(Images: †#€ ßΩ∂†M∂И; one of many beautiful abandoned houses in the UK)
For most people, a home is so much more than a convenient shelter from the elements. It’s a place for them to project something about themselves, a tiny fragment of their souls. That’s why abandoned houses seem so uniquely haunting. We’re not just seeing a forgotten building; we’re seeing the remnants of someone’s life.
Diverse as the following abandoned houses may be, each still carries a tiny part of their former owners. A link back to times, both good and bad, that have now been lost forever.
Abandoned Château Lumière, France
(Images: LulaTaHula; a haunting abandoned mansion in France)
A vast, gated residence, the abandoned Château Lumière in France is like something out of a Dickens novel. Vast, white walls gracefully slide up into the sky, their windows dark and shuttered. Inside the abandoned house, grand hallways and marble staircases stand empty, as if waiting for some vibrant party that will never be held. The grounds are overgrown, and every surface in the mansion is covered with a thick layer of dust. You half expect to see Mrs Havisham wandering the corridors, clad in her tattered wedding dress.
With its largely intact interior, the abandoned Château Lumière is today a favourite spot for urban explorers and photographers, keen to catch a glimpse of some bygone age. It may be locked away behind an iron gate and left to go to ruin, but in a strange way, Château Lumière has found a second life, even in the grip of decay.
Abandoned Manor House, France
If the Château Lumière has fallen into a graceful kind of airless death, this unnamed manor house has seemingly met a more-violent end. A grand French estate in which children once played while ladies entertained, it today looks like a bombsite. Windows have been smashed, walls blown inwards, and ceilings collapsed. Inside is a world of damp, decay and rubble.
What makes this abandoned mansion so haunting, though, is how much has been left behind. Old children’s bicycles from before the invention of rubber tires lie in a tangled heap on one floor. Prayer books, sewing machines and statues of the Virgin all cling onto life, despite being surrounded by death. While most abandoned mansions are cleared out before their occupants finally leave, this one was seemingly left in a nearly-normal state, like the Mary Celeste of French country homes, before being trashed. What great tragedy caused the family to flee is something we simply no longer know.
Abandoned Thornseat Lodge Near Sheffield, England
(Images: richboxfrenzy; Thornseat Lodge, a grand abandoned house outside Sheffield, UK)
A grand old hunting lodge on the fringes of South Yorkshire, Thornseat Lodge was once where the high and mighty of Sheffield society went to play. Built in 1855 for the prominent steel-maker William Jessop, this elegant abandoned house once saw shooting parties unmatched nearly anywhere in the region.
Yet if the Victorians who attended these glittering events could see it today, they likely wouldn’t even recognize it. Broken down, part-collapsed, and wholly unloved, Thornseat Lodge is now just another eerie ruin of Sheffield’s industrial past.
Not that the Jessop family held onto the lodge until its end. In the 1930s, the now abandoned house was sold and converted into a children’s home that was both beautiful and bleak. It stayed that way right up until the 1980s, when it was finally closed down. Now little more than a derelict wreck, Thornseat Lodge is a reminder that nothing – no matter how grand – lasts forever.
Creepy Abandoned House in Belgium
(Images: olavXO; exploring a creepy abandoned house in Belgium)
Sometimes, the lack of available information about a place can make it all the more-intriguing. A case in point might be this long abandoned house somewhere in Belgium. Smaller than the previous entries on this list, the forgotten detached home is at once beautiful, claustrophobic, and undeniably creepy.
Part of this comes from the clash of eras you can see. On the one hand, sepia photographs still sit on mantelpieces as old wooden chairs wait beside iron fireplaces. On the other, piles of modern junk mail litter the hall, and fresh flowers still seem to stand on the dining table. Urban explorers seeking to brighten up the scene, perhaps? The effect is like stepping into a house that is at once lost in the past, and stuck in the present. In many old houses, it is easy to imagine that you can feel the ghosts of bygone eras watching you. In this particular instance, it feels like the ghost could be the house itself.
Abandoned Manor House, UK
(Images: †#€ ßΩ∂†M∂И; an abandoned manor house in England)
Somewhere in Britain lies this long-forgotten relic of a previous time. An imposing stone mansion set in the middle of its own patch of land, it appears from the outside to have been merely shuttered for a short time. Inside, on the other hand, is a whole other matter. The chipped paint, peeling wallpaper and ruined ceilings speak less of somewhere preserved, and more of somewhere left to rot for reasons unknown.
How the building came to be in this state is anyone’s guess. The abandoned house looks like it could have been built anywhere between several decades and a couple of centuries ago. The facade is foreboding, as if the house itself is about to scold you for some offence. It’s the sort of building stern governesses inhabit in Victorian literature… but also the sort that often sees conversion into modern collections of four or six rental apartments. For some reason, that hasn’t happened here. The abandoned mansion continues to decay, waiting for redevelopment or the wrecking ball.
