Police find cannabis farm at gun-loving peer Sir Benjamin Slade’s castle
Police have discovered a huge cannabis farm in an aristocrat’s castle, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Officers spent two days removing plants and equipment from Woodlands Castle, which is owned by eccentric peer Sir Benjamin Slade. It is understood Sir Benjamin rented out the 17th Century property in Somerset earlier this year and there is no suggestion he was aware of any illegal activity.
Police vans were seen at the castle last Tuesday and officers were still searching it on Thursday.
Sir Benjamin Slade rented out the property earlier this year and was completely unaware that drugs were being grown in the location
Woodlands Castle, set in 12 acres of parkland, is a well-known luxury wedding venue in Ruishton, six miles from Sir Benjamin’s 13th Century ancestral home, Maunsel House, pictured
Woodlands Castle, set in 12 acres of parkland, is a well-known luxury wedding venue in Ruishton, six miles from Sir Benjamin’s 13th Century ancestral home, Maunsel House.
A police spokesman said: ‘A man has been charged with production of controlled drug B following a discovery of suspected cannabis plants at an address in Ruishton.’
Trung Nam Pham, 39, of no fixed address, appeared before Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and was remanded in custody pending a crown court hearing.
The spokesman added: ‘Two further individuals were arrested in connection with this incident. Enquiries continue.’
Sir Benjamin, 75, a divorced shipping magnate who has a 150-strong gun collection that includes blunderbusses, a tommy gun, 400-year-old muskets and an AK47 assault rifle, once placed an advertisement for a ‘castle-trained wife’ who could provide him with two sons – an heir and a spare. He listed his requirements for the perfect ‘breeder’. She should be taller than 5ft 6in – ‘preferably 6ft 1ins or 6ft’ – aged between 30 and 40, and possess a gun licence. ‘Scorpios, drug users, lesbians, communists and Scots need not apply,’ he added.
Woodlands Castle usually plays host to dozens of weddings and events each year but has not been operating since the Covid-19 pandemic started. At the height of the crisis last year, Sir Benjamin offered the property to the Government to be used as a testing centre and emergency hospital.
Maunsel House – thought to be one of the properties at which Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales – has also been badly hit by the pandemic and Sir Benjamin recently advertised the 17-bedroom manor house for sale on Facebook. He told The Times that if a ‘stupid Arab or Chinese or Russian oligarch’ offered £30 million, he would ‘bite their hand off’.