The Abbey of Thelema
This small house served as the location for a commune and training grounds founded by occultist Aleister "The Beast" Crowley in 1920 to practice his form of religion, known as Thelema. The practice of Thelema was inspired by a series of satirical novels titled Gargantua and Pantagruel by French author, Francois Rabelais. In the books, the Abbey was described as metaphorical utopia, where the denizens were free to do as they please, without the constraints of law and recrimination. In addition, it was meant to serve as a training ground for followers of Crowley's writing (specifically The Book of Law) and philosophies.
Aleister Crowley's beliefs and writings made him the target for many religious organizations as well as the media, who labeled him "The Wickedest Man in the World" - a label that is said to have amused Crowley. Naturally, his commune at the Abbey of Thelema became the focus for a variety of tales of nefarious acts, such as orgies, drugs, bestiality, animal sacrifice and even human sacrifice. Years later, one the occupants of the Abbey would later deny most of these claims, saying Crowley didn't mind the accusations because it generated publicity for him. However, in the absence of any denials, it only helped to feed media frenzy when one of his followers would die at the Abbey.
Death of a Follower
Though the official cause was labled to be an illness brought on by drinking from the nearby spring, the death of Raoul Loveday in 1923 only led to more controversy for The Abbey of Thelema. Not helping the situation was Loveday's wife who, upon returning to England, sold her story to The Sunday Express. In it, she claimed that the illness was brought on when Loveday drank the blood of a cat during a ritualistic ceremony. Years later, she would recant that allegation and claim that Crowley had actually warned them not to drink from the stream.
Booted from Italy
1922 saw the rise of dictator Benito Mussolini when he became the youngest Prime Minister in Italy's history. In 1923, Mussolini ordered Crowley to leave the country. The speculation was that all of the negative press surrounding Crowley, only enhanced by the death of Loveday, led Mussolini to this decision. However, it is more probable that Crowley's known participation in "secret societies" (something a fascist dictator doesn't like too much) probably had more to do with it. Regardless, Crowley was forced to leave the country and The Abbey of Thelema was abandoned.
The Abbey of Thelema Today
After Crowley's departure in 1923, the Abbey had a few tenants over the year, but now remains unoccupied. It still stands to this day, though is in fairly bad shape. Since it has become known as something as local drug spot, the police in the area are constantly on patrol and several of the doors and windows have been blocked. In many parts of the house, the roof has caved in and the structure is believed to be fairly unstable. Despite the walls having been painted over with white paint later, some of the murals left behind by Crowley and his followers are still somewhat visible. Naturally, vandals have added to the collections as well.