Hey guys! Firstly, a lot of people have been asking me what Operation Cobra is that I've been referring to on Instagram. Right now I'm having fun being all elusive because it means my inbox is getting a little something other than "Where are the knights templar caves?" Seriously. And it wasn't even my name in the papers but my disclaimer, that thing at the top of the blog that says I don't spill the beans, gets misread more than feminism gets misrepresented. So today I'll tell you where you can find the caves. Click here, and it will take you straight to them. Heh.
Secondly, they're not Knights Templar. It's a Victorian folly thats been used by Pagans and cults over the last 150 years. Sorry to pee on the picnic. I neglected to say that in the original blog posts because I didn't know, but I did say that the originator of the Knights Templar thing was the Daily Mail, so really finding out that the Knights Templar thing isn't true should surprise absolutely nobody.
Meanwhile, now that I'm done digressing, Operation Cobra has been added to the blog backlog. It was a ginormous adventure, and a complete success.
But I have something else for you in the meantime.
Quick disclaimer on todays blog. Some of the pictures may depict graffiti and other such things of an adult nature, including illegal, intoxicating substances, bad language, and that thing people do where they shoot their DNA into each other. So if you're a child, please don't ask your parents what some of these words mean! You'll get me in trouble!
I joke. In all seriousness, the content won't be for everyone. If you're the kind of person who is distressed by this sort of thing, maybe you should instead check out my other blog posts, like the one about those famous knights templar caves, or that thing I do that according to the local media makes me worse than Hitler.
Todays adventure is unusual for me, because it has loads of personal ties to me. I've never been there in its glory days but I know at least seven people who have. I was lucky enough to hear about Chaos Manor from a young woman who used to live here, who very kindly showed me around and gave me the story of the place. Another of my friends was also in a music video that was filmed here. With so many connections, it was easy to research but such a minefield in regards to what I should and should not say.
Its this big beautiful mansion called Chaos Manor!
*Cue dramatic music*
From what I have been told, and keep in mind this is seriously abridged and subject to the opinions of my sources, Chaos Manor was lived in by a chap who had a business related to computers. He also wrote for a lot of magazines. He did well at first but had financial issues and the whole thing went kablooey. I've learned since that he never actually had any legal tenancy here. His daddy did, but Chaos Manor was purchased by some guy, and our resident son of the previous owner wasn't happy and decided to squat in the house where he grew up.
He also had a relative. Sources change the exact relation and also they change the gender, so let's just go with young relative. Anyway, this apparently gender-swapping-depending-who-you-ask person must have been insanely popular because their family tie to the guy who has a mansion really paid off. Chaos Manor became the place to be. It started with a prom party for their school, but then it just began hosting party after party, and they just got bigger and bigger, attracting people from all over and involving intoxicating substances of every variety. From what I gather, with so many spare rooms, the main occupier did let his relative and their friends stay there for periods of time, to the extent that some even phrase it as "I lived there" rather than "I stayed there." And from what I can tell, even when there wasn't a party on they were living the dream. I mean how many teenagers can say that they lived in a mansion? These aren't rich kids. They just knew the right person.
Some people have said that the parties got out of hand. Some lament that they ever stopped. But eventually the parties reached such severity that the mansion itself became uninhabitable. We're talking destruction of Michael Bayblical proportions. And I think the police got involved too. Today it's a beautiful derelict mansion out in the Shropshire countryside that's almost completely missable from the road. Natures taking over and soon parts of it will be unaccessable. In fact, it's pretty much a few good thunderstorms away from being a pile of bricks. And this is why I often refer to the places I explore as sandcastles. This place won't be the same on a second visit.
Thats all that remains of the trampoline.
Sadly, I had been *gasp* rooftopping the night before. I'm such a miscreant, I know. When I go rooftopping I often shoot on manual focus, and as such the camera was still on manual focus when I went to Chaos Manor, and as such some of the photos are pretty damn blurry. I realised late into the adventure that this was happening and had a dash around to re-photograph everything, but several hundred photos in I couldn't remember what I had and hadn't shot. So excuse the mix of blurr and focus.
Make no mistake- Chaos Manor is dangerous to enter now. One could easily die here, as you shall see from the pictures. People use death as a means to warn me off doing things like this, to which I reply "Okay, so how would you like me to die?"
