As you walk across the countryside that surrounds Loch Ness, an eerie-looking building suddenly comes into view. While the exterior remains standing, it no longer has a roof or any windows. The property’s decaying shell alone is enough to send shivers down your spine. But what ghosts of the past dwell here? What sinister goings-on once happened within these now-crumbling walls? Take a tour through the caved-in passageways and dark history of a place that belonged to the likes of Jimmy Page and Aleister Crowley.
They say location is everything, and the derelict old house is set against a quietly ominous backdrop. Yes, it lies at the edge of Loch Ness – one of Scotland’s most legendary spots. Mind you, the lake’s fabled monster would be the least of your concerns if you were planning to venture into the property…
The site itself has been around for centuries, dating back in time to the 1200s. It’s incredibly old! Yet it didn’t host a residential property at first. The building there was instead utilized as a place of worship. During that period, the Roman Church wanted to spread its wings in Scotland.
As a result of this trend, the Boleskine parish was born, and alongside the main building a cemetery was added too. From there, Scottish clerics watched over the area for hundreds of years while they ran the day-to-day of the church. But it certainly wasn’t plain sailing for all of them.
It’s even been suggested that one minister in particular had to deal with a pretty unnerving issue. His name was Thomas Houston, and he looked after Boleskine during the 17th century. While Houston was there, rumors circulated that the bodies in the cemetery started to reanimate and climb out of their plots.
As per the Evening Standard’s Homes & Property webpage, Houston was tasked with putting those remains back into their resting places. So it wasn’t quite the zombie apocalypse! But why did this happen? What was the reported cause behind the mass reawakening in the Boleskine parish? Apparently, magic was to blame.
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. According to Homes & Property, a warlock from the nearby area was responsible for reanimating the bodies. We’re not sure if Houston was prepared for all that when he took on the job! In the end, the church was replaced by a manor in the early 1800s, with a fire supposedly destroying the place of worship.
Now known as Boleskine House, the building became a “hunting lodge” under its new proprietor. Archibald C Fraser was the man in question – and the property went on to stay with his clan up until the mid-1890s. After that, one of history’s most notorious figures got their hands on the land.
We’re referring to Aleister Crowley, who built up quite a reputation for himself. He bought Boleskine House in 1899 for around $2,600, which was roughly double its worth on the housing market. So what kind of a person was Crowley? And why was he surrounded by so much infamy?
Well, Crowley had an intriguing upbringing in England following his birth in 1875. His parents named him Edward at the time and raised the youngster as a Christian. His dad was actually a preacher with the “Plymouth Brethren” group. Money wasn’t a problem for the family, either, thanks to their ties to a brewing business.
So Crowley lived quite comfortably up until his dad’s passing in 1887. At that stage, his uncle Tom Bond Bishop started to look after him, which led to a significant shift. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Bishop was a particularly fierce guardian, despite appearing quite benevolent to the public.
Due to that, Crowley began to resent the Christian faith he’d been raised in as he moved into his teenage years. And things didn’t get better at school, either – he only studied at Malvern College and Tonbridge School for short spells during the early 1890s. The reason? The youngster said they were unsuitable for his changing viewpoints.
So what did Crowley do? In the end, he was welcomed into Cambridge’s Trinity College as a 20-year-old, where he studied natural sciences. But the biggest turning point in his life arguably occurred following a trip to Sweden in 1897. As per the U.K.’s National Trust website, the young man had a “vision.”
This vision apparently convinced Crowley that his future lay in the world of magic and spiritualism. So his first act was to take on a new name, eventually going with Aleister. Then, not only did he start to try his hand writing steamy poems, but he also developed a fascination with the occult. He was certainly busy!
In the winter of 1898, though, Crowley’s interest in the supernatural took another significant turn. At that stage, he signed up to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He was given a “magical name” there as well: Perdurabo. This apparently translates as “I will endure.”
During Crowley’s time with the group, he heard about a piece of magic that could conjure up a person’s “guardian angel.” Keeping that in mind, the occultist eyed the perfect spot to see if the incantation would actually work. Of course, we’re referring to Boleskine House. Maybe the stories of Thomas Houston and the warlock inspired him?
Anyway, Crowley practiced the “Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage” once he purchased the estate in Scotland. But there was just one problem. According to Homes & Property, this magical chant had a pretty big downside, dipping into the darker corners of the supernatural world. We hope that you don’t scare easily!
The website claims that Crowley called upon the “12 Kings and Dukes of Hell” while reading the incantation. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he didn’t have the time to complete the entirety of the complex chant at the house. That’s because Crowley had to go to Paris, France, in the middle of it all.
In turn, Crowley didn’t send the evil spirits back to hell before he left for France. And as a result of that, Homes & Property noted that spooky rumors have persisted about Boleskine House. The suggestion is that the 12 apparitions are still lurking inside the estate all these years later.
As for Crowley, he abandoned the property in 1913, but no one bought it for another five years. From there, the occultist continued to build an infamous reputation up until his passing in the late 1940s. To give you an idea of his standing back then, a publication dubbed him “the wickedest man in the world.” That’s quite a claim!
