Decades of horror movies, Gothic novels and campfire stories have turned the phrase ‘abandoned school’ into a byword for creepy. Secluded, magnificent, ramshackle and almost overflowing with hidden memories, they exist in that weird borderland between haunting and juvenile – part Jane Eyre and part Scooby-Doo. But there’s no denying their pull, or the otherworldly quality found in photos of their abandoned dormitories and classrooms. Here we pick nine of the creepiest right on your doorstep:
Lillesden School for Girls (UK)
The archetypal abandoned boarding school, Lillesden School for Girls closed down in 1999 and has become a mecca for explorers, ‘radical’ artists and film crews ever since. Much, much bigger than it appears from the outside, this broken shell resembles at times a Chinese Puzzle Box – thanks in large part to the number of strange surprises stored beyond the various security doors. From the demonic graffiti in the old bathrooms, to the partially-collapsed gym and the occasional – unexpected – appearance of strange sculptures left by local art collectives, this great, shambling ruin contains enough weirdness to fill a particularly gothic carnival. It’s also the site of several cult films and TV shows of the past decade: with both 28 Days Later and Doctor Who filming scenes here.