Cassey Carrington and Matthew Topham were only 22 years-old when they won a staggering $61 million in the Euro Lottery back in 2012, and around that time, concerned parents round the world nodded disapprovingly; perhaps 22 is a bit young to know what to do with a fortune equivalent of some of Hollywood’s greatest actors net worth with not an inch of work, newspaper headlines announced upon their win. Eyes were set upon them for a bit after their obligatory champagne cork spritzing and Bahamas vacation, but they seemed to be acting tamely enough. Generously, even. They spent the initial funds on an actually quite modest wedding first. Then, they bought sports cars and a big home for themselves, a few houses for close friends, and gave their best friend and his mother almost $5 million to get out of tough times. For a bit, they went off the radar, but then, in 2014, after announcing the birth of their first child — a boy named Alfie — they announced their plan to purchase and renovate a landmark house in Nottingham, a famous art-deco home that sits on what was one Wollaton Hall, which was used as the location for the infamous Wayne Manor in the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.
Cassey Carrington and Matthew Topham were only 22 year-old when they won a staggering $61 million in the Euro Lottery back in 2012, and around that time, concerned parents round the world nodded disapprovingly; perhaps 22 is a bit young to know what to do with a fortune equivalent of some of Hollywood’s greatest actors net worth with not an inch of work, newspaper headlines announced upon their win. Eyes were set upon them for a bit after their obligatory champagne cork spritzing and Bahamas vacation, but they seemed to be acting tamely enough. Generously, even. They spent the initial funds on an actually quite modest wedding first. Then, they bought sports cars and a big home for themselves, a few houses for close friends, and gave their best friend and his almost $5 to get out of tough times. For a bit, they went off the radar, but then, in 2014, after announcing the birth of their first child — a boy named Alfie — they announced their plan to purchase and renovate a landmark house in Nottingham, a famous art-deco home that backs to Wollaton Hall, the infamous Wayne Manor in the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.
When 22-year-old British couple Cassey Carrington and Matthew Topham won a stunning $61 million in the Euro Lottery in 2012, they were generous and humble with their winning, initially. They went on holidays and helped out friends, mainly. They even bought a house for one of their friends. They also, as a lottery winner would, bought a mansion to live in themselves — but five years later, in stands as serious trouble for the neighborhood it’s in and for the couple.
Matt and Cassey
So, who are the young couple who managed to get so lucky so soon in their lives? Well, Matthew “Matt” Topham is a painter and decorator, and Cassey Topham is – or rather, was – a supervisor at a supermarket. The couple has been together since their teenage years, and they are both originally from Stapleford. Oddly enough, the Tophams are the second couple from Nottinghamshire to win the Euro Lottery jackpot. Matt, a former Air Training Force Corps cadet, says he has plans to take some flying lessons.
The couple’s huge lottery win happened in 2012. Their first expenses were on their quite modest wedding. They moved out of their home and bought an average sized home in the same neighborhood they were living in, and initially, perhaps to the surprise of some examining eyes, spent modestly — considering the amount of money they had won. They went on holidays and lavished themselves and friends with gifts — and that was mostly it for a while.
Despite the fact they were now multi-millionaires, the Tophams seemed more concerned in helping their friends than anything else. The new house they moved to was a $325,000 home, located not far from the apartment they shared before they had won the cash. Later on they developed a habit of purchasing luxury vehicles, but still, the Tophams were not even splurging. They went off the radar for about two-years, living happily in the new house they purchased.
One unusual thing was that the Tophams seemed much more concerned in sharing their wealth with their close circle of friends and family than to blow the money on huge expenses. In a notable step, they gave their best friend, Eddie, and his mother, nearly $5 million, “to get out of some rough times,” they had said. When they did, they reached headlines again, and source told English publication The Sun that their move is “a fantastic gesture and proves that [the Tophams] don’t intend on leaving their friends behind.’
The unrepayable debt
But there was something odd about the couple’s generosity. It is not at all unusual for celebrities of all kinds to use their very first paycheck for their parents, who they often credit with getting them to where they are. Oakland Raiders Amari Cooper, for example, saved up to buy his mom a house and a car, in an attempt to show gratitude for all she had done for him as a single mother. Strangely enough, however, none of that happened with neither Cassey nor Matt’s family.
