LAST week's fire at the Loch Ness retreat of the man once dubbed “the wickedest man in the world" has once again sparked fevered speculation at the so-called ‘curse of Crowley’.

Boleskine House was once owned by occultist Aleister Crowley and was later bought by guitarist Jimmy Page whose band, Led Zeppelin, were hit by a series of tragedies, reportedly after taking part in a Crowley inspired ritual.

The house, which previously suffered a major fire in 2015, has just been acquired by London-based lawyer Kyra Readdy and property developer Keith Readdy, who have now set up a foundation to oversee its restoration.

Trustee Mark Lidster told the Sunday National that the restoration of the B-listed building would still go ahead although the fire was a “huge blow”.

“It is particularly upsetting because when someone sets fire to something of national importance it removes clues to how we could restore that building,” he said, adding that Boleskine had been impossible to insure because of the previous blaze.

The sale was concluded only a few days before the fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately. Lidster said it appeared to be “a malicious attempt to upset the apple cart”.

The cost of restoring the house is estimated to be £1.5m and Lidster said the money would be raised through private investment and crowdfunding. It is also hoped grants will also be available because of Boleskine’s historical importance.

“It’s not a glorious castle but it is a beautifully proportioned Georgian hunting lodge and there are plans to encourage members of the public to come for holidays and recreation,” said Lidster. “The local population and economy will thrive as it is not going to be restored and then kept private. It will be restored for the public to visit.”

There is existing outline planning permission for camping and holiday lodges on the estate and he said a viability study had proved there is “wealth generating potential for the area”.

“One of the reasons the building has a future is because of the historical figures associated with it, whether a rock star or a Victorian occultist,” said Lidster.

However while Crowley made Boleskine internationally known, its sinister history dates back to long before he bought it in the late 19th century.

It was built in the 1760s at the site of a former church said to have caught fire during a service, killing the entire congregation.

Boleskine was bought by Crowley in 1899 as he thought it the perfect place to conduct rituals. These apparently required six months of preparation as well as celibacy and abstinence and – as someone with a reputation for drug taking and sexual profligacy – this may have proved too difficult for Crowley and he left for Paris before completing the spells.

The story grew that he left behind the demons he had conjured up, leading to a series of tragedies including the deaths of his lodge keeper’s two children.

Crowley was later reported as saying his experiments had gone awry.

It was also said that while staying at the house he had masturbated over the oldest parts of the graveyard as an offering of sacrifice and locals claimed he threw a sacrificial sheep into the loch every Sunday for his “pet” Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.

A few years later Crowley sold the house which passed through various owners in the next few decades, including those of a Major Edward Grant who died in 1965 after shooting himself in the occultist’s former bedroom.

The house was then bought by a married couple whose marriage broke up shortly afterwards.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page snapped it up in 1970 believing it would provide inspiration for his song writing.

He was just one of the rock stars of the era influenced by Crowley, whose views on sex and drugs appealed to those kicking against the strictures of previous generations.

Crowley is one of the figures on the album cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and David Bowie referenced him in his 1971 song Quicksand.

PAGE’s interest ran a lot deeper.

A bookshop he financed called Equinox was named after a Crowley book and contained a number of rare and very expensive books on the occult.

Page collected Crowley memorabilia and he asked the other members of Led Zeppelin to join him in a ritual based on the occultist’s writings to propel the band to greater success.

All but John Paul Jones took part.

The band’s albums started to reference Crowley and in 1972 Page wrote the soundtrack for Lucifer Rising, a film by Kenneth Anger, another ritual magic practitioner.

The pair fell out later and Anger reportedly cursed both Page and the band.

Shortly after, Robert Plant and his family nearly died when their car crashed in Greece. The crash resulted in the cancellation of the band’s Physical Graffiti tour and delaying the release of the band's next album.

The following tour was dogged by bad luck with Plant suffering laryngitis, fans rioting and band members fighting.

In 1977, Plant’s son Karac died and this was followed by the death of John Bonham in 1980 and the end of Led Zeppelin.

Meanwhile Boleskine had been left in the care of Page’s friend, Malcolm Dent, who claimed he had experienced weird phenomena from the moment he moved in.

Doors slammed shut and opened mysteriously, furniture moved around, while rugs and carpets apparently rolled up on their own accord. Dent frequently heard odd rumblings at night but suffered what he said was the most terrifying night of his life when he was wakened by the noises of a wild animal outside his bedroom door.

He said afterwards: “Whatever was there was pure evil”.

Boleskine went back on the market in 1991 and was sold for £250,000 to Annette and Ronald MacGillivray who turned it into a hotel and dismissed any talk of mysterious goings-on.

It was converted back into private ownership this century but suffered serious damage in the 2015 fire.

Annette MacGillivray later commented that the destruction was so severe it was “unlikely ever to be rebuilt unless there is someone out there with an interest in the occult wanting to spend a lot of money”.

It was bought by the Foundation after being put up for sale with a price tag upwards of £500,000 which included 22.9 acres of land.

Police Scotland has appealed for any witnesses to the blaze last Wednesday. A spokesperson said it appeared to have been started deliberately.