Recluse abandons private kingdom: Creator of Devon wilderness disappears

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The Independent Online
PARSONS KINGDOM has been abandoned by its founder, Tony Parsons, a 48-year-old recluse, who has disappeared 'into the community' leaving behind the burnt-out wreckage of his shack.

Mr Parsons, a former merchant navy engineer, built his kingdom near Cullompton in Devon, on ground owned by British Rail alongside the London to Penzance line and M5. He cleared it, raised a wind generator to run a radio and tape recorder, and turned a wilderness into a secret landscape of ponds and flower glades.

BR was happy to leave him in peace until Mid-Devon District Council served the railmen with an enforcement notice to evict their squatter for not having planning permission.

Three weeks ago, Mr Parsons, who believes life in his kingdom freed him of the need to have psychiatric treatment in hospital, said: 'They're not happy just going about their own business. They want to find out everyone else's and then stop it.'

Ironically, Mr Parsons disappeared just as the district council had a change of heart and decided to let him stay.

A BR spokesman said yesterday: 'We actually got a fax about the council's decision the same day we discovered Mr Parsons had been crossing the track on foot to tend a garden he'd started up on the other side. This is a high-speed express track so there was an obvious danger both to Mr Parsons and trains.

'Then we got a phone call from his social worker saying he'd burned the place down and gone and our problem has disappeared. We'd have been forced to do something if he'd stayed . . .'

A local man, Mr Parsons' whereabouts remained a mystery yesterday. Meanwhile, a reader of the Independent who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered to buy Mr Parsons another piece of land where he can be allowed to settle and re-create his kingdom.

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