IT was once the home of the self-styled “wickedest man in the world” who scandalised British society in the early 20th Century.
He is said to have carried out experiments with sex, drugs and the occult at the house, which was later bought by a rock guitar legend who was intrigued by its checkered history.
The current owners of Boleskine House, once owned by notorious occultist Aleister Crowley, hope to rebuild the gutted mansion after a fire devastated it last July by selling its charred remains.
The house, which overlooks Loch Ness, was bought by Keith and Kyra Readdy last summer and two days later it went up in flames; they had no insurance.
It was built in 1760 as a home for members of the Fraser family, the inspiration for time-travelling saga, Outlander.
The building is said to lie on the site of a 13th-Century church that was destroyed with its congregation locked inside. Crowley bought it from a descendant of the Fraser clan in 1899.
After a fire ripped through the remains of the mansion last July – the second blaze to gut the property after a 2015 fire – the Readdys are hoping to raise enough money to continue with renovations to the pile they hope will one day be open to the public and operated as a guest house and spiritual retreat.
The new owners have established a charitable trust, the Boleskine House Foundation, and are selling salvaged stones and bags of remains to help towards the cost of renovations they estimate at around £700,000.
The £49 eBay lot description states: “You are purchasing one original stone of up to 400g and one bag of charred remains from the fire on 31 July, 2019, from Boleskine House.”
The package comes with a certificate of authenticity, with the promise that all proceeds will be used for the restoration of Boleskine House.
A crowdfunding campaign was started last year and has so far generated more than £22,500 of the £220,000 target for donations.
The couple hope fans of the TV phenomenon penned by Diane Gabaldon and starring Scottish actor Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser will stump up cash to help with the rebuild.
Led Zeppelin founder and guitarist Jimmy Page bought the “most notorious home in the Highlands” in the 1970s and owned it for around 20 years. He was said to have followed in Crowley’s footsteps by practicing black magic on the estate.
Crowley bought the B-listed Georgian building when he was just 25 and lived there until 1913. He boasted to have turned the property into “a centre of black magic, evil and sorcery”.
He conducted black magic rituals and offered animal sacrifices to satan and was said to have taken pleasure in the suffering of local people. One episode involved an employee of the estate getting drunk, after 20 years’ abstinence, and attempting to kill his wife and children. His lodge keeper suffered the loss of a 10-year-old daughter, while a year later his 15-month-old son died.
Ill-fortune seemed to continue to haunt Boleskine even after Crowley’s departure. It was reported in 1960 the then owner, Major Edward Grant, shot himself in the room Crowley once used for his satanic rituals.
However, Page, who bought the property in 1970, said in a 1975 interview: “Strange things have happened in that house which have nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there.”
The rock legend claimed that the head of an executed man, thought to be Lord Lovat who fought with the English during the 1745 uprising, could be heard rolling around the floor. The house also featured in the Led Zeppelin documentary, The Song Remains The Same.
Page’s childhood friend, Malcolm Dent, worked as the caretaker for Boleskine before the musician sold up in the 1990s after rarely staying there.
He once claimed that “curious” events occurred at the house, saying: “Doors would be slamming all night. You’d go into a room and carpets and rugs would be piled up.”
The property was sold to Annette MacGillivray and her husband who lived there happily for 10 years before it was acquired in 2002 by Dutch owners.
Mrs Readdy told reporters in July that people were calling for the house to be razed, saying it was “a den of iniquity”.
“We have read so many lurid details,” she said. “It is an architecturally significant building no matter who has owned it. Boleskine has such a big draw, whether people are fans of Crowley or rock ’n’ roll.
“The Boleskine estate is a treasure of heritage and history that must be secured for future generations. I believe it can stand as a landmark for culture, research and well-being that all can benefit from.”