From Ananova today:
Mole Man banned from home
An eccentric known as The Mole Man has been banned from his home after digging a 60ft network of tunnels beneath it.
William Lyttle, 75, spent 40 years burrowing under his 20-room house, removing 100 cubic metres of earth with a spade and pulleys.
It is now feared the street could give way, reports the Daily Mirror.
Lyttle is merely following in the footsteps of one of the greatest of all English eccentrics, William John Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland and Marquess of Titchfield (1800-1879).
The Duke took it upon himself to strip all the rooms in his Welbeck Abbey mansion and employ hundreds of workmen to construct a fantastic network of underground tunnels, totalling 15 miles and in some cases wide enough for two coaches.
He also built a series of underground rooms, including a library 250 feet long, an observatory with a large glass roof and a vast billiards-room.
The piece de resistance was a ballroom 174 by 64 feet wide, which had a hydraulic lift that could carry 20 guests from the surface and a ceiling painted to look like a giant sunset. Needless to say, the Duke, who was cripplingly introverted, never had any parties in this ballroom.
Indeed, he only ventured outside in the night and was preceded by a servant lady carrying a lantern 40 yards before him. Servants were forbidden to recongnise him and he would hide behind his umbrella if addressed. He insisted that a chicken be roasting at all hours of the day, and his food was delivered to him on heated trucks that ran on rails through the underground tunnels in the house.
And the many unused overground rooms in Welbeck Abbey? Naturally, Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck painted them all pink and installed a lavatory basin in every single one.
Presently they all sat down to luncheon together. The Mole found himself placed next to Mr. Badger, and, as the other two were still deep in river-gossip from which nothing could divert them, he took the opportunity to tell Badger how comfortable and home- like it all felt to him.
`Once well underground,' he said, `you know exactly where you are. Nothing can happen to you, and nothing can get at you. You're entirely your own master, and you don't have to consult anybody or mind what they say. Things go on all the same overhead, and you let 'em, and don't bother about 'em. When you want to, up you go, and there the things are, waiting for you.'
The Badger simply beamed on him. `That's exactly what I say,' he replied. `There's no security, or peace and tranquillity, except underground. And then, if your ideas get larger and you want to expand--why, a dig and a scrape, and there you are! If you feel your house is a bit too big, you stop up a hole or two, and there you are again! No builders, no tradesmen, no remarks passed on you by fellows looking over your wall, and, above all, no weather. Look at Rat, now. A couple of feet of flood water, and he's got to move into hired lodgings; uncomfortable, inconveniently situated, and horribly expensive. Take Toad. I say nothing against Toad Hall; quite the best house in these parts, as a house. But supposing a fire breaks out--where's Toad? Supposing tiles are blown off, or walls sink or crack, or windows get broken--where's Toad? Supposing the rooms are draughty--I hate a draught myself--where's Toad? No, up and out of doors is good enough to roam about and get one's living in; but underground to come back to at last--that's my idea of home.'
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows Chapter 4