Wednesday, 31 July 2019

The Horse and Jockey

(Disclaimer: Joking aside, I fully understand the risks/dangers involved in these adventures and do so in the full knowledge of what could happen. I don't encourage or condone and I accept no responsibility for anyone else following in my footsteps. Under UK law, trespass without force is a civil offence. I never break into a place, I never photograph a place that is currently occupied, as this would be morally wrong and intrusive, I never take any items and I never cause any damage, as such no criminal offences have been committed in the making of this blog. I will not disclose means of entryI leave the building as I find it and only enter to take photographs for my own pleasure and to document the building.

Recently I've taken some time out of whatever it is I do for a living to celebrate that time I slithered from the womb with all the grace and elegance of a satsuma, the aniversary of which is measured by how many laps I do around a ball of fiery gas on the back of a big rock. My mental health historically plummets this time of year, but in a great break with tradition, I feel better than ever. In fact this year has been a steady ascension in all areas. Almost every day is better than the last. And when it isn't it's never anywhere near as bad as it once was. I'm really happy at the moment. So to celebrate, I decided to take a break from my national blog and return to this one, to talk about a cute derelict pub in a small Shropshire town.

Old pubs fascinate me, particularly the disused, ancient ones that shut their doors before I was even old enough to legally drink. These were communual hubs in their own right once. The locals would come here, mingle with their friends, and in this pubs case, allegedly eat the best served food in town. Everyone has stories from pubs, both good and bad, fun and absurd, and when a pub closes, people are genuinely sad.There's a lot of nostalgia connected to these places.
I've had my eye on this pub for years, and scouted it with the two urban explorers, Matt and Kelsey, although we had no luck getting in initially. But as it has steadily become more and more derelict, a way in finally showed up.

But before we jump into it, I want to draw attention to a charity fundraiser. My friend Amy who works with children has a girl, aged eleven, who is giving all of her hair to the Little Princess Trust, because in her own words "other people need my hair more than I do." The Little Princess Trust produces wigs for cancer victims, particularly young people, free of charge. It's a massive step to giving them back their dignity. I donated my own hair to them once, but its bloody inspiring that an eleven year old is doing it too. My faith in humanity has been a teeny bit restored. If you want to spare some dosh to this incredibly noble cause, click here.

Now, to the pub!

Allegedly this is the oldest pub in the town, but it actually began life as three cottages. The clues to this can be spotted from the front, with the variations to the rooftops.
I wasn't sure when the three houses amalgamated, but a former owner got in touch and informed me that the original part was built in 1640 but expanded on in the 1700s and 1800s. I'm also not sure when it closed. Streetview goes back as far as 2009 and shows it shut, but slightly less derelict.

There's not a lot of information on the internet. However, from what I can tell people have fond memories. It had a pool table, a huge beer garden, and did great meals. The garden also has some super ancient stables, so presumably it was once a coach house.

There's a broken security camera casually lying on the floor outside. I don't think it'll have a very good view down there...

Well given that Big Brother is sleeping on the job, let's slip inside!

Check it out! This place is amazing!
Because the pubs windows were bricked up, there's actually no light in here. The entire place is dark, but miraculously still in decent shape. The bar is still here, as are the tables and seats.
As I entered the pub, the sound of movement in this room was pretty unmistakable, given the clutter and broken glass all over the floor. I felt for sure that I wasn't alone in there, but when I lit up my torch I found that nobody else was there. And yet something had produced that noise. Before we jump on the supernatural bandwagon, I'm completely open to the idea of a rat or something living in here.  However, paranormal enthusiasts will be pleased to know that a lot of the old regulars do say that the place is haunted.

I love it here. It's so eerie, but still so pretty.

The pub allegedly shut due to structural issues, and remained an attractive, albeit slightly run down, giant street ornament right up until 2009 when it went up in flames one morning.
And by morning, I mean Stupid-O-Clock, like 4am or something. They concluded that it was arson based on the signs of a break-in and the fact that the fire was started in two separate locations in the building.

