Tycoon John Caudwell has revealed that a ghost is haunting his Midland mansion.
Mr Caudwell lives in 50-roomed Broughton Hall, near Eccleshall, Staffordshire.
Now, the billionaire who founded the mobile phones empire Phones 4u, has disclosed that his Jacobean pile has a ghost – of a terrified child killed during the Civil War.
John, 62, reveals: “The little boy was alone in the house. All the men had gone out hunting and the Cromwellians came down the drive.
“He shouted: ‘We are for the king’ – and one of the soldiers lifted a musket and shot him dead.
“He fell in the Long Gallery, crawled into one of the bedrooms and bled to death.
“Legend has it that, every so often, those blood stains come oozing through.
“I’ve never seen that, but there’s a strange thing: several women who have slept in the room have felt the bed vibrate – and I was not there at the time.
“There are also stories about this ghost brushing past people on the stairs.
“People who think they are in tune with the spirit world always say they can feel something – but it’s warm, not malevolent.”
John bought Broughton Hall 20 years ago for £800,000. It is now worth more than £10 million.
The entrepreneur sold off Phones 4u in 2006 for a cool £1.4 billion and is ranked as the 42nd richest person in Britain.
His rise to wealth came after he started work at the age of 17 on the production line at the Michelin factory in his home city of Stoke-on-Trent, earning just £3 a week.
He succinctly sums up those early days: “I became very well versed in the art of living on beans on toast.”
But he has never forgotten his humble roots and says: “When I die, half of my wealth will go to charity – and that objective motivates me to make as much money as I can.”
He already funds his own charity, Caudwell Children, which helps disabled youngsters.
Meanwhile, John is on track to achieve his big boy’s toys dream, having just been given planning permission to build his own steam railway in the grounds of Broughton Hall, which run to 28 acres. A half-sized locomotive will haul a fleet of fully furnished carriages, the whole project costing £500,000.
“It’s a mad idea; crackpot really,” he admits.
“I’ll probably only use the railway two or three times a year but I’ve had a fascination with steam trains since I was a boy.”
He reveals that – wealthy as he is – Broughton Hall poses a cash headache because of the heating bills.
“The secret is to create a nucleus of cosy rooms and for other members of the family to do the same,” he says.
“You then walk long distances through cold spaces to get to the next.”
There are several family suites in the mansion as Mr Caudwell has five children by three women.
He and his partner-of-15-years, Claire Johnson, separated last year, although they remain friends.
John is also still pals with his former wife, Kate, to whom he was married for 25 years.
When he tires of country life in Staffordshire, he has a £80 million mansion in Mayfair, London – and luxurious ski chalets in Vail, in the USA and Whistler in Canada.