A huge mansion belonging to a disgraced tycoon is one of the UK’s strangest buildings – and it costs a whopping £40million.
The “Ghost House of Sussex” – more properly called Hamilton Palace – is sited off the A22 just south of Uckfield.
No-one has ever spent the night in the amazing £40million mansion, and despite a nationwide housing shortage it’s unlikely that anyone ever will.
The house was designed in 1985 for disgraced British tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten.
Work on the imposing structure began in 1985 but was blighted by delays and stalled completely after the the notoriously argumentative van Hoogstraten fell out with with architect Anthony Browne in 2000.
Browne said of van Hoogstraten at the time: “He saw himself as a cross between a medieval baron, a paternalistic slave-master and a concentration camp commandant.
”He had the sort of attitude you’d expect from someone running a concentration camp who ends up allowing certain people to escape the gas chambers over a period of time, in exchange for their slavery and obedience.”
Van Hoogstraten’s vast wealth has been estimated to be worth £500million, although he says his assets in the UK have all been placed in the names of his children.
Hamilton Palace itself is owned by a financial trust ensuring that the building would remain in the van Hoogstraten family forever.
It was built on the site of a nursing home that was destroyed in a mysterious fire.
Thirty-five years after the first brick was laid the incredible house remains unfinished although van Hoogstraten angrily dismissed claims that the grand design has been abandoned: “Even the most moronic of peasants would be able to see from the pictures that we have been busy landscaping the grounds of the Palace,” he said.
He added: “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.”
The tycoon, who was first jailed in 1968 over a conspiracy to throw a hand grenade into the home of a rabbi that owed him money, and has had several run-ins with the law since, rejected calls for the empty building to be used to house homeless people while it remained empty.
He said: “The ‘homeless’ – the majority of whom are so by their own volition or sheer laziness – are one of the filthiest burdens on the public purse today. The chance of my offering an opportunity for them to occupy Hamilton Palace is just ludicrous.”
Still the spooky mansion remains uninhabited. Drone footage shows a an eerie building, caged in scaffolding and choked by weeds, with abandoned construction equipment littering the site.
Some large items seem to have been deliberately placed to obstruct a public footpath that’s been the subject of a long-running dispute with the Ramblers’ Association.
Van Hoogstraten is now 75 and it seems unlikely that he will live to take possession of the incredible palace that was originally designed to house his collection of priceless artworks.
Larger than Buckingham Palace, it remains one of Britain’s largest, weirdest and ultimately saddest building sites.