A lot of my readers have suddenly started asking me if I've noticed this particular derelict property, or if I'm ever going to explore it. In addition to this, someone completely unrelated posted on a Facebook group asking about it. I'm not sure why this place has been a focal point of Shropshire interest lately- it's been derelict for an undetermined number of decades, allegedly due to a fire, and any information on it has been scarce. But look at it! How could I not check this out?
I learned that the building is best known as Stoke Grange Farm, and that it was originally named Chesthill Grange, and that it dates back to the 13th Century when it was built by monks of Combermere Abbey. As a useful bit of trivia, "grange" is a word for a farm owned by a monastery, so while it's commonly referred to as Stoke Grange Farm today, a more accurate title would simply be Stoke Grange, but then the UK is full of names like this. I think Llanrhaeadr Waterfall may have something like that going on too, due to being on the Welsh/English border, but don't take my word on that.
Chesthill Grange was used centuries ago for rabbit farming. I have no idea when it made the transition to Stoke Grange or when it became derelict. It's not a listed building, and people seem to be under the impression that a fire obliterated the place in the 1960s. Plans to fix the place up were hindered by its proximity to a military base. This might not sound like a big deal. However, the cellar of the then-derelict Stoke Grange was used as a temporary lair by the IRA in 1989, when they bombed the nearby barracks.
Wow! Up until then the history of this place was all flowery and whimsical, with rabbit farming and monks, and then it just decided to slap the 20th Century in the face.
It was time for Shropshires miscreant adventurer to take a look.
(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. )
I initially went straight to the cellar down this lovely precarious stairway to darkness, but before I show those photographs, I want to show off the ground floor.
Already, there's a blocked up doorway, which indicates numerous
modifications done to the place in the past, as anyone can expect from
places several hundred years old.
I just love how photogenic this place is. I honestly did not want to leave!
And I'm loving all the retro appliances, the floor pattern, the eccentric fireplace design. It's such an awesome place!
As you can see, the stairs up to the upper floors were almost completely gone.
I did find one staircase that still had the stairs intact, but just look at the angle of those steps. This thing is just one fourteen-stone explorer away from being rubble on the floor.
But what did it matter? The upper floor was partly wreckage around my feet anyway and through the ceiling I could see the off-limits upper floor, as well as a ruined stairway to an even more off-limits upperer (?) floor.
So what's up there? I love the mystery, and in spite of the fact that downstairs is pretty bare, if a fire did destroy this house, it's quite possible a lot of the old belongings simply couldn't be retrieved from the higher floors. Who knows, maybe someday a grand piano will come crashing through the rotting floorboards.
But while I felt deprived of an adventure upwards, except maybe to Heaven should I attempt such a thing, the cellar was cavernous and fun. Check out the stairs though! It's pratically a slope.
Damn those IRA vandals, scribbling naughty words on the walls!
In all honesty, it is surreal to think that this place was once a lair for some IRA bombers two years before I was born. It is a shame that the upper floors were unreachable, but what I could find was still photogenic. Stoke Grange is a magnificent building and it would have been impressive to see it in its glory days. If anyone does have any information or memories from this place, or anywhere else I've writen about, feel free to get in touch, either in the comments or on social media. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr too. Find me, add me, we'll be buddies.
In the meantime, if there's any part of Shropshire thats secret, forgotten, or abandoned
that I have no desire to see, it's only because I already have.
Thanks for reading.