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Between Godalming and Haslemere, in Surrey, near the English village of Witley, once stood one of the most lavish private residences in the world —the Witley Park. Originally called Lea Park, it belonged to a man named Whitaker Wright who made his fortune by defrauding shareholders of hundreds of million pounds —not once, but twice in two different continents. At the peak of his financial crimes, Wright bought the vast 1,400-acre Victorian estate from the 15th Earl of Derby and built an extravagant 32-bedroom mansion, among other things like a racecourse, a theater and a private hospital.

The grounds also includes three interconnected artificial lakes. One of these lakes hides a secret —a secret that nobody is allowed to see today, but until a few years ago, one could go down a set of spiraling concrete steps, walk down a 400-feet long corridor and emerge inside a 30-foot tall glass-paneled domed room built directly beneath the lake’s surface. This is the famed underwater aquarium and smoking room, also called the ‘ballroom’ because of its shape, that Whitaker Wright built to entertain his guests.

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The ‘ballroom’ under the lake at Witley Park. Photo credit: Dan Raven/Flickr

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© Amusing Planet, 2016.


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