"One of the most thrilling reads of the 21st Century"- Marilyn Monroe

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The Matriarch House

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

In todays blog I'm out in the Shropshire wilderness feeling like if I stray too far from civilisation, a big white ball will come out of the ground and chase me across the beach.
Seriously, I was trapped out here. This is one of those areas that are a few miles from public transport, and there's no phone signal. But I kinda love it.
My feet weren't going to love it in the morning, but that's okay, it's Future Me's problem.

So what was I doing out in the middle of nowhere? I was looking for an abandoned house, of course.

I was given a tip that there was an abandoned house within a certain distance from a village in Shropshire, and I made an effort to get out to it, approaching cautiously, not being 100% convinced that this place was abandoned, what with a car being parked outside. However, with the garden strewn with wreckage and nobody emerging from the building to tell me to fuck off, I soon accepted that I was alone here.

This car is the most modern piece of machinery here and even that has seen better days.
A quick number plate lookup told me that this car is from 1978 and that its tax has been due since 1995. So from that we can assume that this house has been empty for a couple of decades, roughly.

Abandoned houses fascinate me. The stories surrounding their abandonment are known only to those who lived here. Most often it can be assumed that the previous owner has passed away without any family to inherit what they had. And as such, when I visit places like this I treat them with respect. This is essentially a gravestone to the former occupant, or a museum of their life.
When the occupants life came to an end, the house remained as it was. Or so I thought...

 Upon entry I recognised the house from the magical land of the internet, from some Urban Exploring site. When I read that entry I had no idea that the house, nicknamed the Matriarch House, was in Shropshire, because the photographer had not specified the location. It had stuck in my mind though, because of a World War 1 helmet and a bunch of Nazi-related stuff that was reich in mein kampfort zone.
To clarify, I'm not a Nazi. I just think finding an abandoned house with Nazi memorabilia in the UK seemed so out of the ordinary, it was enough to give me adventure envy.

Upon realising that I was in the actual Matriarch House, I set about finding the items that I had seen in photos, but they were not here. The house has indeed had many visitors and looters since its discovery, no doubt because its location got out to the urban exploration community at some point.

 But in spite of this initial disapointment, the house still retained a lot of property, including the furniture and the sewing machine.

 This is a sort of antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.

 This book is the closest thing I found to anything war-related, and it's not specifically about it. However, given the earlier visitor had documented items with swastikas on, and a World War 1 helmet, it's a fair assumption that the former occupier did have an interest in history around war time, and perhaps they even fought in the war. This book on European history would cover World War 1 and the early years of World War 2, as well as the Victorian era. Also present in the earlier visitors photos were Victorian photos in picture albums, which were likely remnants of the previous occupier and their family lineage perhaps. All of it hinted at an interest in history that was likely caused by having a detailed family bloodline. I actually envy this. I know absolutely nothing of my genetic lineage before my parents. My only living parent was adopted. For all I know I could be a Burmese Princess or something.

 The calendar is intriguing because even though it's dated 2013, someone has crossed it out and scribbled "2014" on it. Now, this is not how calendars work. One can't just write a new year on it and then use it again, because the days will be different. As you can see, September 1st 2013 was a Sunday. This year it was a Friday. Do you see what I mean? The varying lengths of months and the rigid unvarying length of weeks throws it right off.
Presumably the occupier knew this. Perhaps an illness or age prevented them from going out and buying a new calendar, so they made do with the same one again, but remembered that the days were wrong. I seem to recall a time in my life when I was much less motivated than I am now, when I simply didn't turn the clocks back, and kept telling myself that I'd get on it, but ultimately just reminded myself to subtract an hour when checking the time. So I can believe that someone might fall into this sort of rut with something like a calendar.

 Here's the scariest thing in the abandoned house, the Daily Mail (AAAAAAAHHH!!!) and it's dated 2011.

