Built in 1877 by William Burges, a well-known Victorian architect, as a home for himself, The Tower House English mansion in Kensington, London, had several owners before it was occupied by Irish actor Richard Harris for several years.
Burges, an opium addict, died there in April of 1881 at the age of 53, after catching a chill from an extended spring ride in a dog cart.
Colonel T H Minshall, DSO, a well known newspaper and magazine magnate, and also the father of Merlin Minshall, the man Ian Fleming modeled his James Bond character after, lived in The Tower House in the 1920s.
Harris always claimed that he was meant to own The Tower House, since he had awakened on the lawn of the home early one morning when he was 24 years of age. He purchased the mansion nearly a decade and a half later.
Harris enjoyed telling the story of his home being haunted by the spirit of a small boy who had been buried in the tower at some point.
He said that before he moved into his home, he hired a professional burglar to break into his home…to see how “burglar-proof” it was.
Although the burglar knew the house was unoccupied and empty, upon entering he heard the sound of a child crying desperately in an upstairs room. As he located the room and prepared to open the door, the weeping abruptly ceased.
After the burglar told of his experience to Harris, the Irish actor conducted some research, and determined that an eight-year-old boy had been buried in the tower of the mansion.
Harris formed a relationship with the spirit of the child, and often had to chide him for awakening him in the middle of the night. The spirit would slam doors and run up and down the stairs to the tower. Harris explained to the boy that he was an actor and needed his sleep. He also threatened to have him exorcised if he didn’t quiet down.
Boys will be boys though, evidently in spirit form as well, and the young boy continued to awaken Harris until he built a nursery at the top of the stairs to the tower, and filled it with toys and games.
Harris not only entertained at his Hollywood parties by regaling tales of the child’s ghost in The Tower House, but he also enlisted the ghost to entertain as well by performing tricks for the guests.
Harris once remarked that he regretted having to travel while making films as “it kept him away too long from his home.” He also said that he needed to “make buckets of money just to support my haunted house and its noisy little ghost.”
Currently, The Tower House is owned by Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin. He purchased the house in the mid-seventies, outbidding David Bowie.
Steiger, Brad. Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2003.