Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Vanity House

Readers of this blog probably remember Calcott Hall, the house in north Shropshire thats been abandoned for decades. The media coverage identifiying the house as "Red Dress Manor" means that over the years Calcott Hall has been visited by waves of explorers and has been no doubt pillaged to the point that it no longer resembles the way it was originally left.

However, I learned of a similarly abandoned house known as the Vanity House, that had only been ventured into a few times, and as such the authenticity of the place was a lot more believable. According to my sources, the owners wife passed away and he couldn't bring himself to either live there or sell the property, and so it was abandoned. The name "Vanity House" stuck, perhaps for the number of dressing tables and mirrored wardrobes in there, and since it's right here in Shropshire I couldn't pass up the opportunity to check it out.

The first thing I noticed as I approached via the fields was that the yard was overgrown with nettles, and littered with the remnants of vehicles- mostly cars but also a couple of tractors and other farm machinery. I had no idea when these vehicles had last been used, but they were numerous and quite clearly never going anywhere ever again.

This ladder was propped up against a tree but didn't actually lead anywhere.

But I had high hopes for the building interior and didn't hessitate to slip inside.

Disclaimer: I don't force entry, I don't disclose means of access, I don't steal, or vandalize, and I must warn that these places are dangerous and people should always tread carefully. 

The first roomI found myself in was pretty untidy, and I almost made the fatal mistake of walking across the middle of the room- It quickly became apparent that this room is in fact partly a chasm, and that the hole in the ground is plugged by discarded furniture. A few weak floorboards remained, but I had to make my way around the edges of this room.

The bottles here seemed too new and perfectly placed in comparison, and made me think that maybe this place had been visited by people, maybe teenagers in search of a spooky place to hang out.

This last photograph I found particularly sad, as upon inspection I realized that this was taken in the room I was currently in, cheery in contrast to the current condition it was in.

Luckily, the other rooms had more stable flooring, and I began to let my guard down.

I found the pictures to be of interest. Presumably these people are all still out there somewhere, and these memories of them have just been left. 

I photographed this incredibly dusty mirror and panicked as I noticed a man reflected in the surface, but it turned out to just be a Bruce Springsteen record. 

Anti climax!

Moving on to the next room...

 The Calendar remains on December 1979 through to February 1980, so presumably this is the time period in which this place became abandoned.

A dog lead hung on the wall.

This calendar was obviously made by a child, perhaps as a school project. 

There was a bottle of medication, the label details I hid from the camera for the ladies confidentiality. 

Curiously, the newspaper was dated 2001, which contradicts the calendar on the wall. So someone did come back here, with a newspaper, but didn't care enough to change the calendar. Did the owner try to reoccupy this space, but live in a two-decade rut before deciding to abandon it forever, or was this brought there at a later date by someone else?

There's an axe on the kitchen draining board, amongst other things.

The fact that some things retain an orderly fashion while other things are just piled up in a messy heap is a curious aspect. If the place was raided, why not take the vintage radios, the vinyl records, the record player, and then smash a window or two on the way out? Surely this was left this way by the owner, and if that is indeed the case, why? 

 Towels still hang.

One of the things stated in one of the urbex stories I've read about this place was that the owner had a fixation with the concept of time, hence why you may have noticed a lot of timepieces, clocks and watches scattered around.
Personally I think this is a pretty big leap of logic, and no doubt one designed to give the place some kind of identity or mystery in much the same way the red dress was used at Calcott Hall, which I'm still not 100% convinced wasn't planted there. I don't think it's possible to use a detail so vague as having a lot of clocks to make an accurate psychological evaluation like that. I mean, he had a lot of cars too. And a lot of televisions. Just look at this picture- there's three TVs in shot, and it's not even meant to be a photo of a TV, it's a photo of a piano.

OH MY GOD, did I say Piano???

In all my years urban exploring, I've never found a discarded piano! Calcott Hall had a grandfather clock that also got me similarly excited. Come to think of it, there were a lot of clocks at Calcott Hall too. Did the red dress lady have a fixation with time?

Unfortunately this room was far too full of clutter for me to get a decent front shot of the piano, but I did find a rather touching wedding photograph, and also Madonna.

After the piano room there wasn't much left to see downstairs, and since I had nearly fallen through the floor of the first room, I was actually reluctant to go upstairs. But then, I'd feel really bad if I didn't.

 Okay, maybe that is an excessive amount of clocks for one mantlepiece...

Issues of "Parish News" are dated June 1979 and August 1981. 

The main upstairs room had a few gems among yet more mess, but the bathroom I barely touched because the moment I opened the door I was hit by a stench awful beyond words. I stuck around long enough to snap a few photos and determine that the stench wasn't a dead body or something. In all honesty, it was probably mold or decay, but it was too strong for me to venture into the bathroom. I'm a wuss, I know.

The bedrooms were all very similar- piles of clutter, but with dressing tables and wardrobes left intact. There were four bedrooms in total, but the flooring was so weak that I barely had the courage to cross them, although I did for the sake of some photos on a dressing table. I very much made my way around the outside of the rooms, where the floor would be strongest.

I'm actually really happy about this wardrobe shot- it's taken directly in front of it, but the doors are open just enough to award me space between the reflective surfaces, so that my reflection can't be seen. 

The above bed had a stench of waste, particularly around that bowl under the bedside table. I didn't peek inside, but I had the sudden fear that this was the room that the woman died in. There was a pink corset hanging over the wardrobe door. 

Yeah, let's just call it Pink Corset Manor until it mysteriously vanishes. 

Outside was a few small barns, plus one expanisive barn also full of clutter to the point of hindering explorability.

Before leaving, I took one final look upstairs in the barn, although I didn't stop long because even the stairs up there were falling apart.

And that's Vanity House. A lot of the earlier blogs on this place show it in much neater condition, although still cluttered, and the front room has yet to become a gaping hole. So what happened to it? Did the few explorers it did recieve trash it? Did the owner ever return? It just seems that there's too much stuff of value in there for me to believe that the place was trashed by explorers. But then the photos being left there are another mystery. Why would anyone leave those?

Vanity House was a good find though- but its floors are falling apart, and the place is being consumed by mold. A few vicious storms and anything of value in there will be buried under rubble. If you are a respectful explorer and you find yourself in Vanity House, keep as much to the edge of the rooms as you can.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/shrewsburyfromwhereyouarenot), and also feel free to get in touch!


  1. I see all of the photos and the family bible that was left. It made me so very sad that no one has saved those and taken them to a genealogical society or historical society. They will be lost forever...

    1. Yeah, abandoned houses are very sad places to explore.