that the current main incarnation of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) had bought it, but although the OTO are said to be highly supportive of this most recent development, Boleskine was bought by private individuals: Kyra and Keith Readdy, who bought Lots 1 and 3, and William Clifford-Banks, who bought Lot 2, and who are on the board of trustees belonging to the Boleskine House Foundation, described as a “not-for-profit group aimed at restoring and maintaining the Boleskine House estate.”

The Foundation website states that:

“The Boleskine property was placed on the market in April 2019 as four different parcels of land. All four parcels have now been purchased by private owners. The three most significant lots (Lots 1, 2 and 3) have been acquired by the individuals running this website. … The Boleskine House Foundation is only concerned with Lot 1 which contains the main listed house and which is the subject of this website. The other lots remain in private ownership. The owner of Lot 4 is not associated with us.”

In August, a founding member of the Foundation purchased the Gate Lodge, which is also undergoing renovation and is planned to be a holiday let or lease. The Foundation will be making an announcement in the coming weeks of rental availability for later this year.

Gate Lodge – Image credit: The Boleskine House Foundation

 

Readdy has said on the website that:

“When it comes to heritage property I feel that we are guardians for future generations. It is my privilege and honor to work on this project and to be able to secure the future of the house.”

Clifford-Banks said,“I would like to dispel the negative rumours about Aleister Crowley and restore the estate as a space to host well-being and mindfulness events such as yoga and meditation retreats, and provide a place for lectures, conferences, and even ceremonies.”

The pagan and occult community in the UK in the main has welcomed this development, as Boleskine is regarded as an important part of British occult history due to its association with Crowley. However, since then, the building has once more been damaged by fire.

This started on the afternoon of the 31st July in two places on the property: inside the derelict house itself, which has sustained further considerable damage, and inside the coach house. The latter has been saved, but what remained of the roof of the main house caved in.

Detective Inspector Eddie Ross confirmed that police are investigating and has said that “We are working with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to establish the full circumstances. Our inquiries are at an early stage, although our initial assessment is that this fire was started deliberately. We would encourage anybody may have seen any activity around Boleskine House or nearby to come forward as soon as they can. It should go without saying that deliberately setting fires is incredibly dangerous as you have limited control over how they may develop.”

Since this initial statement, the police have apparently made two arrests in connection with the incident, on suspicion of arson. No other details on the arrests have been made available to the public.

A statement on the Boleskine House Foundation Facebook page said:

“It is with great sadness that we report that the remainder of the building’s interior has now been destroyed, and along with it important historical clues to the features of this important piece of Scottish heritage. We would like to thank the firefighters who put their lives at risk to save what is left of the building.”

However, the Foundation has stated that they will not speculate regarding any possible motivation behind the recent arson attack. They also state that renovations will be going ahead.

A cleanup operation started in mid August and there has been a comment on the Foundation’s Facebook page to the effect that there is a full time security team covering the property, plus motion sensors and CCTV. The Foundation will be releasing a video of the cleanup soon: they estimate that they have cleared around 35 tonnes of rubble, and also estimated that the cost of clearing the burned material in each room is around £1K, even with volunteer labor.

The Foundation intends to have the property fully restored and placed in the hands of a charity, to ensure it can be used by future generations. No single religious group will be given priority over its use, as it is intended that Boleskine should be open to all.

“It is the intention of the owners of Boleskine House and the volunteers of the Boleskine House Foundation to restore the house to its historical integrity. Boleskine House is a ‘B Listed’ property, which means that there are restrictions to ensure that this is done. However, the only records that exist hold descriptions of the house’s exterior features. While there seems to be some flexibility on how its interior is restored, we will be working closely with conservation accredited architects and interior designers to be favourable to how the house might display its original Georgian and Jacobean features.”

The Foundation is also relying on the GoFundMe campaign, as Boleskine was uninsured due to the previous fire.