Theo Usherwood/PA Wire/AP
Clifton Hall, Nottinghamshire, England

Bank Takes over ‘Haunted’ Mansion Abandoned by Millionaire Family

September 24, 2008 09:48 AM
by Shannon Firth
A year after a wealthy family in Britain fled their estate—the allegedly haunted Clifton Hall—the bank reclaims their property.
Millionaire Anwar Rashid, 32, bought Clifton Hall, an estate in Nottinghamshire, England for £3.6 million ($6.84 million) in November 2006, then abandoned the property after only eight months. Rashid said that ghosts, voices and other paranormal activity drove his family from its home. Rashid is now seeking to avoid responsibility for the mortgage he took to purchase the home.

Rashid, who earned his millions from a chain of nursing homes and a hotel in Dubai, said the problems began the first day the family moved into the 52-room mansion, when they heard knocking on the walls and voices. Months later, the family’s maid saw “a grey figure” seated on her bed, and Rashid’s wife, Nabila, who had gone downstairs to feed their baby at 5 a.m., was surprised to see her oldest daughter watching TV. Rashid told the Daily Mail, “My wife realised something was up, so she went back upstairs to check on her and found her fast asleep in bed.”

At one point, Rashid called in experts from the Paranormal Investigations Network of Ashfield, but even they were frightened. Rashid said, “When we found red blood spots on the baby’s quilt, that was the day my wife said she’d had enough. We didn’t even stay that night,” he told the BBC. After Rashid stopped paying the mortgage, the Yorkshire Bank reclaimed the house.

Background: Clifton Hall

Rashid planned to use the mansion, which dates back to the Norman conquest, as a wedding hall but could not get a license, and skeptics claim he made up a story about ghosts to avoid financial responsibility for the house in light of his thwarted business plan. But Darren Brookes, the manager of a security firm that used to guard the mansion, supports Rashid’s claims. Brookes told the Daily Mail that many guards refused to be assigned to the home, and the guards who did work there returned with stories of “a monk walking through the grounds, a woman in the graveyard falling over, and chairs moving in one of the rooms.” The historic estate was briefly home to Charles I in 1632, and there are rumors that a “woman dressed in white” once jumped to her death from one of its windows.

Related Topics: Haunted and not so haunted houses; haunted New York

In October 2007 in China, the Chan brothers bought a five-story home at a great discount for $6,500, reduced from $34,000 after four different owners, spooked by eerie noises, fled. China Economic Review explains that, after some investigation, the two gumshoe brothers, hearing noises from a pipe, discovered that the “ghost sounds” haunting tenants the past 10 years were actually noises from catfish splashing around in the sewage system. The house is now worth $133,000.

Stateside, supernatural activity has been a longstanding concern at Summerseat Mansion in Morrisville, Pa., which dates to the Revolutionary War, during which George Washington and his soldiers camped at the estate. Years later, the mansion was the home to two signers of the Declaration of Independence, later served as a schoolhouse, and was eventually passed over to the historical society. Sharon Hughes, the society’s president, told Phillyburbs.com that the house isn’t haunted, but confessed, “you never quite feel alone in this place. It’s not a bad feeling, though.” Tina McGoldrick, an investigator for Distraught Entities Analysis Division (DEAD) of Philadelphia, believes the mansion is in fact “a very active house.” McGoldrick has captured audio recordings of snippets of conversation that she says occur at hearing levels above human range. One male voice on the recording said, “She’s on to us.”

New York City is teeming with reputedly haunted landmarks, including Washington Square Park, the Chelsea Hotel and Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And nearby Long Island is home to arguably the best-known haunt: the Amityville Horror house. To find out more, read findingDulcinea’s Web Guide to Haunted New York.

Opinion & Analysis: Selling stigmatized houses

Finance Web site The Street explains that homes considered “stigmatized properties” or “psychologically damaged,” where violent crimes have occurred, or spirits are believed to live, sometimes sell for much less than comparable properties without such a taint. Luxury homes in first-class environs may be less affected than more humble homes, though. Nicole Brown Simpson’s home in Brentwood, Calif., the site of her murder, sold for nearly $4 million, “close to its asking price,” whereas Scott and Lacy Peterson’s home, where Scott is said to have killed Lacy, has had a revolving cast of owners and has been discounted. Disclosure laws vary by state, and some real estate agents aren’t required to reveal a home’s less-than-palatable history. The Street’s John Morrel explains, “When checking out a home that looks like a bargain, don’t forget to ask about any potential bad history, just in case it slipped the agent’s mind.”

In 2003, CNN Money reported that James Larsen and Joseph Coleman, professors at Wright State University, discovered after studying about 100 “psychologically impacted” homes that such homes typically “take 50 percent longer than comparable homes to sell, and price at an average of 2.4 percent less.”

Reference: TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society)


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