THE onetime home of black witch Aleister Crowley – the self-confessed “most evil man in Britain” – has been virtually destroyed by a fire which ripped through the 18th-century Loch Ness-side mansion.
The blaze at Boleskine House was spotted around 1:40pm yesterday by a motorist on the A82 Inverness to Fort William road, which runs along the north side of the loch.
Within just two hours the flames had claimed 60 per cent of the building, which has also been owned by Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page.
More than 30 fire crew, some of them wearing breathing apparatus, used six water jets in their attempt to dowse the blaze. No one was in the house at the time.
Police closed the B852 road between Dores and Foyers as smoke caused visibility problems for motorists as well as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Annette MacGillivray bought the house from Page and sold it a few years ago to a Dutch couple, who use it as a holiday home. It is believed it was due to go on the market.
Mrs MacGillivray, who now lives in North Berwick, said: “When we bought it, it was a hovel. Just a shell and we paid too much for it.
“We spent a lot of money, stripping it back to the bare walls and re-roofing it. It had four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a huge drawing room, dining room, library and various smaller rooms.
“It is unlikely it will ever be rebuilt unless there is someone out there with an interest in the occult wanting to spend a lot of money.”
Asked if she had experienced any “strange” occurances, Mrs MacGillivray replied: “Not one. Absolutely none. I am a non-believer and didn’t listen to all that rubbish. We had a great time there, and my late husband and I had wonderful parties.
“It is so sad as we put a lot of our life into that house.”
Local legend has it that the house was built on the site of a church which was burned down, killing the entire congregation who were attending Mass.
Originally named Boleskine Lodge, it was built as a hunting lodge in the late 18th century by the Hon. Archibald Fraser, who was related to Lieutenant General Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat.
The house was built on land acquired from the Church on a site that was reputedly chosen to annoy Lord Lovat, whose estate surrounded the property. The Frasers retained the house until the late 19th century and its notoriety stems from Crowley, “the Beast of Boleskine”, who bought it in 1899. He was a self-proclaimed magician and the press of the day reported accounts of black magic, devil worship and human sacrifice, calling him “the wickedest man in the world”.
Unexplained and unconfirmed stories of the time include those of a local butcher cutting off his own hand with a cleaver after reading a note from Crowley written on a piece of paper with a spell on the reverse. There are rumours of a tunnel from the cellars of the house to the burial ground which lies below the house by the loch side.
In 1971, the house was bought by Page, who was influenced by Crowley’s ideas.
In a 1975 interview, Page said: “Strange things have happened in that house which have nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there.”