It’s true: Matthew’s mother, Julie, never received a house, car, or any gift from the couple. Since one of Matt and Cassey’s first actions was to give their best friend upwards of $5 million to help him “overcome some tough times”, it obviously wasn’t a case where the couple wanted to keep the sum for themselves: Indeed, it later turned out that Julie Gamble has been estranged from her son for 7 years. She issued a modest statement in which she wishes the couple good luck and is happy for them.
Julie Gamble, in her statement, made a plea for her son to reunite with her. “I don’t want any of Matthew’s money.” She claims she drove to the Topham’s home in Nottingham, but that her son ignored her. Matthew has not spoken to his mother since his parents acrimonious divorce in 2004. Matthew’s sister chose to stay with Julie, and Matthew went with his father. So outraged was Matthew, that he swore in front of cameras: “My mother will never see her grandchildren.” Still, Julie hopes they could one day reconcile.
A cry for her son
Julie actually went on television following the Tophams’ win to beg for her son to speak to her again. Appearing on ITV’s morning talk show Daybreak, Gamble wished to send out a message to her son. “I love you, and I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.” Gamble insists she only used the platform to ask her son to speak to her again – “I don’t want any of the money. I don’t want anything.” Matthew kept his silence, though, and there was no reconciliation.
At any rate, the Topham’s decision to move to a modest home in their town rather than immediately buy a mansion seemed odd to their neighbors. Already when they moved to the $325,000 home – still a major upgrade from their $80,000 two bedroom semi a few blocks away – they seemed to have some neighbor trouble. “It’s a pretty claustrophobic part of the road,” said one neighbor, “and parking is an issue. Most people have a single car garage. We are constantly getting blocked in.”
‘Now I can find out’
Still, after about two years of what was considered modest spending — in comparison to the sum of the winnings — the couple, perhaps more settled in their newfound status and yearning for more. Matthew, a decorator by trade, said in 2014 to the daily mail that he had always painted huge mansions and wondered so much what it would be like to live in one. And the couple, now parents to baby boy Alfie, bought a mansion. And so they could now finally find out.
The Rainbow Connection
So, the Tophams set out to purchase a mansion. Since their plan was to create a home of their own, they needed a resident-free mansion, one that would allow them the land and space to create the home of their dreams. Luckily, an art-deco heritage home was up for sale in the most prestigious area of Nottinghamshire: The Rainbow House, a known mansion in the area that sat on a perfect location for the Tophams’ plan.
The couple set their mind on not only buying and residing in a mansion, but on creating their very own unique eco-home, which they nicknamed ‘The Teletubbies House’. Some ambitious plans were made by the couple, who had intention to create a 4-wing futuristic property, an eco-home complete with an underground swimming pool and waterfall, that operated solely on solar panels. Planning documents noted that the idea was “to build a house within a house.”
The idea was simple enough, in that it was incredibly complex and almost impossible to execute. The couple wanted the home to have four ‘centers’: a family hub, a game hub, a formal entertaining hub, and an annex. They wanted the house to be two stories above ground, and all around it, from the rooftop, to have a constant ‘water curtain’ operate at all times (a sort of water feature that would create a waterfall around the entire estate).
Not very colorful
Where – and what – is the Rainbow House, you ask? Good question. The 7-bedroom mansion is a part of a series of estates that sits on a land accessed by Adams Hill, and is nicknamed “Millionaire’s Row”, partly because of the land’s worth – which keeps increasing, in complete opposite to the general worth of lands in England. The mansion had already been abandoned for years when the couple purchased it. It was built in the 1930s.
A change of plans
Considering the incredible complexity of the Tophams’ plan, which was – dare we say it – almost childish – it’s no surprise their vision met problems from the beginning. And it wasn’t only the neighbors’ opinion of it that made it almost impossible to bring to life. A resident of the area, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “They’re really lucky kids, with really bad taste.” “Not too much sense in it,” said another neighbor. “It almost seems like they dreamt it up and decided to do it without thinking.”
All the red tape
But there was more to it. The Tophams’ idea was to ruin the art-deco heritage house, which they bought for a $5.5 million price tag, completely, and to then perform extensive renovation. The house was in derelict condition, and the Tophams needed it demolished to they could construct their new dream eco-future home on the land. The couple, however, was not ready to deal with the mass of bureaucracy needed in order to execute such a plan.
Not quite to plan
Though the Tophams did manage to receive, eventually, very initial planning for renovations, the specific orders for demolishing and constructing that needed to be submitted seamlessly — particularly planning on a land with such monetary value — did not come through quickly. Or at all. The Tophams purchased the home in 2014, and as of 2017, the house stands empty, in terrible condition, in the midst of one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in England.