As one enters Chaos Manor, they're greeted by Cameron, and his little note on the other side of the fireplace that I didn't get a good shot of that says "We are watching you."
Sorry, Cameron, but in the 21st Century that's not scary anymore. I get caught on about ten cameras just nipping down the road to the shop. And when you write something intimidating, it gets ruined when you sign your name. And look, it's obviously the real name because he had second thoughts and crossed out his surname! If you want to be intimidating, sign it from someone scary, like Satan or Borris Johnson.
According to one of my sources, during a party a van showed up, and some people got out and stole all of the floorboards in this room, loaded them up into the van and drove away. Everyone was either too busy partying to notice, or too intoxicated to do anything.
It's nice to know that the missing floor isn't indicative of it collapsing though.
On the shelves there are still a lot of books and personal posessions.
Away from the smaller room, I'm told that the majority of the parties took place in the larger downstairs halls. And to be fair, these rooms are gorgeous even in their current condition.
This skeleton torso is apparently left over from a halloween party. Dangling down are some fairy lights that were strung up on the walls.
Allegedly all of the childrens toys in Chaos Manor were left over by the previous occupant. When Mr Business Running Guy came here and started holding questionably legal raves, no kids lived here. However the number of childrens toys you'll see in Chaos Manor is quite bizarre. Why they were left and why he didn't get rid of them is anyones guess, but really he's the one with the answers.
The hallway by the stairs was particularly pretty.
I'm told that the majority of graffiti was actually done during its rave years.
Although I heard from one of my informants that this doodle of a pig raping Father Christmas is new, and wasn't there back in the day.
The most ironic graffiti is the bright pink letters that say "Chaos Manor will never die!"
Before I go upstairs, I want to show the rest of the ground floor.
This room was apparently locked when the place was active. And it's not surprising. It's full of computer stuff! There are books on the shelves and computer hardware in the boxes.
Allegedly this sofa was in one of the upstairs bedrooms. I'm not sure how it got here.
The kitchen still has a few appliances.
There's even still food in the fridge!
I'm not quite sure why there's a wall hatch in this hallway.
The name of the place, Chaos Manor, written above the door. These stairs led up to smaller bedrooms, and I'm pretty sure that when it was first built, these rooms would have been the servants quarters. However I can't find much information on this place in its pre-rave years.
However, before I show the photos of upstairs, there's a pretty cavernous cellar.
There's also some unopened beer, although the use-by date on the can is 2003 so you understand, we were in no rush to take it.
Making our way upstairs...
The stairs to the top floor have started to collapse. But no worries! There's still plenty to see here!
This bedroom has loads of curtains hanging from the ceiling, mainly obscuring the cupboards.
Inside the cupboards are even more curtains. Allegedly these curtains came out during parties, and were used to hide these cupboards from any visitors. The cupboards, of course, contained any drugs that the residents happened to have on them. Exactly what kind of drugs? I never actually asked. I just find it funny that the drugs were protected but the entire floor of a whole room downstairs wasn't.
In regards to drugs, I personally have no interest. I don't want to do drugs. However I live in the town centre of Shrewsbury and this means putting up with a steady stream of loud drunks, fights, break-ups, and the occasional sexual assault thats made me have to get out of bed and get dressed just to save the poor girl because breaking up a rape attempt is kinda awkward if one does it naked. So in light of that, it seems odd to me that alcohol is a societal norm when it causes all this mayhem, but chilling out in your own home with a plant is somehow evil. Of course that opinion can't be held against all drugs but I think if someone isn't hurting anybody then what they do is their own business. Live and let live. I'd feel a bit hypocritical if I had zero tolerance for drugs, seeing as I like to drink.
Nobody I've spoken to seems to know who the people in the photo are. It seems that this, like the toys, predates this era of the buildings history.
This is apparently the Big Cheeses office. There's quite a lot still here.
There's this diagram doodled on the wall there that was apparently drawn during a big political discussion. The Big Cheese was apparently quite opinionated. In fact from what I've heard, to say that he was conservative is a bit like calling a thunderstorm a mild drizzle. Having said that, I'm surprised that the swastika is drawn backwards.
There's a plush Mr Men character on the shelves.
And another photo of unidentified people.
I think this is one of those weird clip-on tails.
This bathroom shows signs of former refinery. The things that have been left behind are quite surprising.
