Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Return to the Christmas House and chaotic interconnectedness

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. 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've never been to an abandoned house at night before, but over the winter months night time adventures have become fairly regular. Last year, Tree Surgeon and I traveled out to a ROC post and it was dark by the time we got there. Logically it shouldn't have made a difference, but emotionally it does. If you think climbing down a fifteen foot ladder into a bunker that hasn't been used for decades would give you the willies, try doing it in the dead of night. Personally I was all for camping out down there in spite of being reminded of that movie, The Hole, where we see Thora Birch dial 911 and still get through to the emergency services in spite of the film being set in Britain.

Otherwise, good film!

But back on topic, logically an abandoned house, whether furnished or not, should be less creepy than a hole in the ground. Not so! Check out Christmas House!

Since my last visit it's looking a lot less Christmassy, and the layout has changed. It's the sort of thing that takes away a lot of authenticity. On one hand that annoys me, but on the other it does make the adventure unique, even if I'm just retracing my steps. At the time of writing, it has probably changed again. For the Tree Surgeon, who wasn't my accomplice last summer, this was his first visit.

Also, while I re-explored Christmas House some weeks ago, I only sat down and started this article on Friday night, shortly before an unrelated trip away from Shropshire that actually ties into this adventure through a bizarre coincidence, even though it was far away in the opposite direction, and totally unrelated. This trip will feature on a future blog post, and it was the day of the Shropshire Bloggers walk around Ironbridge, so I unfortunately missed out on a long overdue reunion with Chelsea of "Loving Life In Wellies" who I gorge walked with last summer (which was featured on her blog) and Michael of "Moments with Mike" who actually came with me on my first visit to Calcott Hall, which was blogged about here. I do love a blogger crossover! You can also read Chelseas story of the Ironbridge walk that I couldn't attend here.

Now, my blog reaches four to five digit numbers, so I'm quite used to people in Shrewsbury knowing who I am, waving, smiling, and all that. On Sunday I went out to get a bite to eat, and checked my phone only to see a message on Facebook from someone I don't know saying "I just saw you in town. Where are you exploring tonight?" It's something that would have freaked me out two years ago but now I just assume the best and smile back, or in the case of the Facebook message, disappoint them with my mundane plans for the evening. But in a friendly, non-freaked out way. Come to think of it, there are loads of situations recently where I've considered what I would have done pre-life reboot, and I have to say I'm proud of my progress as a human being and a recovered cynic, but I digress. With people in Shrewsbury knowing who I am, I was quite excited to venture away from the nest, and be able to do a little anonymous exploring in a land where nobody knew who I was. And because the universe is weird like this, I met four unrelated people that day who knew who I was! That night I could be found standing on my roof shaking my fist at the heavens, shouting "Stop It!"
Well, that's a lie. I actually love it when stuff like this happens.
Of the people I met, one of them was a lovely young lady who is very into the whole "Urbex" thing.

For those of you who don't know, Urbex is an abreviated form of "Urban Exploration." Urbex is a word I stopped using for what I do because the only people I was attracting were grown ups in hoodies and face masks sticking their fingers up at the camera in selfies and writing the names of genitalia on walls. So I'm not an urbexer. I'm a blogger. An adventurer. A stuff-doer. I'll confess to being the secret lover of George Freakin' Bush, but please, disassociate me from the word Urbex!

So how does this lady tie into Christmas House?
Well she heard of me because she read my previous blog post on Christmas House, which she has a personal connection with. You see, she claims that it was her and her friend who decorated it in Christmas decorations back in Christmas 2014. Prior to that, it was a mostly untouched abandoned cottage that apparently still had the smoke alarms beeping when she found it. However once people found the cottage with the decorations up, word spread like wildfire of this mysterious place that had been abandoned after the owners died around Christmas time. It all became rather sensationalised, and now it's been rearranged and looted. But it's a pretty awesome coincidence that I just so happened to meet this person, far beyond my immediate sphere of easy-to-access locations, and she happened to have read my original blog post about the place I was currently doing a re-write of, which you are reading right now. I love it when life does this to me.

Now, this new information about Christmas House is just the story of someone I'd just met and may never meet again, but I felt inclined to believe her purely because there is so much sensationalisation around abandoned places, and it was a breath of fresh air just to hear something ordinary and boring that wasn't blown out of proportion. Calcott Hall, Vanity House, and Christmas House have all suffered this- The Vanity House owner was not "obsessed with the concept of time," but someone had simply collected all the clocks in the house and placed them on one surface together, and left them like that, and for some reason every explorer since has assumed that the place has been untouched since its original abandonment, and that things are as the owners left them. And regarding Calcott Hall, I've had locals from the area contact me with the true story of that place. While abandoned houses are shockingly common, and very creepy, more often than not the owners and occupants were ordinary humans like you and me. Well, maybe not me. And now I feel I know some answers to the mystery of Christmas House, or "Rin Tin Cottage" as it was originally nicknamed prior to its preparations for the festive season. Also, having given me a username to search, I have found her photos of this house in its pre-christmas makeover, dated June 2014. The house looks remarkably different in layout and in quantity of interior objects. There was also a distinct lack of a gaping hole in the wall connecting it to the building next door. The only thing that hasn't changed locations is the clock on the wall.

