Abandoned Sussex: Racton Ruin


Racton Ruin, also known as Racton Monument towers over a hill in the West Sussex countryside. The towering folly was built between 1766 and 1775 and commissioned by the 2nd Earl of Halifax, George Montagu-Dunk. With commanding views of the Solent and the Port of Emsworth, it is believed Montagu-Dunk built the grand structure so he could watch his merchant ships dock. He may have also hosted banquets in the lower levels. This partying tradition has continued to this day, with raves taking place at the abandoned site in recent years. There are also rumours that the building was used by smugglers in the past, as well as being a brothel in the 19th century.

Since 1987 the property has been privately owned by architect Mark Talbot. In 1991 planning permission was granted to convert the folly into a private dwelling, including “replacing the missing elements, both structural and decorative, and to refurbish the building as far as practical to match the original design.” However work on this project never started, and the planning consent expired in 2013.

Talbot reapplied for planning permission in 2020, but this was refused on the ground that the conversion was “‘unsympathetic form of development’, due to the intended scale, design and appearance.”

Today this impressive building with a mysterious past is left crumbling, battered by the wind and rain atop the hill. Alongside the raves, ghost hunters have also visited the site, with stories of a woman seen falling from the building, ghostly faces in upper windows and bricks flying from above (though I would argue that there are less paranormal explanations for the latter ghostly activity!)

Alongside the legends of ghosts, brothel activity and smugglers, this unique ruin completes its long list of mysterious goings-on with rumours of devil worshipers using the site. We saw no evidence of ghosts or occult activities during our rainy visit to the 24m high tower, but we did find plenty of graffiti, and it made for an interesting explore in the countryside.

Last Updated on 9 May 2023 by Michael


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