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Fears Satanists could target historic house on banks of Loch Ness

By Louise Glen

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Boleskine House.
Boleskine House.

Plans for 10 holiday lodges on land near the former home of Aleister Crowley, the self-professed “wickedest man in the world”, have given rise to fears it could become a Satanist pilgrimage site.

Objectors to the development at Boleskine House, near Foyers, say they are worried for children and vulnerable adults in the area.

But trustees of the Boleskine House Foundation have vehemently denied the claims.

Keith Readdy, who purchased Boleskine House on the banks of Loch Ness with wife Kyra in July 2019 before placing the fire-damaged ancient mansion into the care of a charitable foundation, said it was explicitly against the charity’s constitution.

The planning application, lodged under the mansion house’s Gaelic name of Baile Os Ceann, includes a proposal to create 10 holiday “twin units” on the site with a reception area, storage and car parking as well as reinstatement and alterations to the main house and the installation of a sewage treatment plant.

Guided tours of parts of the main building and grounds are planned.

In an email leaked to the Inverness Courier from a complainer, Naomi King, she claims her comments on the council’s planning portal had been “sanitised” – with all references to Satanism removed.

She believes that if the development goes ahead “that place will become a major Satanic temple and a hub for Satanist abusers from across the world to visit”.

The Fresh Start Foundation, which bills itself as a Scottish not for profit group helping child sexual abuse victims and survivors, has also contacted the Courier to allege the foundation is a front for the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) – a Satanist organisation.

OTO is said to be the secret society that occultist Aleister Crowley led in the early 1900s.

A spokesman for the Fresh Start Foundation said: “The importation of Satanic ideas and Satanist adherents into the Highlands poses a threat to the local community, especially to children and vulnerable adults. This matter must not be ignored.”

Objections have prompted Boleskine House Foundation to issue a robust defence of its planning application.

It stated: “The charity has been formed to safeguard the future of the Boleskine House Estate so that it is secured for the local, national and international communities that value it as a place of historical significance.

“The Boleskine House Foundation’s ambition for Boleskine House is to conserve and to sympathetically rebuild the Category B Listed structure back to residential use, while also allowing limited guided tours of the impressive public rooms and external grounds. The purpose of the guided tours being to answer the present public interest in the fascinating history of the site as well as to promote the ethos of historic building conservation.

“The house’s previous proprietors (most notably, parliamentary diplomat Archibald Campbell Fraser of Lovat, mountaineer and esoteric author Aleister Crowley and rock and roll musician Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame) are all a part of the story of the place but they do not directly influence its future use.

“There is no intention for the house to become a place of pilgrimage or ritual, nefarious or otherwise.”

Mr Readdy, who published the book One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy, said he was a property developer with an academic interest in the history of the house.

He added: “It is strange that we are never accused of giving guitar lessons or recruiting people to fight in a Jacobite uprising, yet these unfounded allegations about Satanism continue to be made about our work.”

It is understood Highland councillors will discuss the plans next month.

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