There's a lot still here though. While there are certainly signs of a fire, the bar and furniture are otherwise fine. The building itself gave no indication of being ready to collapse. Of course, I'm no expert in a buildings structural stability, but I know for a fact I've been in buildings in worse shape than this.

And don't get me wrong, I'm glad the building still stands, but it seems to me that if someone can't manage to burn down a building that already has structural issues, with two fires, then maybe arson isn't for them. They're clearly awful at it.

All that aside, allegedly the owner isn't allowed to demolish it due to it being such a historic building, but in their credit, they've taken huge lengths to keep people out- the windows are bricked, not boarded, and I'm fairly certain that my way in was purely by chance. 

There's a sign here advertising the last night at the pub, a Halloween night, curiously on the 27th October rather than the 31st. To me, that suggests that the pub closed in 2007, when the 27th fell on a Saturday. It fell on a Saturday in 2001, too, and while the thought of this pub standing as a time capsule for nearly twenty years does sound appealing, the longer a place has been empty, the less realistic it is to see it in good shape. And fires aside, this place is still in reasonably good condition.

This sign suggests that at one point it re-opened briefly before closing for good.

Another sign has been defaced to tell us that Al is gay.
Good for you, Al.

The dusty sign propped up at the back of this room indicates that this was the dining area, as does the still extant coffee menu.

Here's Henry, unloved yet still smiling. I feel ya, Henry.

Now onto the best part of any abandoned place...

Yep, still in better condition than the toilets in some (active) pubs and clubs.

There's a narrow hallway that goes past the toilets, connecting the back of the dining room to the main bar area, and that had these whimsical pictures which I guess show the creation of beer. In this case, specifically 6x beer.

Moving on upstairs, where the windows aren't bricked up, I traded the ability to see for my own personal comfort as I came up against my long-term arch nemesis, Pigeons.

Do you see it? It's on the top shelf next to the right-hand testicle, lurking in the shadows.
I've had a bitter hatred for these winged creatures ever since I was trapped in a derelict brothel with a horde of them. The brothel is still my most popular blog post ever though, so I guess it all worked out. 

The upper floor has seen better days. The windows are smashed, and they're exposed to the elements. The elements have also brought with them feathery devils, and an exacerbated level of decay.
The upper floors also have the most graffiti for some reason. I guess it makes sense since the upper floors are the most freely accessible given the open windows, but it's not as if the downstairs is shut off.
The downstairs is also considerably nicer.

Scrawled across the floor, but partially buried under pigeon poop, ir says "Fuck Life."

There's this monitor in the corner, which I presume once displayed the footage from the CCTV cameras. Now that's also been smashed and slathered in pigeon poop.

And of course, here's the kitchen.

But while the upstairs was pretty bleak, the cellar itself was especially creepy.

There's some amusing "house graffiti" down here. That is, it was scrawled here when the place was operational. It seems that someone was really passionate about keeping this door shut. In all likelihood, they asked multiple times and people kept forgetting, so they resorted to angry messages.

The note on the side of the freezer is a little more boring, telling people to fill their own ice trays.

Curiously, but to my delight, there's a chunk of architectual history at the far end of the cellar, where these stairs lead to nowhere. If the floorboards weren't there, they'd come up right by the wall across from the bar, but they've been blocked off seemingly for years.
No doubt, these were the original cellar stairs for one of the three cottages that were amalgamated into the pub. What's especially cool though is that one can see where the steps have gradually worn down after years of usage.
I genuinely love the history these places, and I love that after all these years little tidmits like this are retained.

Sadly while the pub gradually deteriorates, there's probably little chance of it ever reopening. It would be amazing if someone did invest in it, and bring it back to life, and I think the locals would love it. But right now that seems like mere wishful thinking. But I think the downstairs had a great atmosphere, and if it ever does reopen, I'll definitely come here for a drink.