So what happened to Boleskine House after Crowley sold it? Well, the estate was bought up by a woman named Dorothy Priestly. She owned it until 1944, at which stage numerous parties showed their interest. The old building had plenty of proprietors over the next 20 or so years, ahead of a very surprising moment.
In 1971 rock superstar Jimmy Page purchased Boleskine House. By that point in time, his band Led Zeppelin had already released three albums, with the fourth coming out later that year. So he was very much on the road to becoming one of the industry’s most iconic figures. But what did Page want with the old Scottish estate?
Well, as per Homes & Property Page believed that the band could write some great songs at the house thanks to its “atmosphere.” And that’s not all – the legendary guitarist was also fascinated with Crowley’s past exploits. He already owned plenty of mementos connected to Crowley before buying the building near Loch Ness.
Once Page snapped up Boleskine House, he then made plans to revamp the interior with a clear image in his mind. Yes, the Led Zeppelin star wanted to evoke Crowley’s spirit inside his new home. Like we said, he had a keen interest in the guy! Yet here’s something to keep in mind.
Even though Page now owned the property, he wasn’t there very often. The guitar icon instead enlisted three different people to look after it when he was away. The trio were Malcolm Dent, Eric Hill and Barriston Colby. But it didn’t prove to be the easiest of tasks for Dent.
Why’s that? Well, when Dent was staying over at Boleskine House one evening, he was startled by a horrifying noise outside his room. According to Homes & Property, Page’s buddy later recalled, “[I heard a] huge beast snorting, snuffling and banging. Whatever was there, I have no doubt it was pure evil.”
Did Dent overhear one of the demons that Crowley had apparently summoned in the past? Or could there be a more logical explanation? Regardless of the truth, Page’s house-sitter was convinced that he’d encountered a supernatural being. Too bad the guitarist wasn’t there – he could’ve written a song about the experience!
But then the story took another turn. The property website reports that Dent started a money-making endeavor for himself at Boleskine House. To be precise, Page’s friend offered people the chance to stay in the building overnight – presumably to see if the rumors were real. And those individuals ended up paying a large wedge for the opportunity.
Here’s the issue, though. Page was said to be in the dark about this, including Dent’s intention to keep all of the cash. But the ruse was eventually rumbled by the media. On that note, you’ve probably got a burning question to ask: “What happened to the estate after that?”
Well, despite Page’s abiding interest in Crowley, he put the property up for sale in 1992, thus ending his 21-year stint as owner. The MacGillivray clan purchased the home at that point, before another family bought it from them a decade later. Their names are Gertruida Johanna Bakker and Teunis Griffioen.
Mind you, that didn’t signal an end to the drama. That’s because late in 2015 a mysterious fire broke out at the house, laying waste to its interior. Just like the old church! Four different fire brigades fought the flames, with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service later releasing a statement about the incident via BBC News.
“A large part of the property has already been destroyed by fire and crews are concentrating their efforts on the west wing of the building,” the statement read. “Crews in breathing apparatus are using four main jets to tackle the blaze and the incident is ongoing.” And close to three years later, the country’s fire service confirmed that the catalyst behind it was “unknown.”
It just adds to the mysterious vibe, right? Keeping that in mind, a YouTuber named Faeden decided to take a closer look at the remains in April 2019. Armed with a camera, he guides us through what’s left of the infamous property. And we have to admit that it’s pretty chilling!
The video begins as Faeden walks down a flight of stone steps, and we then see a room at the bottom. All that remains is a bit of debris and a lone filing cabinet. Next, the YouTuber brings us back up to the surface. At this point, we can clearly see the huge amount of damage that the fire did.
The roof is all but gone, while the floors are covered in even more debris. Then again, some parts of the old house are in slightly better shape. For instance, Faeden enters a room that doesn’t appear to have been burned out by the blaze. The adjoining bathroom seems okay, too!
But this isn’t just a random room. According to Faeden, this is the space where Crowley conducted his spell all those years ago. A coincidence? We’ll let you decide! Anyway, the man behind the camera provides us with some more shots of the interior, including a view of the charred ceiling along a corridor.
It’s a sad, albeit creepy, sight. We certainly wouldn’t want to stay there come nightfall. Yet a few months after that video was posted to YouTube, a second blaze broke out at the estate. Incredibly, a new buyer had been found ahead of time. And Mark Lidster, who was involved in the deal, alleged that the fire wasn’t an accident.
Lidster operates as a trustee for the property. “[This is a] huge blow,” he informed Scotland’s Sunday National newspaper. “It is particularly upsetting because when someone sets fire to something of national importance, it removes clues to how we could restore that building.”
Apparently, it would take in the region of $2 million to fix up the estate. But Lidster believed there was plenty of upside to spending the cash. “The local population and economy will thrive as it is not going to be restored and then kept private,” he added. “It will be restored for the public to visit.”
Lidster didn’t forget about the importance of the property’s checkered past, either. He admitted, “One of the reasons the building has a future is because of the historical figures associated with it, whether [it’s] a rock star or a Victorian occultist.” We get the feeling that both history buffs and fans of the supernatural will welcome that news!