Since the couple never moved into the house, and left it unguarded, its size and location made it extremely attractive to squatters, and individuals began residing in it illegally. Drug users began to use the location as dealing grounds, and soon enough, as a drug den, where users would stay. As time past by, the house became damaged and vandalized. The police visits the location often, and has put up a 12-foot fence, but not the fence nor the police seem to deter the intruders.
Trouble with the neighbors
Naturally, residents of the neighborhood feel upset. “We have been told by the council that all the toilets have been smashed, leaving the drains open,” a neighbor of the Rainbow House reported to the daily mail. “That, in turn, attracts rats. And there’s an empty swimming pool. That’s a real danger, too. To be honest, I’m surprised no one has been seriously hurt in there so far.” The neighbors are indeed upset not only due to the aesthetic disruption; there is an actual threat to life in the location.
Gangs and addicts
The Rainbow House used to be a heritage house — one of the most beautiful examples of art deco architecture and a frequent stop in future architect’s field trips. Exposed to the elements from without and within, the house is now a stop on a much different field trip: the location has become popular amongst young people, who visit it as a dare. The property has more than once been titled “The scariest place in Nottingham.”
End this farce
Unsurprisingly, the angered neighbors hold the Tophams accountable for a situation that both puts their lives at risk and significantly lowers the value of their living area. “The Tophams have shedloads of money, and they should be spending some to put an end to this farce,” area residents have said, “or at least pay for its security.” Indeed, other than the 12-foot fence attempt, no permanent security exists in the area, and it remains in its forsaken state.
Eventually, The Rainbow House was declared a public hazard, and by county laws, it should have been demolished. Unfortunately, the planning approval has been granted already — to the Tophams, of course. But at this point in times, the expenses of building their dream Teletubby home are far, far too high. And so the house stands between its owners and the resident, falling deeper into disrepair, with no action to be taken.
The extremely displeased local Nottingham council is aware of the situation, and has been for years. With the ownership of the home between a rock and a hard place, now the council is finally acting. A recent council report was quoted by ITV stating that “The house has been the victim of antisocial behavior, vandalism, countless arson and nuisance fire attempts. It is now in a state where every opening has been blocked up… and completely secured by steel sheets.
And, given the state the house is in currently, when most intruders have been blocked out of the residence, a new application is likely to be considered to remove control from the Tophams and demolish the house immediately. Which would have been fine — except the Tophams have retorted by submitting another file to demolish the house on their terms. And if they haven’t the funds to build their teletubby home on the land — no one knows what a newly constructed home on the location would look like.
The story of The Rainbow House remains incomplete, then — and the house is still standing empty, waiting and being pulled between confused owners, angered neighbors, and a frustrated local council. And it is a sad story, but not the only one, it seems, in Nottingham, as of late. Climbing down from its reputation as the one of the wealthiest areas in England as home value plummets down, more homes have been abandoned. A former air base in Nottingham, has been abandoned for years, and has remained derelict since.
RAF Newton Air Base
Then again, it may well be better off that the air base, located at RAF Newton, remains standing untouched. It’s well known that parts of the site are contaminated with radium; in the 40s and 50s, before the extent of the material’s damage was known it was used to coat aircraft dials, so they could glow in the dark. And there are other examples of derelict homes in the area. It does seem, however, with the close aid of the local council, that things are starting to pick up.
Up the ranks again
Scenic Nottingham is starting to climb back up the ranks of “best places to live in England” — a tough fight considering housing costs. Even some parts of the original air base have been starting to be included in an industrial estate. The local council is working hard to plan and execute construction of residential housing in the area in the coming future, taking advantage of its gorgeous views and rich past.
Rural living, close to the city
A new site using part of the air base, called Innes England, is being developed, and the local council is hoping for its construction in 2018. Director of Development at the site, has said, “This is a vital new housing scheme for the area, a particularly popular location with young families looking for a rural lifestyle within close proximity to the city. Strategically, this is a hugely important site.”
City of Caves
It’s true – Nottingham is only about 120 miles from London, and a perfect solution for families hoping to lead a simple, rural lifestyle while working in London – or simply for those who cannot afford the jacked-up property prices in London itself. Nottingham has a rich history: notably, it has links to the Robin Hood story. It is one of the oldest cities in England. It’s also known as the city of caves. To this day, plenty of cave formation, which were once used for housing, can be seen in the area.