Plan A was a convent in Lancashire, which had been knocked down by the time we got there and replaced with fancy houses that stood empty because nobody could afford them.
Plan B was St Joseph’s seminary down the road. Opened in 1883, its grounds boast a large greenhouse, cemetery and gorgeous lake.
The building itself is riddled with cameras and alarms, and we staked it out for a long time.
There appeared to only be one security guard…
We crept up on him. Notice how he’s no longer in his chair. He’d somehow managed to creep up on us – literally about 25 ft away – without even spotting us. Amazing.
Eventually we just risked it and walking right past the cameras. Still nothing. All previous entries had been boarded up. It’s such a stunning building and we were desperate to get inside, but my climbing skills weren’t up to scratch. Here’s a report from someone who did make it in.
From then on, we were on the lookout for some TOADS (Temporary, Obsolete, Abandoned and Derelict Spaces).
We found an abandoned cottage near the car and went to investigate. The view was phenomenal and I got the obligatory corn field shot.
I even saw my first swede field! A swede, growing out of the ground! Day = made.
We scrambled across the overgrown garden to have a gander through the windows. What we saw was mostly furnished, which is my favourite kind of discovery. At first we wondered whether it was actually abandoned. Maybe someone just really hated gardening? No photos exist of the back garden, but the brambles were taller than us.
An adorable old lady came to greet us, excited at the porspect of someone finally moving in. She explained how many people had stopped to ask about the cottage over the years, which had once been owned by an old man with a “strange son” who died approximately 20 years ago.
On our way to an abandoned garden centre or Camelot we passed an abandoned mansion. Searching for a parking place, we were distracted by a high-walled bridge, and on peeking over the edge on our tippy-toas because we’re both short stuff, spotted an abandoned mill.
Upon further inspection it appeared impossible to reach, so we embarked on a mission to find an alternative route.
After half an hour’s clambering through plants taller than us and plenty of brambles (just for a change), as well as completing other obstacles, we were there. The mill looked beautiful alongside the river.
Although the door was wide open, our guards were up in case we encountered squatters. A poster suggested the place had been out of action for around a decade.
There was roll upon roll of herbal supplement stickers unravelling all over the floor, leading us to gather that the place had most recently been used as a factory.
We’re pretty sure we were the first people to rediscover this place. Although some buildings had suffered the general deterioration that occurs with lack of central heating and whatnot, there was no vandalism or graffiti and even the copper pipes remained intact. Exploring always gives me the heebie jeebies, so it was easier to relax knowing there was no security or anyone else here.
We found a pair of overalls and a cute woolly jumper on our travels…
Then we found a dead pigeon.
Although it was a brilliant find, despite the brambles, trying to find a way in is often the best part. Not so much out though. What I learned: it’s really scary climbing over a spiky fence that is alarmingly close to your vagina.
Back at the car it was getting dark, but we decided to quickly check out the abandoned mansion which we’d all but forgotten about. Unfortunately the phone had died we didn’t get photos.
On a huge plot of land, there was a winding driveway with an overgrown garden which was probably gorgeous way back when. The home’s architecture gave the place an Addams Family vibe.
Inside was little disappointing, having suffered extensive fire damage and vandalism. Most of the floors had collapsed.
However, some period features remained including arched windows, stone pillars and a carved staircase. What made the visit worthwhile, though, was a huge antique fireplace adorned with a carving depicting a ship at sea. Such a tragedy that only a cartoon enjoying a biffter was there to appreciate it full time.
Images by Phill Gaffney.