On this floor, people would allegedly see an aparition, known to the occupiers as the Grey Lady. Reports of her appearance are all pretty similar. Shes wearing a grey full-length dress, and she has long grey hair. She walks along the hallway with her head down to avoid eye contact, and gives off a negative vibe.
I didn't see anything, but I know people who have. I'm not sure what I think of ghosts, but it makes sense that a former resident of this places rich past would be angry at it being trashed by repeated parties.
There's still a huge number of personal items in this bedroom too.
The little toy oven is just another of the mystery toys.
The Macbook box is a surprise. My informants tell me that the guy who lived here hated Apple.
On the walls and desk of this wall are loads of little scribbles of wisdom, and I'm able to put a date to some of it. It's actually quite surreal to me because I can put names and faces to some of the people who wrote all of this.
This verse is from Shakespeare. It's about Hermia sneaking away from home so that she can get married in freedom from her oppressive father, who wants her to marry someone else. I guess in a weird way, with these teenagers coming here, staying here, and ultimately having freedom that their parents probably wouldn't be so lenient on, it's an interesting metaphor. Whether it was written with that intent is another story.
This room was called the Poo Room, so called because the Big Cheeses dogs used to live here and weren't exactly the sorts to use the toilet.
And in all likelihood neither were some of the people who attended these parties.
I guess when you have a mansion, even the dogs get a bedroom.
Interestingly, the toy mystery comes to an odd conclusion with the reveal of an entire flat connected to the mansion.
Allegedly this area was always locked when the parties were on, and none of the people who stayed here ever ventured in either. Some have speculated that this was where the Big Cheese himself lived, but there's conflicting information.
That there is the Star of David with an inverted cross in it. Oh dear. Was that meant to be a pentagram? Satan is rolling in his grave. Backwards swastikas and now this. They just dont make young rebelious anarchists like they used to.
What separates this area from the others is that it has its own little mini kitchen and bathroom. However as you can see, much of the kitchen is now unuseable.
Lots of stuff left in the cabinet. In fact this part of the mansion seemed the most preserved in terms of personal belongings. But the weirdest is yet to come. The flat seems to have a nursery.
I can't be the only one who finds this a little weird. The house is lived in by one guy and his teenage relative and her friends. He holds a series of raves, and all this stuff is just left up here behind a locked door. It's very strange.
As to the age and genre of the children these toys are aimed at, that changes too. In the background a white display board has a list of pet name ideas.
It seems this doll forgot that the party had finished.
The ceiling was a work of art.
Very weird. Onto the top floor...
Since the main stairs are out of order, I could only access the top floor via the back stairs in what I believed to be the servants quarter.
The floorboards got mighty weak up on the top levels, and I had to tread very carefully. A lot of this could be blamed on the wood rotting since the roof started leaking. And indeed, Chaos Manor was very leaky. But allegedly it started falling apart when the parties were still being held, and from what I've heard there was a definite attitude of apathy from the Big Cheese. One story goes that people were chilling out in the office when they all heard a huge crash. Some of the teen residents went to see what it was and reported back that some of the ceiling had collapsed, to which the Big Cheese replied "Oh well, it can't fall again."
Proceeding with caution, I realised that in these top floors, I should really keep to the edge of the rooms.
Allegedly this room was frequently stayed in by a young couple.
I'm told that this might even be theirs, left over after all this time. It's a bit icky but on the plus side, at least they're being safe!
Of all the rooms, this one had the most wall scribbles.
This room has curtains instead of a door.
Apparently the sofa from downstairs came from this room, and the big England flag was hung towards the end of Chaos Manors glory days.
The next room is called the Sex Room. It's written above the doorway and everything.
Scribbles on the door warn of the floor being unsafe. And indeed, it has seen better days. I guess the sex was spectacular.
This room was obviously a childs room once, long before the house became known as Chaos Manor. But now it's got a large amount of graffiti. One wonders how the kid who once slept in this room would react if they saw what a mess their old bedroom was. I also wonder how they ever got any sleep. Those clowns are creepy.
This swastika is the right away around. What, doesn't your sex room have Nazi symbols decorating it?
Just in case you're in the sex room and you have difficulty getting turned on, the name "Rory" is written everywhere just so that you can think of all the other people who were in this room before you. That totally floats my boat! But if you need any more help, there are also oddly graphic drawings of male genitalia everywhere.
