As a rule, I don't generally interact with Urban Explorers except on rare occasions. Why? Because sometimes they can be really silly. Some of them get really aggressive when someone who isn't them goes into an abandoned place and then posts photos of it on the internet. But rather than go over all the stories regarding my negative experiences with people, and (this is the important bit) rather than interact with people who are detrimental to my excellent life, I'm far more content to just get on with it.
One thing I have found is that when it comes to permission explores, landowners get very angry and suspicious when one refers to themselves as an Urban Explorer, which is why I don't use the term on myself. I mean why would I? If thats the reputation that it has, I might be better off getting a big tattoo that says "SYPHILIS" across my forehead.
Now, I'm not a huge fan of generalisations even though I'm guilty of them- Not all people who say that they are Urban Explorers are bad. Just enough of them. But I follow a few on Instagram, if they go to places near me, because that can be a good way to get new ideas of places to blog about. If I come to the conclusion that they aren't awful people, I'll maybe leave a comment. And if I end up right about them not being awful, sometimes I get a few nice ideas and collaborations.
Recently Raptor and I, along with three Urban Explorers, undercover as a horsebox repair service, went out to the countryside to check this house out.
This place hasn't reached Calcott Hall infamy, or even Christmas House, but it is known to urban explorers as The A R House, due to those letters being written on a trunk in the hallway. Newcomers to this blog will be disappointed to know that this is not in Shrewsbury and my blog title is a massive inaccuracy, but long time readers will have been experiencing this inaccuracy since February 2014 when I did some rooftopping in Oswestry, and don't seem to care.
Out here in the countryside, we came across these little exhibitionists.
I was going to make a pun about Frogs Porn, but apparently these are toads. The male toad might seem diddy compared to the larger female toad, but all female toads are plumper than the men.
I know, I know. Tumblr is going to hate me for such a sweeping generalisation. It's about time someone called me out on my size privilege.
There's probably a buzzfeed article about how I'm proof that white men shouldn't be allowed to vote in the works already.
But back to the house.
The A R House is on farm land, with its surrounding ruins occupied by sheep.
I can't find a lot on its history, and as such I dont know why its abandoned. It's likely that the owner has passed away and there has been no family to inherit it, which is really sad. The sensitive nature of finding a house like this means I don't have any respect for anyone who vandalises or loots abandoned houses. These are essentially memorials to an entire life. You wouldn't smash a gravestone. If you would, you're sick. But in my opinion, if someone leaves behind an abandoned house full of their posessions, this is little more than an incredibly interesting gravestone.
Circling the building, I took a couple of photos of the overgrown yard, and the exterior toilet, which was likely once the only toilet since toilets inside a house are a relatively modern thing.
It's still in better condition than some of the toilets in pubs and clubs.
And now it's time to slip inside! (The house, not the toilet.)
As you can see, the door is wide open and brought us into this cluttered kitchen that has seen better days.
The cupboards and drawers are still full of cutlery, plates, and expired food.
There's no fridge, which means the property probably had an ice house. There is, behind all that clutter, a cellar door. The kitchen was very dark, and it's been lit up by the camera flash, and sadly none of us saw the cellar. In hindsight its pretty stupid of us, given that there was an external door to the cellar too. Maybe the fridge was down there...
There are some really steep stairs in the kitchen that oddly come out in a tiny bedroom. But before we head upstairs, lets look at the lower floor.
Here's the trunk containing the letters A R from which this house gets its nickname. When I did research its history, I was able to find its correct name, and from that learned that the farmer who lived here in 1914 was heavily fined for lying about his health to get out of serving in the first world war. According to the newspaper report "it was impossible to make him hear, he was mentally affected, and was not responsible and could not be trusted in any way." The article goes on to say "He came into the office with every appearance of being an idiot and could not hear anything that was said to him. The lad was removed to another room where he laid himself on the floor and generally behaved like one not in the right mind."
This is a hilarious story, because stories like this are not uncommon, where people pretended to be crazy to avoid fighting in the war, but we only really see them in a fictional setting, like Blackadder, which had a humourous take on the war. Its funny to see that this sort of thing actually happened.
Or perhaps its a testimony to just how horrific that war was that it drove people to such extreme measures.
On the trunk was a remembrance card for a man who died in 1926 at the age of 66. This lady would have been 54 in 1914 when the young man got fined. Perhaps they were related.
The house had two other ground floor rooms, one being a lounge and the other presumably being a dining room, containing a piano.
The clutter, trash and decay totally clashes with the random asorted ornaments still sitting where the owners left them.
There's a blocked up door which would have once led outside.
And of course, there was the piano, still with sheet music ready to be played.
On the piano was a note, giving instructions for eye drops.
On the piano is this book, conveniently propped up for a photo opportunity almost as if the owners knew that someone would come here and take this photo, or more likely left behind from a photoshoot from previous trespassers. It has nothing to do with music, this book, but it was an interesting personal coincidence since I do know a singer whose surname is Cassells.
The lounge meanwhile was still fully furnished.
The presence of this doll indicates that children once lived here, although the fact that there arent more toys indicates that it wasn't recent. Perhaps they grew up and moved away prior to the houses abandonment.
