Grand, yet “abandoned”, bigger in size than Buckingham Palace, and possibly haunted…
This palace may sound like a thing of dreams – or nightmares – but it actually exists, and can be seen just over an hour’s drive from London.
Take note – emphasis is on the ‘seen’ – this building is quite clearly not to be entered.
A foreboding gate bears the sign “High Cross Estate, Private Property, Keep Out”, and other scary signs warn visitors of “shooting in progress” and “dogs running free.”
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(Image: Adam Gerrard/Daily Mirror)
Despite its size, passing drivers could be forgiven for missing this strange, empty mansion, which neighbours a main road but is completely obscured by a thickly wooded area.
Those who go looking for it, however, can find Hamilton Palace hidden away off of an unassuming junction on the A22 south of Uckfield in East Sussex.
Shrouded in scaffolding and overgrowing foliage, perhaps the creepiest thing about the so-called “Ghost House of Sussex,” is that nobody ever lived in it, reports SussexLive.
The domed roof of the main building is visible from the nearest set of houses in the hamlet of Palehouse Common – but get up close and you will see the rest of Hamilton Palace is just a shell.
The extraordinary palace was the £40million brainchild of notorious multi-millionaire property mogul Nicholas van Hoogstraten, who now goes by the name Nicholas von Hessen.
(Image: Martin Burton/SussexLive)
In 1967, he became Britain’s youngest millionaire aged 22 and has continued to hit the headlines since this date.
One of Sussex’s wealthiest residents to date, 76-year-old von Hessen’s fortune – which he built through property, mines, art, farms, shares and money-lending – has been placed as high as £800 million.
(Image: Martin Burton/SussexLive)
In 2020 von Hessen, who runs his business empire from the Courtlands Hotel in Hove, was quoted as saying: “I own nearly everything around here.
“And by own it, I mean own it — there’s no mortgage on anything. It’s one of the reasons why nobody can tell me what to do.
“I don’t have to be nice to anybody”.
Out of all his properties, Hamilton Palace was said to be the most expensive private house built in Britain for a century, and would have easily become von Hessen’s most lavish display of wealth – had it ever been finished.
Although work began on the palace in 1985, over 35 years later it remains a half-finished shell, and with no construction work in progress seems like it might never be liveable.
It’s easy to see what might have distracted von Hessen from work on the construction of the building, which is also what garnered the dwelling its other name: “devil’s palace.”
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Von Hessen was convicted and jailed for manslaughter in 2002, after a business rival was murdered by two assassins on his doorstep in Sutton, Surrey (he was shot and stabbed in the chest five times).
The conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in July 2003 and he was freed five months later.
However, von Hessen has admitted to being prepared to do “whatever is necessary” to get what he wants and has said on camera: “I think I’ve gone on public record in the past saying I’d have had his bollocks chopped off.”
Over the past 20 years, High Cross estate has reportedly been the subject of many fierce debates with neighbours who were unhappy with the large area being left “abandoned”, and with von Hessen trying to privatise a public footpath through the grounds.
But von Hessen was adamant that work at the estate was ongoing: “Even the most moronic of peasants would be able to see… that we have been busy landscaping the grounds of the palace so as to prepare for scheduled works”.
He also denied the house was falling apart – he said: “Hamilton Palace is far from ‘crumbling’ and was built to last for at least 2,000 years.
“The scaffolding only remains as a part of ongoing routine maintenance such a property would require until completion.”
One of the few people who have ever seen inside the mansion, a lucky reporter in 2000, described a grand central staircase and reception hall, with lift shafts already installed and expensive stone balustrades and pillars.
Low-level lighting had been installed on the roof, where there was to be a garden, and there was space for a fountain below.
One entire floor was due to house van Hoogstraten’s art collection, and there is even famously a mausoleum on the grounds.
It is thought the estate is now owned by his children through the company Messina Investments.
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