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Report - Cattistock Lodge, Dorset June 2016

Discussion in 'Residential Sites' started by Thumper, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. Thumper

    Thumper 28DL Full Member
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    As I have a few days off work and my friend finished early yesterday we decided to pop up to Cattistock Lodge in Dorset. Parking was not ideal and a local farmer was almost patrolling the area so my friend stayed with the car while I went and had a quick look so I'm afraid it's not a great report.

    Some back history of this property. Presumably built at some point in the 1700's this large Lodge which locals also described as the village's only Manor House was occupied by the Reverend W Philips who started the Cattistock Hunt there which was originally known as True Blue Hunt, he lived and hunted from Cattistock Lodge from circa 1780 - 1806.

    From the 1901 Census, the family occupying the Lodge were named Sitwell. There were 14 people living there;
    Head of the house Mr Edward Sitwell, his wife Caroline, their 4 children Caroline, Joyce, Blanche and Jacinth, a visitor named Margaret Pringle, a Governess named Gertrude Taylor and 6 servants.

    Moving forwards to the Lodge's last owner/occupier who was Ms Margaretta Soulsby. Margaretta lived in the Lodge incredibly until 2010 and she sadly passed away at the age of 89 in January this year. Born in the same year as the Queen Margaretta was a proud Brit and Royalist, she ran the company Westminster Touring Association. She attended almost every significant Royal event since King George V Silver Jubilee in 1935 which she went to with her Father when she was 10 years old. Her last Royal event was at the age of 86 where she camped in a tent on the Thames Bank by Tower Bridge to guarantee a spot up front for the Queens Diamond Jubilee.

    With no surviving family, the Lodge is still in Margaretta's name so presumably under instruction of whichever legal team dealt with her estate. As the Lodge is not Grade listed I presume demolition will eventually happen.

    On my own in the pouring rain, with a phone on 11% of battery and a farmer keeping an eye on us I found my way in though the woods. The ground was incredibly boggy and layered with years of fallen leaves it was quite un-nerving not knowing what may lay underneath. Next up was the jungle of nettles and brambles reaching over 5ft in height (ouch).

    [​IMG]

    The front section is still mostly intact externally but the rest is gone

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    I don't really recommend climbing over anything, you just have no idea what's underneath and this lot just kept shifting around so I did not venture any further

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    Looking towards the rear of the property which is also completely collapsed and has been taken over by nature

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    The gable end lies amongst the roof, floors and internal and external items

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    Looking back at the collapsed section, I presume the collapse was simple due to neglect and rot

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    The front side section of the property, due to ridiculously large brambles which resembled triffids I couldn't even get to the lower window. Unsure what the pipe is poking out of the first floor window

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    The front door was tied shut with barbed wire

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    The front of the house, there is a lean-to to the right of the front door but it is completely engufled by weeds, same as the outbuilding further to the right where the boundary wall rises

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    The gated entrande to the gardens and outbuilding, sealed shut by ivy

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    I then gained access to the right of the property down an alleyway, although I went in daylight it was pitch black and I had to use the torch on my phone. Once again very boggy ground with holes and drops but it had a very charming 'secret garden' feel to it

    [​IMG]

    A bramble pinged back in the way of this dark photograph but this was an example of how dangerous the path was, it was pitch black and all of a sudden you would find yourself faced with a 10ft deep trench

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    A set of double gates far back on the right side of the property. I could not see what it led to despite climbing up the 12ft boundary wall because it really was pitch black down there, all photo's here are taken with a flash

    [​IMG]

    With my phone battery now on 3%, wondering if I would find my way back through the dark jungle, the rain lashing down, the farmer still patrolling, crows crowing and the building creaking and groaning I decided to make my exit. Sad, creepy but charming, I bet it was rather grand in it's former life.
     
    thenib1000 and Enzaraen like this.

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  2. Enzaraen

    Enzaraen 28DL Member
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    Very well written. The house and grounds are huge when a friend and I looked around it. Most of it has either collapsed or is engulfed in a mix of nettles and brambles.. Right at the back was a garage with a 1930s Jaguar in it.

    About the farmer, was he really looking for people? I know there has more people coming in to look around the house and the wire is regularly cut and then put back implying someone goes in. Upstairs in the main house (and a number of outbuildings) are heaps of letters and newspaper articles which would suggest she may have been a hoarder of sort.

    Lastly, are you sure this house isn't listed? I'd be surprised if it wasn't.
     
  3. Thumper

    Thumper 28DL Full Member
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    Hi Enzaraen, sorry for the late reply I need to change my settings to get notifications!

    The enquiries I made with a local suggested the house was not a listed property but I too found that hard to believe considering it's age and historical importance. A search online of listed buildings also returned nothing on the lodge which is a real shame.

    The farmer was definitely keeping an eye on us as he drove up and down the road 4 times in his pickup truck, my friend was in the car feigning a phone call so that seemed to keep him satisfied that she was on her own while I was off exploring. As I came out via the gardens where the Jaguar is I was well hidden the whole time. The barbed wire tied round the front door handles was very old and rusted solid so I presume no-one has been in that entrance for quite some time, however it is very accesible via the roadside garden entrance where the dry stone wall has collapsed.