That's all I got. My next two blog posts will both be pubs, but they'll be on the other blog because they aren't local. However, they were all home-from-homes to some people. We also have some exciting news coming up, so stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, please share the blog wherever you want, and don't forget to Follow my Instagram, Like my Facebook and Follow my Twitter. And be nice to each other!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

The Shell Grotto

(Disclaimer: Joking aside, I fully understand the risks/dangers involved in these adventures and do so in the full knowledge of what could happen. I don't encourage or condone and I accept no responsibility for anyone else following in my footsteps. Under UK law, trespass without force is a civil offence. I never break into a place, I never photograph a place that is currently occupied, as this would be morally wrong and intrusive, I never take any items and I never cause any damage, as such no criminal offences have been committed in the making of this blog. I will not disclose  locationI leave the building as I find it and only enter to take photographs for my own pleasure and to document the building.)

Hi everyone! Todays blog post is a small one, but the location sure is quirky and it deserves a mention, as a little nugget of Shropshires history gathering dust in the countryside, a fair trek from any actual civilisation. It's this small, but cute little grotto.

Isn't this adorable? I love these quiet, hidden away treasures. I like to imagine that they were constructed by or for weirdos like me, who can't enter social interactions without internally screaming. You might chat to me, and I'll seem calm, but no, I'm a delightful functioning wreck.
And I don't know why. It must take some genius levels of genius to figure out my brain. I can't do it, and I can turn a colander into a radar dish to grab Barclays free wifi in my house, so what chance has anyone else got? I do pride myself in my life hacking skills though. I'm a walking talking lifehack. If a lifehack could manifest in a big fleshy human form, it would be me.
But I digress!

The point is, if I had land, a little home-from-home getaway would almost certainly be on it, tucked away, hidden from view.

So what's so special about this little hut? Well for all its mediocre exterior, the interior is a work of art...

The walls are covered in thousands of shells, each intricately adhered to the walls, very similar to the shell grotto of the Cyclops Cavern, but cute and diddy, and not part of any larger sprawling extravaganza. 
At least, not anymore. 

The land was all once part of a larger estate owned by a wealthy family of which the nearby village is also named after. On the land was a massive castellated manor, the ruins of which are open to the public. Its of historic significance due to being a meeting spot for Parliament back in 1283, but in 1487, the land was confiscated by Henry VII, who in turn gave it to the Duke of Norfolk.
By the 1750s the land was owned by a whole new family, but much of what had been here before had been demolished, the castellated manor reduced to ruin. 

A man named Edward set about improving the landscape, and had this little grotto built in 1750, presumably with a prettier view than the woodland that surrounds it today. He also had a new hall built near the ruins of the old one in 1753 and enlarged in 1814. 

But of the estate this is the only part that has not been re-purposed. Today, the ruins of the old hall are a tourist attraction, the new hall is a college, the village a conservation area, and this little shell grotto forgotten completely, seemingly having crept under the radar.

For a building made in 1750 and exposed to the elements, it's in shockingly good condition. Dotted around it are these old decorative tiles, each depicting miniature Chinese landscapes, some of which are damaged, most of which are missing.

But look! This place is amazing!

There's a small pig adhered to the wall, presumably a later addition by a visitor.

And in the middle of the floor is the remains of a table support. Allegedly the side of the circular building opposite the door was a seating area with a central table, meaning a few people could have sat here, and chilled, and necked back a couple of drinks.

It sure would have been interesting to see what it looked like in its glory day, but at the same time, what we have here is still in terrific condition.

That is, of course, all I've really got. To conclude, I love that places like this exist, hidden away where people don't generally go, but part of me does wish they were more protected and available to be enjoyed by everyone.

On the land, there is also a clay pigeon shooting range, but the seats and equipment look like they've not been used in a fair while either!

Because social media is being a bit of a wazzock and not showing the updates of people we follow to see the updates of, share the blog where you want to increase coverage.

Next time I'm visiting one of Shropshires derelict pubs before I do another derelict pub on the national blog, Everywhere From Where You Are Not.

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Thanks for reading!