Huge £40million palace in Sussex left ‘abandoned’ 35 years after work began: ‘Ghost House’

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It was reported earlier this month that the largest stately home for 100 years, named St John’s House, is set to be built on a £20million plot of land. The huge project will be undertaken in the centre of Oxfordshire, in the Cotswolds village of Ramsden. The 60-acre space, where the home will be built, is currently private parkland. Once finished, St John’s House is expected to be worth more than £100million.

The UK is home to some truly magnificent properties, but another palace unrelated to St Johns sparked controversy in 2020.

Hamilton Palace, located in East Sussex, is bigger than Buckingham Palace and is worth £40million.

However, it is still lying empty and unfinished 35 years after work on the project began.

The mansion in Uckfield was constructed to house property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten’s art collection and to be his own mausoleum.

However, he reportedly fired a succession of architects and quantity surveyors and fell out with his builders.

The saga led to the palace being known as “The Ghost House of Sussex.”

Mr van Hoogstraten made his money as a landlord and his fortune was once estimated at £500million.

In a 2020 interview, Mr van Hoogstraten commented on the mansion.

He said: “I own nearly everything around here [in Sussex], 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.”

As the Sun reported at the time, locals were left furious with the ‘abandoned’ property.

One was quoted as saying: “With all the housing problems we have in this country, surely the building can be put to good use. It’s a disgrace that it’s just going to ruin.”

In response, Mr van Hoogstraten 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.”

The tycoon also addressed the suggestion that the mansion should be used for the homeless.

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.”

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Mr van Hoogstraten handed over many of his UK businesses to his children in 2002 after he was jailed for hiring a hitman to kill former business partner Mohammed Sabir Raja.

He was released on appeal and cleared at retrial.

However, in 2005, a High Court civil judge ruled Mr van Hoogstraten was on a balance of probabilities responsible for recruiting the hitman after Mr Raja’s family sued him for £6million.

Not many have been inside Hamilton Palace, but one reporter who did, in 2000, when it was said to be two years off completion, 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 Mr van Hoogstraten’s art collection.

Last year, Sussex Live sent a reporter to look around Hamilton Palace.

They were met with threatening signs, including some which said there was “shooting in progress” but that there were also “dogs running free”.

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