1. How did we get here?
Our story begins in December 2015, when Boleskine House was destroyed by fire during the previous ownership. Boleskine was then a private holiday retreat to a wealthy couple from the Netherlands. The cause of the fire remains a mystery, but it is presumed to have been triggered by an electrical fault while one of the owners was in Inverness shopping over the Christmas season—or that is how the story goes. The fire ravaged the house for nearly two days. By the time the fire was stopped by the local fire brigade, more than 70% of the house was destroyed and rendered uninhabitable.
Boleskine House sat as a ruin for 3 ½ years, becoming a derelict site for anti-social visits by people wanting a thrill going up to the spooky haunted house on the hill. By odd coincidence the land came up for sale in 2019 just as future chairman of The Boleskine House Foundation was passing through the Highlands on a holiday.
Having migrated from America to England to marry his wife Kyra in 2017, Keith studied the history of Western esotericism, mysticism, and alternative religious movements at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands between 2013 and 2015, and so he was already familiar with Aleister Crowley and Boleskine House. He moved to the UK and began property development in the south of London. He and his wife shared a mutual love for built heritage and historic sites. So the opportunity to restore a historic site lined up with his academic and intellectual interests. But this was only the beginning. The sale of the property prompted a great deal of public interest, and only 5 days after completing the purchase, the house fell victim to an arson attack in July 2019. Although the local police had a suspect at the time, evidence fell short and no one was ever charged.
But it did stop them from pursuing what was and still is a great vision. What if Boleskine House could become one of those wonderful historic sites of importance that could somehow benefit others? It took a lot of deliberation and thought, but soon after The Boleskine House Foundation was registered as a charity with the Scottish government. After finding a handful of other enthusiasts, a formal constitution with charitable objectives was established, most of all with the aim of restoring and preserving the house. The charity is now going on 4 years of hard work, enduring through an unprecedented global pandemic and well on our way to seeing the external shell completed.