Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Brogyntyn Hall

If any of you have been listening to BBC Radio Shropshire recently, you might have heard my annoying voice gracing the airwaves. Also interviewed was another blogger, Chelsea The Adventurer, a title she didn't come up with but sounds cool anyway. It was Chelsea's idea to put a nice big donate button labeled "Camera Fund" up in the corner of this blog, and thanks to a recent rise in fame I've finally managed to get enough donations to purchase a DSLR.

You know what that means??? Todays photographs will be in focus!!!

(And also I probably owe some people a drink, at the very least.)

And what magical location shall we visit? I took the camera out to Conduit Head to test it out, but even though There's a nice big mansion out in Oswestry thats been on my watchlist for some time. The mansions cellar was used for a secret military communications hub and also has big heavy doors and shower facilities reminiscent of a nuclear bunker. The upper floors boast fantastic architecture and rumoured secret passageways. And nobody seems to be able to agree on whether anything other than the exterior is still accessible.

With the company of my explorer buddy in Oswestry, we set out to show them all.

(LEGAL DISCLAIMER: As an explorer, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offence 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. )

Brogyntyn Hall can be traced back centuries. It was allegedly built by Napoleonic prisoners of war. The bricks are dated 1730, and has been modified throughout the 1800s. One of its fireplaces is allegedly carved in 1617, and there may even have been an earlier hall on the grounds where the current one now stands.

For decades, the hall was the residence of the Ormsby-Gore family, known best as the family from which the high ranking politician Baron Harlech originates. The first Baron Harlech, John Ormsby-Gore, was a conservative member of parliament from 1837 and he began representing Shropshire in 1859. He became Baron Harlech in 1876, and died in June of that year. As he had no sons, his brother William became the second Baron Harlech. William died in 1904, and was succeeded by his son, George. George commanded the Welsh Guards during the first world war, and was also a conservative MP and a freemason. He died in 1938 and was succeeded by his son, William, who was a high commissioner to South Africa during the second world war. His eldest son, Owen, predeceased him and so when William died in 1964, his second son David became Baron Harlech and ambassador to the United States.

David himself had inherited Brogyntyn Hall after World War II. It was his home. Here's an old photo I found on Google just to break up the wall of text a little.

The amount of connections from here on are quite interesting. David Ormsby-Gore's maternal great-grandfather was a prime minister. He himself was elected as a member of parliament for Oswestry in 1950. Among his best friends was President John F Kennedy, who actually visited his buddy David at Brogyntyn Hall, and David likewise often visited Kennedy at the White House. David's influence over Kennedy was also apparent, as he played a vital role in ensuring Britains views were considered during the Cuban Missile Crisis. David also helped secure the first test-ban treaty with Russia in 1963.

And naturally, due to his connections with President Kennedy, there are a few conspiracy theories concerning the demise of the family. Kennedy himself was assassinated in 1963, and Baron Harlech, in spite of being a pallbearer at the funeral, was at this time fighting rumours that he was having an affair with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy.

Davids wife, Lady Harlech then died in a car accident in 1967. The eldest son died of gunshot wounds in 1974, which were dismissed as a suicide. He would have been the successor to Baron Harlech had he outlived his dad. Lord Harlech did remarry in 1969 but he died in a car accident in Montford Bridge in 1985.
His daughter Alice, who was engaged to Eric Clapton, died of a heroin overdose in 1995, the day before her 43rd birthday.
Three of the offspring survived- Jane, Francis and Victoria. Jane herself is notable for being a former lover of Mick Jagger, and it is thought that the Rolling Stones song Lady Jane is about her.

Francis became Lord Harlech in 1985, and subsequently sold Brogyntyn Hall in 2001 to a local developer, who was seemingly interested in developing a retirement community in and around the hall. But nothing seems to have come of this, and the hall was put up for sale again in 2013, now in a terrible state of disrepair and half-finished maintenance.

So among famous and historical figures who have walked these halls, we have a lineage of Barons, President Kennedy, possibly Eric Clapton if Alice ever brought him home to meet the family, Mick Jagger depending on how serious things were with Jane, and most recently, that loveable miscreant who writes the increasingly inaccurately titled "Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not."

Let's slip inside!

Hmm... everything seems suspiciously generic.

And then we turned a corner and...


A secret bookcase door! This place has everything!

A mirror ball. I guess this room was a dance hall.

A wheely Bin occupied by rubber ducks!

The upper floors were very maze-like and while architecturally less photogenic than the ground floor, they were still filled with relics. Interestingly it was a blend of the old and the new. There was plenty of old fashioned, possibly antique, items and alongside them were things that were modern.

Some very interesting, grammatically correct vandalism. I checked room 214 out. Nobody was there. 

Most of the rooms looked like this, but there were plenty of large ones too. I'm not sure what the purpose of so many small, numbered rooms were. Maybe they were servant quarters.

These bells were dotted around. I don't know their purpose. 

