Police in Great Britain reportedly discovered that a 17th century castle had been used as a massive cannabis growing operation.
The castle, located in the southern region of Somerset, is apparently owned by a “controversial British aristocrat” named Sir Benjamin Slade. Known as Woodlands Castle, it “is known locally as a high-end wedding venue and is situated just a few miles away from Slade’s other castle—an ancestral home that dates back to the 13th century,” according to the Canadian newspaper Regina Leader-Post.
The newspaper reported that Slade “has long been a provocative figure among British peers thanks to his massive firearms collection and provocative statements (especially regarding women and foreigners), having once placed an ad seeking a ‘castle-trained’ wife who would be a good ‘breeder.’”
He had apparently offered Woodlands Castle to the British government to serve as a medical site during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they Leader-Post says that “the proposal was evidently declined, and he ended up renting out the property instead,” and that authorities at this time think Slade was unaware of the illegal marijuana operation at the castle.
“Officials took multiple days to remove plants and cultivation equipment from the building, but have not shared whether any damage was incurred to the centuries-old property as a result of the grow,” the newspaper reported. “Trung Nam Pham, 39, was arrested and appeared in court last week on the charges. He will remain in custody pending a crown court hearing.”
In a statement, local cops said that a man “has been charged with production of controlled drug B,” and two other individuals were also arrested in connection with the operation.
Illicit Cannabis Cultivation Discoveries in the UK Aren’t Limited to the Castle
The bust calls to mind another similar discovery made by British authorities earlier this year.
In January, police in London discovered what they described as “a significant cannabis factory” in the heart of the city’s financial district. The police uncovered 826 plants at the so-called factory after an investigation was prompted by reports of “a strong smell of cannabis” in the area. London police said they believe the enormous operation was emboldened by the lack of activity due to shutdown measures imposed by the pandemic.
“This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity. However, this demonstrates that City of London Police continues to actively police the Square Mile, bearing down on any crime committed here,” said Andy Spooner, the London detective who conducted the investigation into the cannabis factory.
The bust came near the location of the Bank of England, which caught the attention of Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey.
“We are now going to be the subject of endless jokes about ‘now we know what the Bank of England has been on,’” Bailey said. “I’m sure there will be many other jokes. It is very quiet around the Bank of England, I should say.”
Stranger yet was the discovery in 2019, when London police found a large cannabis farm located beneath a 120-year-old Victorian theater.
Here’s how the authorities explained that one at the time, via a statement from a London police spokesperson: “On October 1, officers were called to an address following reports of a disturbance. They discovered a large number of cannabis plants along with equipment used in the cultivation of cannabis in an area beneath the residential properties. Three men, aged 28, 45, and 47, and a 36-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of the cultivation of cannabis. They have all been released under investigation.”
While finding illicit cannabis grow operations is a common occurrence, uncovering one that is housed in a historic castle is definitely out of the ordinary.