Calcott Hall, Powys, Wales
'Red Dress Manor'
Having an idea of what was inside, the anticipation and excitment was notched up a little for this visit. My favourite types of building. A mixture of decay, nature taking over in parts, yet still in good condition to safely walk around without fear of falling through a floor. When the house has personal items left behind to give an insight into life before the building became abandoned then all is perfect.
Built around 1720 in the Georgian style and Grade II listed in 1953, Calcott Hall, - also known as Red Dress Manor - lies frozen in time.
Its nick name derived from the now famous red satin floor-length dress which hangs in an upstairs wardrobe belonging to Frances Jones, as if just having been worn and hung up in its rightful place. It would appear she wore the red dress as a bridesmaid some time around the 1950's and next to the wardrobe is a chest of drawers with a framed picture of Frances wearing the red dress at the wedding. Personal items such as make up and a hand held mirror lay scattered around the framed picture. From a family tree found at the house going back to 1726, it appears Frances remained unmarried living with her unmarried brother William at the house. The lady was the last person living in the house before she passed away around 2003.
All through this beautiful house are personal items left behind. Everywhere I look are artefacts giving an insight into decades of past lives. Certificates from the 1800’s lay near a vintage Singer sewing machine. Diaries from the 1940’s, fashion magazines from the 1960’s and school exercise books from the 1950’s lay where they were last placed and left to gather dust. Being in this house is like stepping back in time into the lives of the people who lived here. A rare insight into the past. Faces stare out from old photographs. I do not know who the people are in the photographs but they all form a little piece of this house's history. Some of those people may still be alive today, yet other's may have passed away. Red Dress Manor certainly has many mysteries inside.
A treasure trove of memories, Calcott Hall – a once thriving dairy farm - is captured here, a house where time has stood still. The clocks inside may have stopped, the vintage wallpaper may be peeling, cobwebs may cover many of the items in the house but the echoes of lives can still be felt throughout like the ghosts of a distant time.
Calcott Hall 2015 - Two year return
I returned here two years later in order to show some friends around and see for myself how the Hall was fairing. Since my initial visit in 2013, the hall had been partially cleared out and the remaining contents tidied up. The sheer chaos wasn't as extreme especially downstairs. However, there were still enough items left inside to get some nice photographs albeit they look more staged as the contents had been set up by previous explorers. The decay had advanced - as the elements and nature were free to enter the house via missing and broken windows which hadn't been repaired.