 One of the coolest aspects of the upper floors was the fact that some doors in the hallway were locked, forcing us to gain access by opening windows and climbing up onto the roof, to go in through other windows. That and the constant twists and turns, blend of small rooms with large rooms, and stairways everywhere to little sub-levels wreaked havoc on my sense of direction. But I was determined to see everything.

Dotted around was builder graffiti. They'd left cute notes to each other, to explain what was wrong and what needed fixing. It was educational graffiti, and seemed to suggest that work on this place had been seriously postponed. It was almost as if someone had started work on this place, and just given up.

Room 215, belonging to Mr N.V Davies, was the only bedroom that was locked. Intrigued by what could possibly be hidden in N.V Davie's room, I went through the window of the room next top him, and took a peek inside his room.

Yeah, that was it. An empty room, save for the clock on the wall. Why is this room locked???

It looks like this place once hosted a wedding reception. Are any of these people reading this? 

We followed signs to a so-called Conference Room, where the architecture suddenly got inventive again.

The view from the roof was pretty spectacular. It had been raining when I'd entered the building,but now the sun was shining, and I could see Oswestry off in the distance. I was still standing amongst impressive architecture, surrounded by the buildings many large chimneys, and beneath me I could see the remains of the mansions garden.

I didn't really want to leave the roof.

There is a date written on the wall down there, which reads 1826, which is more recent than the initial construction and indicative that this particular chunk of the building was built later. This portion of the building housed the downstairs ladies toilets, where things got slightly weirder.

Yeah, I have no idea. Onto the cellar!

The cellar is a very fascinating place, as it was used as a secret communications hub during the cold war. It was vast and maze-like. Due to the political standing of Lord Harlech, some of the doors in the cellar are big, metal, and take a good shove to open, and it has shower and toilet facilities, and numbered rooms. It hasn't been outright confirmed that this is a nuclear bunker, but let's be honest, it's perfectly outfitted for use as a nuclear bunker, the place was a home to a high ranking politician during the cold war, who often had his bezzie JFK home to play. It's probably a nuclear bunker! And to my delight, all that cold war telecom equipment is still down there too!

In one fairly large room was a guestbook, but only one page had been written on.

An obvious kitchen / food court. 

The numbered toilet cubicles are an interesting touch. It's in both the ladies and the gents, and I see no reason for it. A toilet is a toilet, and one can see that there is four cubicles in the ladies and four cubicles in the gents. There is also exactly four sinks in each, the gents had a urinal fitted for four men. While toilet facilities aren't out of place at a workplace such as a communications hub, there were also two showers in each, although the ladies showers were removed, but one could see on the floor where they had been. This does support the bunker idea.

There's a typewriter by that window. Somehow I missed it. 

Emergency water supply. It's a goddamn bunker!

There was a generator.

And a delivery shute, which I was so tempted to slide down.

And that's all from Brogyntyn Mansion. It is probably one of the coolest places I have ever explored, and it really bugs me that as a youngster my friends and I actually hung out on the mansions grounds but never thought to check if the place was empty.

But I could not believe my eyes when I saw that hallway with the toy train in it. I didn't want to leave this place. Can you imagine how lame this place would have looked if I'd used my phone camera? Thank you to everyone who has donated. Everyone who did is invited to come on my return visits to various other places such as Tilstock and the knights templar grotto for better pictures.

And in the meantime, I have an open door policy on friendships so feel free to add me on Facebook-
You can also follow Shrewsburyfromwhereyouarenot on Instagram and also Urbexshropshire on Twitter.
Thank you for reading!
 Have a great day and stay awesome!


  1. Firstly I'm knicking your title for me - I really like it! ;) Thanks for the mention Mr. Secondly, this hall had been on my mind ever since we spoke about it ... Wow! The immaculate wooden toy suggests that someone perhaps in the family may have been back. I can't imagine a builder bringing his tot to work? Thirdly, those dolls and that 'we're here' is freaky but it's obvious someone's playing on the 'abandoned hall'.

    Awesome read - really like your style and humour.

    An abandoned mental hospital should be on your list...

    P.s well done on the photos ! Greatness starts with an idea... And a camera. ;)

  2. Wonderful pictures.

    There was a wedding here around 5 years ago, think they were both from London and worked in theatre. They used entrance of hall and had a marquee around the back for the food etc.

    1. Yeah, I did find the wedding guest list. It would have been great to see back in its heydey.

  3. I remember it being offices for British Telecom, around the mid eighties i think.

    1. It sure was cool seeing all the old telecom equipment still in the cellar.

  4. Yeah, when searching for wedding venue location for the party then always select best reception venue like wonderful Chicago event space and locations. It will make your day more unique and special to you as well as others.

  5. It would be cool to put a battery in the clock, and leave the ticking sound in the abandoned house . . .

  6. did you know the west wing has been given the go ahead to be demolished :(

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