 And here we have more medicine (and you know I include the chocolate when I say that!)
Omeprazole is for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is basically caused by the backup of stomach acid in the esophagus, which can cause heartburn and stomach pain.

Based on the evidence, it would seem that someone of failing health did live here. Perhaps their health deteriorated to the point that they were stuck at home, and as such the car never got what it needed, and the calendar never got replaced. Nothing in this house dates any later than September 2014.

There are a couple of identical photos here. I have no idea if this was the home owner or a family member. Does anyone recognise them?

 Showing the buildings age, what passes for a kitchen in this house is pretty much just an old building extension filled with kitchen appliances.

 The presence of cleaning products adds to the eeriness. Of all the rooms in the building, the kitchen is perhaps the one with the most accurate portrayal of how this house looked on the last day of being lived in. Nobody loots cleaning products and expired food.

The door was baricaded though but this is actually a common feature in abandoned places. Some urban explorers will block the most obvious way in, and exit through an unobvious way which isn't immediately visible from outside, to retain access to an abandoned site but also protect it from people with less imagination.

 I made my way upstairs.

 The bathroom is filthy. The box on the toilet is indicative that maybe someone was in the process of packing but gave up.

And again, nobody ever loots toilet paper. I mean why would we? We have indestructable waterproof money now. Just wipe your arse with a fiver, wash it off in the sink and wipe your arse with it again! It's brilliant. Sure, you lose £5 but think of the money you'll save on toilet paper in the long run.

 From here things got considerably more cluttered.

 The framed pictures add to the houses former character. Nothing highlights mortality quite like an abandoned house does. Someday we'll all be gone and it could be our posessions being wandered through and photographed.

There are books discarded among the clothing here.

Coats are still hanging in the wardrobe.

And somewhere under all this clutter is a bed. The fact that so much has been piled onto the bed indicates either heavy looting, or some attempt at sorting out the occupants posessions. This is, however, consistent with the images I saw of this house when I first saw photos of it online.

There's something I often say, usually in regards to visiting a place more than once, and I learned it from Camelot Theme Park and Calcott Hall, and that's that an abandoned place will always be at its best on the first visit. These places do not last long. Even comparing my experience with someone elses experience on the internet, Matriarch House has been changed.
Still, in contrast with the likes of Calcott Hall, the Knights Templar Caves and Cloud House, the Matriarch House has yet to be scooped up by the media, and as such it has been slightly more preserved. The media is actually pretty awful for this sort of thing. In fact the mainstream media is awful for most things. But Matriarch House is hidden away in the Shropshire countryside and that's the way it should stay. It's sadly not the way it will stay- The Matriarch House location is known to people. But it would be nice to think of it being forever preserved.
That's a little much to ask though.

That concludes my blog on the Matriarch House. It's a nice, mysterious abandoned cottage with a lot of potential. Being structurally okay, it could easily be cleared out and lived in again.

Next blog post I have something Shrewsbury based that is huge and long demanded by my readers. But there might be a bit of a wait, but it will be worth it. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and if you like this blog post share it on social media. 
And most importantly, don't forget to just be good to each other. Each of us has power to decide if someone has a good day or a bad day. Don't misuse that power, because that's just what Hitler did. Don't be a Hitler.

Thanks for reading! Stay awesome!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

That door on Dogpole

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

Following our six-blog road trip out into Wales, I thought I'd better make sure I post something Shrewsbury based! So today, I'm on Dogpole, which is a road with an odd name, with numerous theories about the origin. The most prevalent is that the town walls, which used to cross the street, had a really small door which was nicknamed the duck hole, because unless one fancied head injury, ducking was a requirement for entry. Over time, Duck Hole became Dogpole. That's not so much of a stretch when one really thinks over how the English language, particularly the vowels, has evolved since the 1600s.

At the bottom of Dogpole is this odd door.