    As far as a local knows, Maragretta was single with no children, sadly a loner and yes appeared to be something of a hoarder. She often accompanied a chap quite high up in the Royal Navy to events and ceremonies but I think it was purely a platonic friendship.

    As it's local I will certainly keep an eye on it.
     
  4. CrazyDaisy

    CrazyDaisy 28DL Full Member
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    Good work, the property is not a listed building. When I visited a middle aged pair in a 4x4 patrolled up and down the road. You'd wonder what they were being so precious about? The rot started years ago. But I did find a company owned by Margaretta. Margaretta was the last living family shareholder and she borrowed a large amount of money against the property about 20 years ago. Misnomer she lived there, she lived with the man friend retired Royal Navy fellow. The money borrowed certainly wasn't spent fixing the property. This is nothing new, I have come across a lot of derelict places with owners in debt to the bank.
     
  5. Thumper

    Thumper 28DL Full Member
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    Thanks for the information Daisy, it certainly is a shame the building is unlisted but to be honest it's in such a bad state I bet it's a relief to the trust, again it is a shame as the place was absolutely vast, has quite a great historical past and from the road looks completely fine, it's only when you get to the sides you see just how much devastation has taken place.

    I beg your pardon over the fact she lived there until 2010. Some neighbours in the local shop in the next village provided this information, perhaps she just ocassionally popped in to collect post and some personal items and they presumed she still resided there. A great shame that she appeared to be in so much debt, that must have been a worry for an elderly lady and I cannot imagine being of that age and having such an enormous property to take care of in such a bad state of repair.

    I'm not too sure why the farmer on the opposite side of the road is quite precious about it, perhaps he had some connection with the lady or maybe he is worried about looters, squatters or a fire risk, in small communities villagers do often rally together to keep an eye out for each other and to be honest Urban Explorers are not often painted in the best light by the media, any excuse to get someone nicked for trespass and criminal damage.
     
  6. The_Surveyor

    The_Surveyor 28DL Member
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    Last night the front of the Lodge was vandalised. c*nt was sprayed above the door, an attempt to spray a swastika was made on one door and the idiots managed to draw a second one on the other door. This is particularly offensive as Margeretta Soulsby's companion of many years was Ron Maitland-Flanagan, see:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukn...rans-gather-in-France-to-honour-comrades.html
    https://www.facebook.com/ASquadron/posts/420896144687055
    and last but not least:
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1360020623

    He did / has done much more with his life than most would do in several lifetimes.

    Miss Soulsby herself was a lovely lady, always turned out immaculately. Her death was a surprise as I'd met her a few months previously and she seemed extremely robust, even for one 10 years younger than she was. She divided her time between London, Paris and Cattistock. Even when the power in the Lodge failed she'd still come down, stay in the house during daylight hours then potter off to a nearby house for the night.

    This house holds a great deal of interest for the locals who are mainly interested in the site and what will happen to it.

    This petty mindless vandalism is why Urban Explorers get a bad name; I admit that it was probably not UEs as such who vandalised the house but a couple of f**kwits, but nonetheless UEs will be blamed in some quarters.

    Has anyone actually sat down and considered that the farmer across the road may actually be concerned for the safety of those entering this building, rather than trying to prevent any criminal activity? There's nothing worth taking anymore and the remains of the house is on the point of collapse. One foot in the wrong place could bring the house down on the owner of that unfortunate foot and his or her sidekicks...
     
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  7. Thumper

    Thumper 28DL Full Member
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    That's terrible news Surveyor!! As you say Ms Souslby seemed a truly lovely lady so for some brainless moron to vandalise such a building in the most disrespectful of ways is awful. I hope it can be removed or painted over. It's such a quiet village and the Lodge is a way out of the village in a remote area so why they targeted that is anyones guess. Could be anything, I know that squatters or drug takers have been moved on from there before so perhaps some sort of mindless revenge. Not far up from the Lodge is a muddy layby, I was actually there on Boxing Day whilst following the Cattistock Hunt, there were tell tale signs of travellers having been in the field by the layby, could possibly be linked.

    I agree with you about the farmer, I've seen far too many YouTube videos now of idiots who call themselves UE's wrecking places, being disrespectful, getting caught, lost, trapped or hurt, or all of the above in some cases! I do think the Lodge should be pulled down for safety's sake, we've been lucky not to have many high winds so far this winter but it's an accident waiting to happen and if that front fascia comes down on the road, god help anyone who is on it at the time!
     
  8. CrazyDaisy

    CrazyDaisy 28DL Full Member
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    The estate to be finalised soon and something useful done with the site would be the best outcome. Very often places like Cattistock Lodge are left to rot for 30 years in Bona Vacantia then sold filling the state's coffers. I can never understand why people can't be bother to write wills, a form of selfishness.
     
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