Shoreham Cement Works.

January 2016

Shoreham Cement Works.

Grwych Castle.

August 2015

Grwych Castle.

Furhouse Manor.

December 2012

Furhouse Manor.

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Nearly four years ago a friend and I explored and photographed a small portion of the famed Hellingly Insane Asylum:  a sixty-five acre hospital complex that had sat, rotting and abandoned, for a few decades in the English countryside just outside the aptly-named town of Hellingly.  Even as far back as four years ago the demolition had already begun on this gorgeous derelict facility, so when our trip to Herstmonceux Castle yesterday took us right by Hellingly, we didn’t expect to find anything left standing when we popped in for a look.

The acres of land that once housed tuberculosis wards and insanity blocks have since been built up with new construction, the houses utilising the very bricks salvaged from demolition.   At the far back of the generic neighbourhood, past all the houses that look exactly the same, only two partial structures of this once-grand hospital are still standing, being torn down as the houses are built up, quite literally, across the street.   There exists a sort of eerie juxtaposition on those streets: houses with welcome mats and families already moved in and, directly across, buildings whose walls must’ve heard the screams of hundreds of patients.

It’s sad to see such a beautiful abandoned structure be torn down, especially since I would’ve loved to have the chance to photograph it once more, utilising what I’ve learned these past four years to bring the place more justice with my shots, but at the end of the day I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to see it when I did.

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Nothing quite like driving through the countryside and then BOOM! Urban exploring opportunity. Met the lady who owns the land, she was really nice about the fact I was poking around and gave me some history on the place. Her father-in-law had run this nursery back in the day for veg growing, and the nurseries fell into disrepair when the business closed. She said that it would cost a ton of money to have people come in and tear it all down so there they sit, slowly being consumed by the growth. Foxes and rabbits have made these their homes. In total, there were about a dozen separate nursery greenhouses, a few small brick buildings and a boiler house.


A more post-apocalyptic re-edit of the television shot from Furhouse Manor, inspired by Fallout 3.

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Before we left we had one more room to see, dubbed “the green room” by other explorers, for obvious reasons.  Getting into it was a bit of a pain, as we had to inch our way along the edge of a giant hole in the floor in the foyer in order to get through the door.  This room didn’t have as much clutter lying around as the others, and was one of the better preserved rooms.  We found more newspapers, more pictures of cows, a small toy model of the Titanic, an old cheque book, and most interestingly a certificate of baptism dated Christmas Day, 1938.   The furniture in this room is in amazing shape, the cushions on the chairs still firm and comfortable.  Next to the fireplace are a number of walking canes, all in perfect shape and planted in the most bizarre cane holder with a monkey on it.   The TV is not a part of the green room, but is found upstairs and doesn’t fit with any of the photo sets.  The last shot is a partial view of the front of the house. We left the same way we came in, and the bull had laid down in his hay pile, his indifferent gaze following us as we left.

All in all? The experience of a lifetime!  I’ve been in love with derelict buildings for as long as I can remember, in awe of their grim beauty.  Whilst I’ve been on a few other urban exploring excursions, nothing has topped this manor… and I have a feeling nothing ever will.   This is a  jackpot, a rare and beautiful and awe inspiring find, one that has remained untouched by vandals and thieves, one that will hopefully remain standing for years to come so others, those brave enough to hop the fence and get past the bull, may appreciate this amazing house.

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After Alicja and I were done in the library we made our way back downstairs and into the music room, where we found a piano, a record player, and a pipe organ.  Like the other rooms we had seen, this one was littered with all sorts of things, from hats to candlesticks to old papers.   And, quite uniquely, lots and lots of pictures of cows.  The office is through the music room and out the back, where we found a desk stacked with books on animal husbandry, logs of cattle breeding, pocket-sized guides on milk pasteurization, and letters of correspondence.  Photos of cows were everywhere.  The original owner bred many types of cattle, including the Aberdeen Angus, the breed to which our lovely “guard bull” out front present day belongs.

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