It's narrow, and has this curious brickwork at the top, which has always caught my attention. While my map of Shrewsbury in 1880 doesn't offer what purpose this building had in those days, the door still appears on it, but in spite of its age it's obvious from looking at it that it was once a window.

Unsure on the details of this, or if there are any fun stories connected to this property, I took to the internet to discuss the issue with people who know things about things, in some of the Shropshire Facebook groups. This is what I love about the internet. The entirety of recorded human knowledge is now at our fingertips. Sure, like any tool it can be misused, just as a wrench is meant for turning nuts and bolts, it can also be used to smash a window. In much the same way, the internet can be used to insult and harass people anonymously, but more positive and recommended use of the internet has made writing this blog educational and informative because it allows me to talk to people who know things about things that I don't know about. And best of all, having a platform means that the giving and recieving of what people offer is now a two-way street that I've tried to use responsibly. For example, a cancer victim is currently wearing my hair, which my readers generously sponsored and raised over £300 for, but on a smaller scale more recently I had help from a number of my readers to help a guy in his thirties find and reunite with his biological mother, having never met her. Such things would not be possible without the readers. And this is why I love the internet. Everyone can have a platform now, and reach the entire world, and with that comes the opportunity to change lives like never before. These are great times to be alive.

So apparently this brickwork around the doorframe is called Corbeling. At some point this was a window, and when it was converted into a door, rather than take out the stone lintel, the brickwork was put in place to support it. While corbeling is used today, this particular doorway has been commented on as "bad practice" by a few people in the profession. Personally, if I lived in this building, I'd probably end up with numerous skull collisions when coming home drunk.

Holy Crap! Perhaps this door is the Duck Hole of Dogpole!

But seriously, I feel sorry for whoever has to get furniture into this building!

My goal for this adventure was to access the rooftops. Of all the views I have managed to snap around my town, I have yet to get a shot down Wyle Copp, unless one counts the view from St Julians Church. But I wanted one a little closer, and so I set my goal as the rooftops on Dogpole. With the building on the other side of this peculiar door empty and barren, it was a perfect opportunity to access the rooftops via the interior of a building. 

So what's in there? Well it's my understanding that it was an office block until very recently when it was converted into flats. It was during this conversion that I snuck inside... but did I make it to the roof?
Well yeah. I'm good like that.

Upon entry I found this narrow staircase. In spite of the mess, it retains its homely vibe purely due to the carpeting, which sounds stupid but it's actually quite apparent when viewed in contrast with the upper floors. It's strange how these things work.
This is the only way into the building, which doesn't make it look promising for anyone trying to get a sofa into a flat.

These stairways are pretty narrow and bendy, but the layout was pretty straightforward. In spite of my ultimate goal being rooftop access I took the time to snap up the rooms of these flats. The flats are actually above the shop, Vinterior, which sells all kinds of cool things, and is totally worth checking out too!

In the hallways I came across a lot of these silver boards. I'm no builder, and I know nothing about the profession, but it seems to me that modern walls are made out of shiny cardboard. And I know that's not what this actually is! But it's what it reminds me of, and it's an interesting comparison.

The higher floors definitely show signs of construction work. It needs to be specified that construction sites are often more dangerous than simple abandoned sites. The structural integrity cannot be trusted, and builders might leave all sorts of hazards around, like exposed wires and such, or missing floorboards. Don't do as I do. Stay safe. There's a reason why builders wear protective clothing, and it's because their job has risks.

This toilet is still in better condition than some toilets in active pubs and clubs.

Here we have what I guess will be a lounge area for a flat. It's spacious, and has an old fireplace in it.

There's an odd kind of feeling to this sort of trespass. This is a future home, but I was here first. I hope that the fireplace remains, and isn't blocked off, because it's little things like this that give a place character.

I ascended even higher, and the construction work only got more obvious and noticable. This building was old and they were rapidly modernising it.

