Saturday, 27 June 2015

The house nobody wants to talk about

There are some places in Shropshire where, if you subtracted the traffic and the teenagers glued to their iphones, one could easily imagine that they'd slipped through a time rift into the past. It was in one such historical village that I fell in deep smit with the local architecture, and one building in particular. The people here seemed really friendly too, and I found myself having lovely long conversations with many of the residents before setting off back to Shrewsbury, to return to mundane existence of TV and procrastination.

I turned the TV on, and watched intently from the ugliest, yet most comfortable armchair in the world. I found the television confusing. I couldn't immediately tell if the person on TV was Vincent Price or Basil Brush. It turned out to be some bizarre combination of the two called Bruce Forsyth. 
Then I decided I'd had enough of mundane existence. I'm an explorer, dammit, and there's a place that needs exploring!

Remember guys, I don't force entry, steal, vandalize, disclose locations or methods of access, and I use a camera that has difficulty focusing in the dark, so apologies for the awful quality.

Quite unusual about this, in contrast to the villagers friendliness and approachability, nobody wanted to talk about this place. I did manage to gain vague details, someone mentioned a family feud. Someone mentioned that the family who lived here allegedly had a history of drink and misery. But nobody wanted to elaborate.

What I did learn for sure was that this building was once occupied by a Shropshire reverend, who was born in 1866. Quite when he occupied the house in Shropshire is uncertain, as he was educated in Cambridge, and later became Dean of Norwich in 1938, so his activities are not that Shropshire-related. But shortly after he was ordained in 1897 he came to Shropshire and lived here for a while, and was the curate of the local church. He also wrote an architectural account of the churches of Shropshire. He died in 1957.

The more recent history was vague and I had to piece it together from tidbits. The house seems to have been occupied by a couple, and their daughter. Allegedly there was, in the late 20th Century, a dispute between the owner and then council over a planning application. The house was falling into disrepair, and the owner allegedly wanted to build a new house, and then use that house to finance the restoration of the old house, but the council refused. The dispute dragged on for years, and ultimately the owner decided to just abandon it. It rotted away for a few years. Some tales say the owner died, but not everyone agrees. The owners daughter, and her partner, were allegedly squatting in it for some time while it was derelict until she died, relatively young. Stories conflict over whether she was a barmaid or a nurse... quite the leap, but not a plothole that can't be filled. Maybe she was a barmaid with aspirations to become a nurse? I don't know. Nobody wanted to elaborate, so I'm woefully sorry if I have any of the details wrong and it offends the people who knew her.

Which brings me to the realization of exactly why nobody wanted to talk about it- All this was comparatively recent, and in a small village where everybody knows each other, so the subject was still a sore one. The houses level of rot had decieved me, making me think it was abandoned for much longer, on a similar time scale to Calcott Hall, but the lady was allegedly squatting in it until the late nineties / early naughties, again with vague dates but still in recent memory. It is understandable that people don't want to talk about it if it's still a sore subject. But it does mean that all I can do is hope I get the details somewhat accurate and avoid saying anything is outright fact, which is why if you've taken a shot for every time I've used the word "allegedly" you'll be getting reasonably tipsy by this point. So please accept my apologies if I get anything wrong.  I don't want to rub people the wrong way for the sake of a story.

The last definitive information about the place was that it was boarded up by the council in 2011, which I confirmed by reading council minutes. The full details will remain a mystery, but allegedly she had no living relatives, and as such nobody inherited the property, and it's been left to rot. 

Of course, the lack of relatives conflicts with the presence of this...

At some point there were kids here... I guess this could have been the womans own toy, retained from when she was younger, but thats a stretch.

I checked out the shed, and discovered that it had actually once led into the house via a bricked up archway. The shed also contained plenty of other artifacts.

Moving into the house,starting at the front door. The hallway was central and as such, there were two doors to either side of the front door, stairs in the middle of the hallway, and then a door at the back to other parts of the ground floor. Thinking on it, its layout was actually very similar to the Burnt House.

