Crookham Court School – take two

I first explored Crookham Court School last year, bemoaning how I’d missed my chance since the main house was well sealed at the time and the only route I found in was worryingly one way. I’ve a vague recollection of reading that in the intervening period the site had had some temporary travelling visitors, and when I checked ahead of a work journey up the A34 it was clear from a number of other reports that the house was very much accessible, and suffering as a result. As it happens visiting Crookham Court was actually my plan B, but when my plan A (the Pianoforte Supplies factory in Roade near Northampton) turned out to literally be mid-demo, I was damned if I wasn’t getting any exploring in on the way home!

Crookham-2-005Wide open is an understatement, but that’s very much come at the cost of the lovely (albeit with a horrible dark history) manor house getting totally trashed. The largest space is the open hall in the middle of the building, with a wide staircase up to a hanging landing around it, though that landing has a little bit of added edge given the fact that the bannister around it has been totally removed. There are few signs of metal theft in the building, but I reckon that’s mostly been lead off the roof rather than pipework and wiring – huge radiators remain and there’s no obvious piles of cable insulation. Hence most of the smashing up of things is down to pure vandalism!

Crookham-2-069Generally speaking, the numerous rooms are pretty empty and stripped of most content. An obvious standout though is the library, which is still full of books. It is a big old place though, with room after room, interspersed with things like bathrooms. A few slightly sketchy floors too, and with holes in the roof it’s only going to get worse! I did particularly like the fact that one of the internal courtyard areas at the heart of the building along with the service areas are beautifully tiled with white glazed bricks. All-in-all the whole building was beautifully light throughout too, helped by those internal courtyards and lots of glass! I’d also heard it said that the school had its own fallout shelter … err, that’s a large walk in fridge folks!

Crookham-2-099I worked my way up to the top of the building, before coming back down another staircase and ultimately, having covered the service areas, heading down into the basement area accessed through the the courtyard where the roof had totally collapsed. The basement had clearly been a recreation area for the pupils with gym equipment, a dark room, several lounge areas including an awesome Ghostbusters mural (since I’m clearly not afraid of no ghosts!) and then … above me I heard voices. Given that it was more than one person, it seemed most likely to be other explorers or at worst a bunch of kids. I’m usually super quiet when I explore on my own, but rather than sneaking out, I thought “sod it!” I made plenty of noise coming up out of the basement, and was aware of the voices trying to get away from me. Seemed rude not to find them and say hello therefore! I quickly tracked them down to the natural furthest point in the building, helped by the fact that somebody had strong after shave on, where they were hiding! Three photographer dudes with some professional full frame kit, who explained that most evenings the “caretaker” did visit the site with his dogs. A nice chat later, and I left them to head up to the roof whilst I headed home!

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