This lounge is directly above the one with the fireplace and as you can see, the fireplace has sadly been blocked off. How infuriating! I'd love a flat with a fireplace! Even a non-functional one!

This little room is full of Builder Graffiti, outlining their future plans. It seems that this little room is due to become a bathroom.

Heading up the stairs, I found that the buildings attic was also undergoing transformation to become a flat.

But look at this door! It's tiny, and on such a raised step, what could it possibly be for?

There's some more builder graffiti here, indicating that this tiny room is due to have a toilet. Currently the toilet is absent, and in its place are just a bunch of loose floorboards.

And yes, this toilet area is still in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.

Hey look, this entire attic ceiling is being coated with shiny cardboard!

It is cool though, that while the modern shiny stuff is being attached, the older wall is still visible in places. This building is pretty ancient.

And here is a pile of rubble. And this is where the interior of the building comes to its end. But don't worry, there are windows, and that means rooftop access is totally possible!

Over in the distance is the clocktower, which I have been to the top of. It's considerably taller than I am right now, but nevertheless rooftopping has a certain rush to it. It just feels amazing to be up here.

And here's my much sought-out view of Wyle Copp.
Allegedly those wooden posts down the left of the street are there specifically to stop vehicles from ever parking there. The street was apparently once much more narrow, and later widened. However the cellars are still in their original places, which is further forward than the actual buildings are now. Should a vehicle park on them, it might collapse. Or so I've heard. But I do know for a fact that Wyle Copp has a lot to see underground.

And that's about all I got for this blog. As far as rooftops go, this isn't like the Pride Hill rooftops where one can cover a large portion of town. This is just a chillout spot, where one can relax and watch the world go by.
Also going by was a car that decided to loop around the one-way system a number of times playing that Rag & Bone Mans song "Human" on a loop. I'm not joking. The person driving that car must have really liked that song.

Whats it even about? What's he getting blamed for that being human somehow excuses? I mean if he failed to chase and catch a moving submarine then fair enough, he's only human. But if he farted in a crowded elevator, he needs to own that shit.

That's all I've got, but before I wrap up this blog post, I want to do a quick shout out to the recent Day of the Decaf event which happened in Shrewsbury. Basically a bunch of local coffee shops each made a zombie movie, and then we had a screening event at the fantastic venue that is Alberts Shed. The films were judged by Aaron who birthed the idea in his head, and Charlie Adlard who draws the Walking Dead, and following that we had the excellent Paprika Blues Trio play a gig, in addition to featuring in one of the zombie films. It was a massive magnet for Shrewsburys creative people, most of which are introverts and hidden away, but so many of them still got involved in this, as well as local coffee shops, which gave the entire thing a real community vibe, and this sort of thing is what makes Shrewsbury so enjoyable to live in. I believe the event will happen again next year, and if it does I really recommend anyone looking for creative projects to immerse themselves in gets involved. It's the sort of thing which could someday become a huge Shropshire tradition.
And check out the prize!

I stole this picture from Dan Nore, who made the prize based on the posters that were designed by Saffron Russell. And I have to say, to be reminded that I have such creative people in my life has been a much needed breath of fresh air.

Anyway that's all I've got. If you like this blog post, share it on the social media of your choice. And if you want to get regular updates, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Additionally if you want to support the adventure fund, there's a donate button at the top of the blog. That is, of course, optional. Don't feel pressured. What matters most is that you're happy, and that you're making others happy. There's a lot of negativity in the world, and a lot of toxic people, but we each have the power to repel it, and remove it from our lives.
Remember, if you scrape dog crap off the bottom of your shoe, it doesn't mean the dog crap won, it just means you were smart enough to wipe dog crap off your shoe. If you meet great people without wiping it off your shoe, they're not going to be your friend because you smelled like dog crap. If you go home without scraping it off your shoe, you'll just end up smearing dog crap around your house. This is my favourite metaphor for toxicity. Stay positive, give out positivity, and repel negative interactions.

Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!