The House of Lost Souls
There are many ways to find locations, sometimes many hours of research on various websites and sometimes a more direct route via word of mouth. The most rewarding locations will always be those that just appear whilst out driving around either purposely searching for something new or looking for another location. This house was just that and due to my sat nav deciding to send me on a strange route through the tiniest country roads, not fit for a car, The House of Lost Souls was unearthed. It appeared out of the darkness and immediately, the broken windows and missing slates hinted at something splendid inside worth exploring further. It would have to wait though as darkness had descended across the vast countryside.
A week later and inside the house after nearly ripping myself in two on a barbed wire fence, I was greeted with everything I like about these old abandoned houses. In every room, remnants of the former occupants still remained, frozen in time. Two singer sewing machines, piles of letters and photographs, army first aid kits, diaries and all sorts of things. Letters addressed to the previos owners suggest a Mr & Mrs Jones lived there probably most of their lives and Mrs Jones outlived her husband by a number of years.
To my delight were 3 vintage cameras in an upstairs room, still intact along with a box of black and white photographs. Obviously one former occupant was a keen photographer and quite a good one judging by his/her photgraphs to which I sat and looked through for quite some time! All 3 cameras were vintage AGFA folding cameras, still with their luxurious leather cases. A medium format Agfa Billy Record 1[1950-52 model], an Agfa Billy 6.3 [1933-42 model] along with an Agfa Isolette medium format bellows camera [1937-42 model] which my research has revealed is an interesting camera as it was known as the 'soldier's camera' or in German 'soldatenkamera' as many soldiers took them to war to capture images, although this was strictly forbidden.
Another delightful find was a vintage Pietro accordion probably from around the 1940's. Pietro, an Italian manufacturer are one of the most distinguished makers or accordions and this was a fine example and still in remarkably good condition.
Photographing the house took quite a few hours due to constantly stopping to look at the letters and other times inside the house and the last room to be photographed was a back bedroom upstairs with its bed still made with vintage sheets and blankets along with an old gramophone on the window sill and wardrobes full of old clothes. Photograph no.21 shows this bedroom from the landing, a dark brooding room steeped in its frozen past, prior to me going inside the room. Photographing abandoned buildings comes with many dangers and risk of injury if one isn't careful, and sometimes even when due care has been taken. Here in this room I sustained my most serious injury to date. As I set stood in the room looking for angles to shoot before returning with my camera/tripod, the floor crumbled like bolsa wood under my feet and down I crashed albeit managing to land my hands on the floor as my body hung below. Unfortunately my shoulder gave way and buckled under the impact and suffice to say its damage was quite severe. After such a bad experience and in some shock and pain I managed to pull myself up and get past the newly created hole and out onto the landing to safety where I packed up and left and spent the evening in casualty near home after a long and painful drive back which normally would take an hour or so but took nearly four!
As beautiful these locations can be they possess hidden dangers yet the enjoyment of photographing them, especially if they haven't been photographed before remains, albeit risks I may have taken previously aren't done anymore unless I am with someone else!
The House of Lost Souls is one of my favourites and hopefully will remain hidden away although I can't help thinking that all those artefacts should be in a museum somewhere for more people to marvel at. For now they remain in situ, gathering dust, frozen in their own little museum out of public view.