Abandoned Mansion, St Petersburg, Russia
(Images: Pavel Kirrilov; an abandoned mansion in St Petersburg, Russia)
Western Europe does not, of course, have a monopoly on grand mansions. In the Imperial era, Russia’s ruling class threw up vast palaces and ornately-decorated mansions to rival Britain and France in opulence. While many have now been reoccupied in post-Soviet times, not all have regained their former glory. Some, such as this empty mansion in St Petersburg, have simply been left behind. Frozen forever in a now long-gone past.
As with others in this article, the exact story behind this grand abandoned house is unknown. What’s not in doubt, however, is its beauty. The chandeliers, the ornate decorations on the white plaster walls, the grand, wood-paneled rooms… all add up to somewhere that was once an important home. It also makes you wonder uneasily about what led to its emptiness. Whatever its secrets, this abandoned house seems to be holding onto them.
Abandoned Seward House, New Jersey, USA
(Images: Justin Gurbisz; the abandoned Seward House in Morris, NJ)
Thanks to the country’s relatively-short history, mansions in the USA have tended to be of an altogether different stripe to those in Europe. This abandoned mansion in New Jersey may not be as elegant as some of the European entries on this list, but it’s still extremely grand, and wonderfully haunting.
Revealed to be the Seward House in Morris, New Jersey, the elegant stone-built home was built for a prominent gentleman farmer with extensive business connections in New York City. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an example of a grand farmhouse built in the Italianate style, which was soon eclipsed in popularity by Second Empire.
Taken when the abandoned house was in a state of heavy decay, these photos show a building in the last stages of its life. Gone are all mementos of the past, replaced instead by dust and damp and mould. Its structure is collapsing, everything has been stripped out. It’s the idea of a house broken down to only its shell – an empty vessel for living in, nothing more. These photos were taken in 2007, and it’s hoped the Seward House may have been on the brink of restoration.
Abandoned Row Houses in Camden, New Jersey, USA
(Image: Blake Bolinger; abandoned row houses define some areas of Camden, NJ)
Of course, not every old home full of memories was once a mansion. Welcome to Camden, New Jersey, one of the most-depressed and crime-ridden cities in the United States. As a result of deindustrialization, migration of people from inner-cities to the suburbs, shortage in government funding and other issues, large tracts of the city have been left empty. As a result, Camden is now home to many depressed neighbourhoods, dangerous streets and abandoned houses.
Many of the homes featured in these pictures are all the more remarkable for being quite unremarkable. Small, narrow and cramped, these are largely basic places, despite instances of fine detailing in their architecture. Yet each and every single one stands as a monument to lives lived and people long forgotten. In the endless parade of empty homes in Camden, you can read the story of a once-thriving city driven to the brink of despair. The families that once made these places seem alive are now long gone. With them seems to have gone the hopes and dreams of their entire neighbourhoods.
The Abandoned Victorian Houses in Brush Park, Detroit
Today, fair or not, Detroit has become a byword for urban decay. But this wasn’t always the case. Only a few short decades ago, Motor City was at the epicentre of a money-making whirlwind, brought on by America’s booming manufacturing industry. Even as far back as the mid-19th century, the city was doing well enough for entrepreneur Edmund Brush to create an entire, 24-block neighborhood of 300 mansions.
Built in Victorian, Romanesque and Second Empire styles, Brush Park’s grand mansions were soon the envy of all Detroiters. Yet this dream of an upscale world couldn’t last. Even before the rest of Motor City fell on hard times, Brush Park was coming crashing down to reality. The advent of motorcars and trolleys were allowing the wealthy to live much further away from city centres, and the Great Depression was impoverishing many more. By the postwar period, the writing was on the wall.
Fast forward to 2016, and Brush Park is little more than a glorious set of opulent ruins. While local regeneration efforts are saving some of its abandoned mansions, many more have been demolished, leaving vast empty city blocks, while others are crumbling to the ground.
Abandoned Croft, Scotland
(Images: Colin MacInnes; an abandoned croft in the Scottish Highlands)
Rising out the frozen wilds of Scotland’s moors like a spectre from a Gothic novel is this old farmhouse. Made of stone, miles from anywhere, and looking like it was abandoned many, many decades ago, this forgotten building is both beautiful and haunting.
The outside is humble in the extreme. A single story dwelling with small windows and a low roof, the abandoned croft is typical of the sort of dwellings popular a hundred years or so ago, which, in many cases, endure today. Inside there’s even an semi-intact fireplace; once the only source of warmth from the bleak Scottish winters. Nonetheless, the setting is undoubtedly photogenic. In the heart of Scotland’s rugged, visually stunning countryside, it’s the sort of place you can only imagine living.
Given its distance from anywhere and general state of decay, it seems unlikely this abandoned house will be regenerated any time soon. Instead, it will stand as a monument to the people who eked out an existence here many years ago, like the countless other ruined crofts that haunt this wild landscape.