Here's a bedroom that still has beds in it.
And of course, the view from this top landing is quite spectacular. It looks down on the rest of Chaos Manor. And it has its own little collection of plant life growing here. It seems that with the leaky roof, and window ceiling, a sufficient amount of sunlight and water get in to allow plants to grow.
There's a chess set lying amongst the wreckage.
This room felt far too weak so I kept to the edges. There's some nice art work on the back wall there.
But by far the oddest part of this room was how it connected to the next room.
So here's the next room. It's teeny.
But look, there was a door to the other room, but at some point it's been walled up, only to be forced open again. Someone did mention that Chaos Manor had the occasional secret doorway. Could this be one such example?
This sign hangs on the bathroom door.
This bathroom was probably really nice once. Apparently that shower was the best shower in the world, according to the people I've spoken to who have used it.
The bath has apparently been moved since the place was being lived in, no doubt so that thieves could take the piping.
Sure is funny that the shampoo and the toothbrush are still there though.
The toilet is still in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.
Come to think of it, the drugs that were taken in Chaos Manor were probably safer than some of the stuff that gets slipped into drinks in some pubs and clubs.
This "Do Not Enter" sign is apparently on the door of the bedroom that belonged to the Big Cheese himself. Let's take a peek inside!
Well there's grass growing here. In a few years, assuming it hasn't fallen through, it'll look like a field.
There's a game of Risk hidden away.
But that appears to be it for the interior. Onto the back yard!
A lot of the posessions in the house has been chucked out here, as if someone was preparing to empty the house but gave up.
As you can see, it was getting dark by the time I finished exploring this place.
Junk is piled up in every nook and cranny.
Oh wow, is that Jumanji?
Someones lost a bike helmet.
Most of the out houses were a bit dull.
Apparently, this here is the remains of a computer called Herbie. Herbie is actually quite a genius contraption. It could control every single electrical appliance in the entire house. Often this was used to shut down parties if the Big Cheese thought that they'd gone on for too long.
There are some stone steps leading up to another little flat. Those accompanying me around Chaos Manor said that the occupant of this little area was quite clearly growing pot, but I wouldn't know what to look for, being one who doesn't do the stuff.
It's quite a nifty little two-roomed flat up here.
Onto the last of the out buildings, this one clearly had some sort of business purpose. It was littered with computer-related stuff, including hardware and also software disks still in their cases.
These are actually the most intact stairs in the entirety of Chaos Manor. Above the stairs is a sign that says "Computer Shopper." I think this is the magazine that the Big Cheese either founded or wrote for. The website for Computer Shopper indicates it's still doing well but the former occupant of Chaos Manor isn't among their listed staff members.
Upstairs is an office. Didn't we already see one office? How many does he want? I guess when one has a great big mansion, one can have multiple offices. This one seems a little more relaxed than the other one, with sofas and games.
It's got a good view, overlooking the yard of Chaos Manor.
There was also an attic which I peeked inside. There's a stuffed penguin up there.
And finally, with it getting kinda late, we left through the back gate. Interestingly the door has been replaced with a perfectly lockable wooden board. But beyond this point, there's still a load of old posessions strewn around.
It really looks like someone started clearing the place out and then gave up.
But that's it for Chaos Manor.
As a building, it's beautiful. It's history is perhaps controversial. It's future is bleak. It would be fantastic to see it fixed up and put back to good use but that would cost a bomb, and the longer its left, the worse it will become. As a lover of architecture I am sad to see this building trashed by a series of parties, but then perhaps my opinion is unfairly biased. Really it's none of my business what anyone does with their home. The kind of parties that were held here aren't my thing, but that doesn't mean a lot of people didn't have fun here. It's a massive memorial to a huge chunk of a lot of peoples lives. I think it's important to be open minded on this sort of thing.
Anyway, share this blog post on the social media of your choice, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I'd like to say a big, big thank you to all the people who helped with this blog post, whether you lived at Chaos Manor, partied at Chaos Manor or drove me to Chaos Manor. Enjoy the rest of your days and if you really want to make me happy, make sure someone else enjoys their day too. Every single one of us has the power to make someone else smile. Compliment them, hug them or take away their newspapers. It's very difficult to be happy AND read a newspaper.
Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!