Saturday 19 September 2015

Crookham Manor

Crookham House from the back.

This place has a bad past, and an imminent new future - Rose and I caught it on the cusp when we visited it last weekend. We were told that the builders are moving in this week. The building is to be boarded up again; the debris and overgrowth is the be cleared; extensions and outbuildings are to be demolished; and the property is to be redeveloped.

One of the outbuildings

There has been a lot of interest in Crookham Manor. It was a boys' boarding school, closed down in the early 1980s after horrendous revelations of child abuse. Part of the property was converted into bedsits, but much of it remained untouched. A few years ago, a set of stunning photographs of the eerie abandoned school made a stir, on the Internet and in the UK press. The place became a minor, unofficial, tourist attraction. While most visitors came to look, some were more destructive. Thieves stole the lead from the roof, leaving precarious stacks of roofing tiles and gaping holes through which the rain came. The water in the fabric of the building has made the upper storey unsafe. Vandals destroyed much of what was left.

My drawings don't show the graffiti, the litter or the broken glass that crunched underfoot. But I did attempt to show some of the damage - the bare laths in the ceiling of the chapel, the shattered stone font, the silenced organ...

Vandalism in the chapel
And the complete removal of the balusters from the grand staircase.