The headlessness gives it a certain eerie feeling.
And on the fireplace is this curious statue of a hand, missing a finger.
At the back of the lounge is some marmalade.
Here's a letter dated 1972, which is about entry to a summer sale where the owner apparently sold some farm animals.
There's also a tiny little pantry area, still containing contents.
This is a mangle, which was used in the times before washing machines and dryers, when it was all done by hand. It was used to squeeze all of the liquid out of a garment after it had been washed.
There were some stairs in the hallway leading up to the bedrooms and bathroom.
They're particularly unsafe due to the fact that the top portion of the stairs has collapsed. The weakest steps were at the top, meaning that gradually over time, the upstairs portion of this house will become harder to access until it can no longer be accessed at all.
But luckily, we could access it. Lets see what we have here.
The bathroom is the closest door to the fireplace. We'll look at that in a moment. But first...
That there is a goddamn bat! An actual living, sleeping, bat. I've never been so close to one before, except in those brief night time strolls where they zoom past. They dont count, because one doesn't get a good look at them. But this, seeing an actual bat roosting, is something rare and special. I love the fact that the crack its hanging from is actually tiny, but somehow its gotten a firm grip.
I proceeded with caution, not wanting to disturb the bat. It's still daytime and the bat should stay asleep, but when I explored Pitchford Hall, that was during the day too, and while I was exploring the attic, I was letting my camera take shots using the flash, and in one of those photos there is a bat caught mid-flight that I was totally unaware of at the time. So they are nocturnal, but they can be disturbed by camera flashes and noise.
I could have possibly gotten a closer shot of this bat, but not wanting to disturb it, I left it alone.
Apparently the UK actually only has two types of bat that hang upside down, even though bats are classically depicted that way. A lot of bats actually cling to walls with their feet and upper limbs. The two bats are called the Greater Horseshoe bat, which is larger and more rare, and the Lesser Horseshoe Bat. In spite of the names giving a rough idea of the size, I can't be certain if that bat is the Greater or Lesser, since even the Greaters are diddy.
If anyone knows for sure, let me know!
Making my way around upstairs, I found a lot of furniture in the hallway. It's almost as if people were preparing to move out, but then stopped and gave up.
Heres a vintage Gillette Razor, but I'm more curious about why certain letters in that book have been circled.
Here's a shotgun license. The weapon itself was absent.
The bathroom was a mess, but it's still in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.
Onto the bedrooms...
The first bedroom still had quite a lot left over.
The bottle on the fireplace was probably left by a previous trespasser.
On the chair was a page from a book, and a letter for Miss Williams. It's perhaps worth noting that the lady who lived here wasn't married. This wouldn't be unusual today, but several decades ago marriage was a lot more important. And I don't mean to sound sexist but the era when this house was presumably occupied was an era where gender equality still had a long way to go. Men were still the earners and women were still the housewives, and one would also assume for the era that a woman living with a man was married. But I'm in enough trouble with Tumblr and Buzzfeed as it is, so I'll stop digging myself a hole now.
The second bedroom had another large bed, and a dressing table.
The presence of a filing cabinet in this room made me wonder if this was the bedroom of the farms big cheese, since a filing cabinet implies that the person who slept here had paperwork to organise. It makes me wonder if the note to "Miss Williams" was addressed to a daugter, seeing as it was in a separate bedroom.
This copy of Newsweek is dated 1961.
Here's a birthday message for Mary.
There's a third, smaller bedroom. This one had the tiny stairs that led down into the kitchen, which is an interesting architectural bit.
There's a corset here too.
Moving outside, I was drawn to a cabin at the back of the house, because its been fixed up. The stonework is old but the beams are modern. It's as if the landowner is putting money gradually into fixing this place up, and has started with the cabin.
The fireplace at the back had a lovely treat for me.
It's another bat!!! And this time I was a lot closer to it, and so the camera can make out all of the details. Isn't this awesome?
Anyway, thats all I have for today.
I am doing another fundraiser. This one is for a local care home for learning disabilities, which has requested appropriate activities for its residents only to be shot down by inadequate funding (Vote Tory!) and as such, some of the staff have come to me for help, since my last fundraiser was so successful. I said I'll do what I can. Learning disabilities is something I am passionate about, and I feel strongly that in the 21st Century, more could be done to make the lives of these sort of people better. I mean sure, the funding keeps them alive and meets their health needs, but I think that people have happiness needs too, and that these needs are often not met due to inadequate funding. But having said that, I do believe that we, the people, can stick a middle finger up at our shit government by helping each other when they won't help us. People with learning disabilities can't always do what we do, but we can help them to have an enjoyable life.
If this is something you want to help with, go to my fundraiser page here.
Once I get the money, I will order to product and give it to the care home myself.
As always don't forget to check out my social media, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Please share this blog post wherever you want, and most important of all, make someone happy. We each have the power to decide if someone has a good day or a bad day. If the rich and the powerful acknowledged this, the world would be a better place. But it's up to us, the little people, to help make each other happy, so go turn someones day around.
Thanks for reading! Stay awesome!