But Christmas House is still photogenic and very creepy. It's just had a lot of visitors.

Interestingly the cottage next door is also abandoned, and they seem to have a furniture swap thing going on, depending on whether a visiting photographer thinks something will look better in the other house. The bird cage, for example, was in the cellar next door on my last visit.

I, however, leave things as I find them.

Okay, so now I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I took the Quality Street from the cabinet for a photograph... I promise I put it back!

Interestingly the clock is mains powered. When did they stop producing those?

Curiously, there is this hole in the wall that has clearly been bashed through into the abandoned cottage next door. But looking at the frame work under the wallpaper, it's obvious that the two houses were once linked.

In the kitchen things were considerably more morbid.

Here in the drawer is the corpse of a bird, plus we get to see the tree surgeon there in frame.

There was a smaller room, untouched by Christmas, but presumably equally as looted.

There are two bedrooms upstairs, and no bathroom. These cottages show their age by having outthouses!

The landing had a yellow colour scheme that I personally would not have in my own home, but in this case it kinda added to the buildings character.

On my first visit here, there was a dead owl upstairs but now it seems to have been eaten or something.

This newspaper is dated 1970. They're inaccurate indicators of how long the place has been abandoned for, but it does give us a rough idea. I can't imagine anyone hanging on to old newspapers for this long.

You can see from this bedroom, which still contains the remains of a bed, how tiny these rooms were purely because of the roof shape. 

I always find myself imagining what it would have been like to live in the places I explore. It would look pretty nice if it was all fixed up, and actually a home for someone. Onto the garden...

 The out house is a bucket. Hmm...

Yep, still in better shape than some of the toilets I see in active pubs and bars!

Some furniture was out in the shed.

The greenhouse.

Onto the next door cottage! This was actually still being lived in as recently as 2011. I know this because that's the most recent shot of the place on Google Streetview, and it shows people hanging up laundry in their garden, and their home looks a lot cleaner. I'm not sure why their home was abandoned, but I've heard that it was because of a chimney fire, and there's certainly damage in the chimney to support that idea. I'm not sure if this particular one was furnished when it was abandoned, or even if the Christmas House was. Everything that's been left in either house has been swapped over at some point, most likely. I'm very curious about why Christmas House is the popular one. The one next door would be great for a photoshoot too!

 Here's where the hole in the wall comes through.

The kitchen had a small tray in the drawers, which we assembled for the sake of a photo. 

Upstairs was pretty but had some significant damage to the walls of the chimney.

And lastly there was the cellar, where the bird cage had been when I'd come here initially.

I guess all the people who re-arrange this place don't want to drag the table up the stairs.

In all honesty, I think abandoned houses are awesome enough without needing to be re-arranged or sensationalised with silly stories, but Christmas House sure makes for some great pictures and an amazing atmosphere. The cottages themselves are ancient and evidence in the cellar suggests that it's close to collapsing. It probably has a completely different interior layout at the time of writing.

Oddly enough, I hadn't checked the mailbox on my first journey here but upon spotting it, I learned the name of the former occupant and also the name of the house.

Guess what? It wasn't Christmas House!
It wasn't Rin Tin Cottage either. And it certainly wasn't anything too silly like, say, Dream House.

But names stick, I guess.

Meantime, I've been doing more actual adventures than blogging lately and I've got something of a backlog to work through. But at the same time I'm really excited to write about my recent adventures. So next time, I'll be beneath Shrewsbury once again, and then after that I'll write about my recent reasons for not being able to join the Shropshire Bloggers on their Ironbridge trek.
But I also have three or four blog posts that I want to get out as soon as the locations are no longer accessible, so you might see some of them injected into the blog flow.

But it's all going to be great. The adventure continues. In the meantime, you can actually see some of my recent explores that I have yet to blog about, as well as reminders of the old ones, if you follow me on Instagram. Also follow me on Twitter if you don't want to miss a blog post. And of course, remember to share this if you think it'll interest people.
Also, regarding my recent photo shoot in Laura's Tower that I recently blogged about, the photographer Giselle has recently done a video that shows some of the pictures she's taken of me and other people who got involved. It's a project that challenges perception on gender identity, and it's a project I'm totally supporting. When it comes to the subject of non-binary gender identity, I really think that a massive chunk of the world needs to grow the fuck up, and just learn to accept. Recently a woman got fired from KFC because she has a willy. Who cares? She's serving processed chicken, not making babies!
So this project "Same But Different" is quite thought provoking, in that it blurs the lines between gender. You can see the video presentation here.

Anyway, to all my readers, click the links to social media, and if you can spare some money for the Adventure Fund, please click the donate button up at the top. I'm getting between four to five digit numbered blog views these days and if every single one donated 2p, it would all make a difference collectively.
Although donations above 2p would be appreciated. All proceeds of course go to this blog.

But far more importantly is that you go out and make someone smile. Compliment a stranger, help someone out, turn someones bad day into a good one. Bonus points if you get a hug.

Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!

1 comment:

  1. An interesting write-up and photos. I went here in December and assumed it had been abandoned at Christmas. It's moved around a lot again since then, and the owl was still there. After I uploaded the photos another photographer pointed out the decorations were added after the place was abandoned. I agree with you - leave places as they were.