The Twin Doll Houses, Shropshire
Images 01 - 20: Dolls House - Jan's Den. Images 21-24, the second Dolls House nearby.
Exploring at the height of summer is nice on the one hand but on the other presents huge problems when the location you are trying to get to is so overgrown it can't actually be seen below the first floor. This tiny cottage was a case in point. Having tracked it down via the usual internet search engines some time ago it was time to pay it a visit. Located deep in the Shropshire countryside my initial concern was how to get to it from where I planned to park as from Google Earth it looked as if there was a working piece of land between the parking spot and the cottage. However, as I gathered my gear about to make the long walk through the fields, the owner of the land appeared and we chatted at length about the area and he was fine for me to walk through his land via the path and head towards the cottage. It was only after I'd photographed both cottages and was back at the car that I again saw this chap - a Mr. Morris - and mentioned that i'd been to the cottage and he was intrigued more than anything as it had been his former family home and both cottages had been in his family for hundreds of years. The main cottage in this report has been empty for 40 years apparently. Mr. Morris was busy trying to work out when his family left the cottage and concluded it was around the early 1970's. The second cottage which can be seen in image 21-24 has been empty for around 70 years, his family who lived in that one previously before moving to the second one around the early 1940's.
A delightful man, Mr. Morris proceeded to recall his childhood days in the area and life in the cottage when it was part of a working farm. I asked him why it hadn't been restored and pointed out the second cottage was now a ruin inside much to his surprise as he hadn't been to look at them for many years. I told him to wait for autumn unless he wants to end up with nettle stings and bramble scratches as they are both so overgrown!
So, after finally beating my way through the nettles and brambles to get inside the cottage, with its inscription above the door 'Jan's den', it really is like a dolls house being so small especially when viewed from afar. Inside nothing much remains except for several arm chairs by the huge fireplace in what was the kitchen/living room. Just two rooms upstairs and downstairs, there was no hint of a bathroom that I could see, I imagine it was in an outhouse which was confirmed by Mr. Morris. A plate of spent cartridges was still by the window catching the rays of sunshine bursting through where the window once was but now a mass of thick foliage vying for space inside he cottage. Albeit the walls had several cracks in them, the cottage seemed quite sound in its structure with the roof still in good condition and therefore the floors inside still being very dry and easy to walk on unlike some of the abandoned cottages i go in to. Upstairs was a box of old newspapers, the one which caught ny eye was dated January 16th 1986, after the cottage was abandoned, which had a front page splash about Margaret Thatcher. I sat and read this whilst having a cold drink I'd thankfully taken with me!
After 2 hours inside I walked down the valley and made my may across a stream carefully trying not to slip and up the valley to the second Doll's house which was barely viewable form ground level such was the mass of overgrowth surrounding it. Inside this cottage was in an extreme parlous state, the upper floor having collapsed down into one of the 2 small ground floor rooms. In the tiny kitchen/dining area lay a deceased lamb and apart form this nothing else remained inside apart form the original fireplace hence only a couple of images in this report of this cottage.
All in all a lovely day out seeing these two cottages and meeting the chap who's family owned them. It's always nice to get a personal story to attach to a location and helps build up a picture as to what it was once like before their demise set in. The next two days i spent covered in various antiseptic lotions whilst waiting for the nettle stings to subside and the bramble scratches to heal. Definitely worth it though.