An unlucky mansion

Unlucky mansion in Yorkshire with 13 bedrooms for sale for a lower sum than it was marketed for in 2007 – despite having been renovated internally in the time since


Offered for sale for less than it was last marketed in a “dilapidated condition” in 2007, Whinburn Hall in the gritty West Yorkshire mill town of Keighley has now been largely restored internally but is still surrounded by neglected yet Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 protected grounds.


Described as a “fine country house… contrasting with the cramped rows of terraces in the streets behind them” according to Wikipeda, this Grade II listed Victorian Arts and Crafts mansion was built in 1897 for Prince Smith III (1869 – 1940), an exotically named gentleman who later renamed himself Prince Prince-Smith before becoming Sir Prince Prince-Smith on the death of his father in 1922.


Constructed from wealth generated by the Prince-Smith family’s textile machinery manufacturing business, Prince Smith & Son, the house was redesigned and extended in 1912 – 1913 and became a training centre for the National Institute of Houseworkers in 1940. Sold again in 1950 to the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, the “modern manor house” was run as a residential school and special referral unit until 2008 and then, after a period of dilapidation and the rejection of plans to turn Whinburn Hall into flats, was bought by a 35-year old businessman named James Sheldon in 2008.


An unlucky mansion – Whinburn Hall, Hollins Lane, Utley, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD20 6LU – On the market for £1.45 million in 2016; marketed in 2007 for £1.5 million (or the equivalent of £1.88 million today)
An unlucky mansion – James Sheldon purchased Whinburn Hall at the age of 35 and died there aged just 42


Sheldon, who worked as a lifeboat coxswain in Southport for 18 years, restored Whinburn Hall to use as a family home and also based his business Nav-comm, a specialist in the design of LED lighting systems for emergency vehicles, there.


In the years that followed, Mr Sheldon developed what he claimed to be a new form of “anti-terror security equipment” to detect explosives and drugs from 50 metres and took a stand at a trade show in London in 2013 to showcase this. It was later described as being like “an experiment a first year university student would have tried, but which failed” and in due course West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit placed Sheldon and his father, Anthony, under investigation.


Both were arrested on allegations of fraud and on 23rd June 2015, after two police officers visited Whinburn Hall to inform the duo that they were to be rebailed for three months, 42-year old James Sheldon tragically jumped to his death from the fourth floor tower of the hall. It later transpired he had been served with an eviction order due his non-payment of the mortgage on the house and faced debts of some £1.25 million ($1.62 million or €1.45 million).


The main property, which is now for sale through agents Dacre Son & Hartley for just £1.45 million ($1.87 million or €1.68 million), currently – rather unluckily, some might also argue – features 13 bedrooms and 7 reception rooms. It comes with a detached bungalow and a dilapidated gatehouse and stands in 7 acres of protected gardens that includes a folly designed by the renowned Lancastrian garden designer and landscape architect Thomas Mawson. Hopefully the next owner, aside from tackling this “overgrown jungle”, will also bring with them better luck.


This ‘baronial hall’ is used as a dining room and is dominated a truly tasteless purple ceiling
The purple theme continues in this gallery
And there’s more of it in this corridor
A drawing room complete with ‘classy’ DFS style furniture and a huge television set could be somewhat improved
A striking fireplace in another room is surrounded by some pretty hideously coloured leather sofas
A staircase with a resemblance to something from a fun fair
Another staircase is a little more traditional
One of thirteen bedrooms
The house is surrounded by 7 acres of overgrown grounds
A somewhat amateur attempt at creating a helipad is located close to the house
The entrance gates
The roof of the adjoining gatehouse is literally caving in



Subscribe to our free once daily email newsletter here:[wysija_form id=”2″]


View Comments

  • I lived at whinburn for about 3 years when it was a residential school, it was a wonderful place for a child to grow up, magical and mysterious. I believe it's unlucky as out of about 11 pupils that attended all but 3 have died, I do hope the next owner looks after this beautiful building as whinburn is and always will be a special place

    • Its really a weird place, did you ever go in or near the tower? I visited once and a gust of wind nearly pushed me to my death, luckily the chap behind me grabbed me. If it wasn't for him I would also have been the victim of the curse of that place.

  • This whinburn hall is haunted
    I have been to the school and
    There have been many incidents at night
    Objects moving screaming noises

  • I used to go to that school from 1966 to 1972 and used to enjoy playing in the grounds and in the orchard during break times, evenings, and weekends. Does anyone else remember being at the school around the same time?

    • I used to go to that school from January 1964,to July 1968, it was not haunted because I would have known, my surname was wightman before I was married.

  • Yes I agree with Michael
    The main house has
    Spirits living in it
    Come on the building has been built I. The 18th century

    Many come and gone in that place
    That's why til now it's still on the market

    • Erm... the building was built towards the end of the 19th century, it's between 120 & 130 years old - not that old really. Sheldon's is the only death that has occurred there.

  • What a load of shit it's not haunted it's just an old house with problems. I went to school there from 1973 till 1975. Nothing out of the ordinary happened

  • Basically right, When I went there, i was chased by a bloody ghost down in T dungeon! When I was down there right, the ghost touched me all t wrong way! It felt a bit wierd at first but I have to say it was quite enjoyable. Overall, yes, me and my mum will be moving in.

  • Between 1962 and 1968 I lived in the middle one of the three bungalows on Hollins Lane overlooked by Whinburn when it was a school. My friends and I were fascinated by the place and would go up the field and look through the wooden fence at the children playing at break time. A girl once came up and told us the teacher had said if we wanted to come into the playground we could. It is one of my childhood regrets that I was too scared and shy to take up the offer.

  • I have only fond memories of whinburn, probably the best memories of my childhood, I have even visited there as an adult with my family before it was sold on and was lucky enough to be able to show them around,

  • Stop with the scooby-doo guff! - over millennia people have died in every inch of the UK, doesn't make a place 'haunted, & Mr Sheldon's story is very sad but certainly wasn't caused by a house. The mansion's only issue is it's upkeep, which is a shame as it looks a lovely place especially after a loving refurbishment, despite the sniffy comments in the article.

  • This website uses cookies.