Criminals creepy £40m mansion bigger than Buckingham Palace left to rot

A criminal's £40m mansion known as the "ghost of Sussex" has been left to rot in the English countryside for two decades.

Hamilton Palace is one of the biggest country homes in the country and is larger than Buckingham Palace, complete with its own mausoleum on a lake.

But building work on the stately home was never finished and the incomplete building is now surrounded by signs warning passers-by to keep out.

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Construction on the house began in 1985 when former property tycoon and convicted criminal Nicholas Van Hoogstraten decided he needed somewhere to house his art collection.

Nearly 40 years later, however, it seems nobody lives in the house, which is now surrounded by trees and scaffolding and shrouded in mystery.

One local resident told The Mirror: "As far as I know nothing has changed.

"It’s difficult to see what work has or hasn’t been done as there are a number of threatening keep out and private signs dotted around the property."

Five years after construction began, 77-year-old Van Hoogstraten created a rift between himself and locals after he used razor wires and old refrigerators to block off public pathways surrounding the property.

Since then a battle has raged on between the crook and locals – in 2016 nearby residents called for parts of the vast structure to be used as accommodation for the homeless, something Van Hoogstraten said was "ridiculous".

His statement 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."

The ex-convict even called locals "peasants" after some called for the property near Uckfield to be torn down.

He said: "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 so as to prepare for scheduled works.

"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," he added.

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Sussex native Van Hoogstraten rose to infamy as a slum landlord who rented out poor-quality homes to desperate people.

He began his career building properties in the Bahamas but became a household name in 2002 when he was jailed for 10 years for the gruesome organised killing of his business rival Mohammed Raja.

Raja was stabbed five times and shot in the head at his South London home in 1999.

Van Hoogstraten's conviction of manslaughter was later overturned but the dodgy tycoon, worth upwards of £500m, was ordered to pay the victim's family £6m – of which he claimed they would "never get a penny".

In 2016 another High Court judge ordered him to pay £1.5million in legal costs to the family, which has also not been paid, according to reports.

Van Hoogstraten claims to have "no assets at all now in the UK", claiming his empire has been broken up and given to his five children – meaning he now can't pay the damages.

However in a recent interview in 2020, he said of his estate: "I own nearly everything around here [in Sussex], and by own it, I mean own it ‒ there's no mortgage on anything."

It is believed Hamilton Palace is now owned by his four oldest children through the company Messina Investments, which he was director of until 2002.

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