Members of 'Occupy Bristol' are now squatting in a £3million house in Clifton. More precisely, 14 members of the group have moved their protest into a Grade II-listed and beautiful eight-bedroom mansion, the Clifton Wood House, an early 18th-century property complete with gym, vaulted cellar, an indoor heated swimming pool, four bathrooms, a playroom, mezzanine and more than one acre of land, which made this the most expensive home for sale in Bristol until 2009, when it was worth £4,5m.
The 'occupiers' refuse to say how they gained access to the property a week ago but they insist they have not broken the law, as entry to the empty mansion had not been forced and there is no apparent criminal damage.
The 14 new "residents" have their own set of keys and the codes to the front gates, as both were left on a counter in the empty house.
Haile Blessed, one of the members, said:
“I won’t say we want to stay as long as possible because that then makes it into a game. Ultimately we want to stay for forever. Once I put up my pictures I don’t take them down. I think the police have the owner’s number but they don’t seem to care. The estate agents know we’re here too but they’re not doing anything about it, we’re the legal caretakers.”
Another squatter, Mat, said:
“It’s try before you buy isn’t it? We live in a generation where everything is try before you buy, that’s what we’re doing. We’re prospective buyers!”
The mansion is still connected to both water and electricity but the estate agent Knight Frank has turned off the gas since they arrived but a spokesperson for Knight Frank refused to comment on the situation.
Clifton Wood House was built in the 1720s and in 1747 the property was bought by the Goldney family, famous Bristol merchants. The Grade II-listed mansion stayed in the family’s estate for more than 200 years and was rented out to a number of other wealthy merchants, being also used as a children's home for part of the 19th century. The mansion was then taken over by Bristol University in the 1950s and used as university halls of residence for around 50 years. In 2002, Bristol Uni sold the property for £1.25 million to local businessman Petros Birakos, who converted the mansion into a family property.
Mr Birakos recently tried to sell the mansion through Knight Frank estate agency for £2.9 million and apparently the property has now been taken off the market.
This is not the first time that Mr Birakos' family experience invasions in their properties. In 2009, another £3 million property owned by his son Jason was also occupied by around 40 squatters.
*Photo from www.bristol247.com