Interestingly, unlike Calcott Hall, this place seems to be rather off the radar, and has yet to suffer from waves of pillagers and vandals. Calcott Hall, while being a great place, was far too ransacked and altered to retain as much value as it would have done when it was first discovered. This place has in similarities with Vanity House, which in spite of being trashed, retains its legitimacy.

This record was a surprising find. If you cannot read the record at this size, click it to see it big. 

Turning left from the front door, the first room was quite large and extensive. There were two connected rooms, with two fireplaces, and the boarded up windows made it seem remarkably cavernous.

The lounge to the right of the front door was smaller, and full of old furniture. In spite of the clutter, the bookshelves, the pictures that once hung on the walls, and the childrens toys meant that this room still somehow retained its homely vibe.

The Shropshire Star is dated 1997, which is a great time reference for when this place was lived in. 

Progressing onwards through the building, there was, to the back left of the hallway, a third room that also seemed oddly homely with its fireplace design below a wooden wall, with old candle holders. . 

The hallway also progressed to the kitchen.

Check out this epic door. This is a cupboard, but it sure goes to show the architectural style of the place. This house is lovely. 

In the cupboard there was an ironing board. 

This door led to a little ground floor bathroom.

The house had two staircases, one of which was in very bad shape. The second one had a weak bottom step but was otherwise sturdy. For anyone out there who finds this place- I don't condone what I do, and I am a staggeringly inefficient role model. But if you decide to do as I do, and go upstairs, take the curved ones, not the set in the hallway!

It wasn't until I ventured into the cellar that I found out just how weak the hallway stairs are! The entire underside of these stairs is falling away.

 The cellar steps were made of stone though, so I felt safe on them, providing the higher stairs didn't collapse on my head!

But look at this cellar! The flooring is lower than the top of that bricked up window, indicative that the flooring itself is newer than the original architecture. And of course, what cellar would be complete without a bricked up arch that looks suspiciously like a door?

Going upstairs, there were more artifacts. In time, these will be completely cut off from the world, once the stairs collapse and it becomes inaccessible.

 There were two bedrooms above the two connected rooms downstairs, and I found them to contain a solitary mattress alongside a very eccentric bedroom design. These rooms each contained a fireplace in between a toilet and sink and quite frankly I've never seen a house, abandoned or otherwise, share this style.

This wardrobe lay on its side. Most of its clothes appear to be in the toilet.

Seriously, I've never seen a bedroom with a toilet and sink next to a fireplace, but this was apparently a theme for this house.

A third bedroom greeted me with some friendly vandalism.

But when I got to it, and turned to face the direction I'd come from, the graffiti got a little creepier.

Interestingly, some Job Center forms were adhered to the wall with the same paint that had been used to write on these walls, Was someone venting their frustrations at the degrading experience of dealing with the job center?

This room had some old light switches, which were a nice touch. 

This room, rather than having bathroom facilities inside it, simply had a rear door leading to a singular, separate bathroom.Although this one had two sinks... maybe one was moved in here from the green bedroom.

Two smaller rooms remained- one containing a lovely looking rocking chair and a sink, and the other containing red curtains and another record... I tried to go over to that record, and as soon as I did, the floorboard sank beneath my feet, causing me to step backwards onto safer ground. This room wasn't going to hold my weight.  

And that appears to be that. As I often find in places like this, I don't want to leave, even though I've explored every room. This house is an amazing find, on par with Vanity House. As I said, unlike Calcott Hall, both houses have much more legitimacy behind their condition, simply because they're off the radar, whereas Calcott Hall has been revealed to the world by mainstream media and exposed to decades of pillagers. 
And this place is, of course, more fun to explore than the Milk Cottage. I'd love to return here with a decent DSLR someday, and you can help towards this by donating money to this through the Camera Fund button in the top right hand corner. All donations will go towards getting photographic equipment so that I can make this blog heaps better. I work for pittance and save what I can, but I'd love to speed the process up since so many locations are temporary. This house might not be as explorable or even accessible in the future. 

If you can't spare any money, that's fine too, but feel free to add me on various social media. 


And if you do have any information about this property or any of the others featured here, please get in touch. In fact get in touch anyway. People are awesome.

That's all for now, but the adventure continues...