Hell House, Birmingham
This house was troubling. All manner of superlatives can be used to describe this house. Macabre, depressing, morbid, abominable, shocking, sad. I had been told of the house and its contents as well as history a year before and wasn't particularly bothered about photographing it due to its distressing background. However the chance came up to go inside and see for myself just what on earth could be so bad.
Once inside it is immediately apparent that this is no ordinary abandoned house. The thick acrid air in the house combined with the dull piercing smell of decay meant there were challenges ahead. Walls so covered in thick blankets of cobwebs, once the home of giant crab spiders now laying dead in their dust covered tombs. The floors a mass of objects thrown around or placed by the occupants who may not have been hoarders but had certainly gathered a mass of items over the years, now sadly strewn about like discarded rubbish. The flooring, weather carpeted or wooden was not visible at all, in any room. Where there were spaces without objects, the floors had adopted a new design theme along the lines of dog droppings, in some places a foot thick.
Bleakness everywhere, artefacts everywhere, a forgotten home looking like something out of a horror film with a terrible story in its past.
Photographing was not easy as finding a flat surface to place my tripod was tricky, often balancing it on objects waiting for the vibrations to subside before the shutter was released to freeze a piece of history so torn and bewildering.
The owners who lived here, a married couple were obviously great lovers of dogs. Books, magazines, diaries and address books all established this as set. Pictures hanging on walls of dogs further alluded to this fact. All about the house there must have been 10 - 20 dog baskets and carriers in a now decayed state. Once this house was full of life, full of dogs being cared for, yet later in their lives, all this changed.
The husband it seems left the house for good. The wife stayed and sadly at some point suffered from a degenaritive illness which left her unable to care for the dogs and thus she retreated to the upstairs bedroom and lived on a diet of bottled water. It also seems that she had no contact with the outside world towards the end. Unable to care for herself or her pets, the dogs became neglected and inevitably hungry. It would appear the dogs roamed freely around the house for some time whilst the lady remained upstairs left to her own spiral of ill health. Dogs when hungry and are not being fed become panicked and desperate and in this case turned on each other, the weaker ones merely being at the mercy of the stronger ones and after time all had perished, either being eaten or dying of starvation. Family pets had become savages out of despertion. When the lady died I do not know and why the dogs were left in the house after she was taken from the house I do not know. It all seems a worrying indication of modern life where previous notions of a wider community who looked out for each other no matter the hardship has been replaced with cognitive and social bubbles.
An angelic child prays in a picture hanging on one of the rotting walls. A stark contradiction to the terrible scenes which have unravelled around it.