project h

Welcome to our latest escapade, a place shrouded in mystery and intrigue. 

A place so secret that we cannot tell you what it's called, where it is or who it belongs to!

We're also not going to say who went, when they went or how they got there, or even if they did. Here's some nice pictures, along with a few comments. The images come from 2 separate visits in case anyone is wondering why the snow disappears in some shots.


External Shots.

ABOVE: The building commands a prominent position overlooking the Sussex countryside and is visible from quite a lot of the surrounding area, just as the owner intended. The intended air of opulence and status is clearly discernible even from a distance. 

ABOVE: The Boat House, a masterpiece in itself. The building is structurally complete to all intents and purposes, but shrouded in scaffolding since the day it was erected and already showing signs of neglect. 

ABOVE: The scale of the place becomes very apparent up close. Note the moss growing happily on the scaffold boards - this has all obviously been set up for some time. Work on the building began in 1994 and came to an abrupt halt in around 2002 after a huge row between the building contractors and the owner. 

ABOVE: The amount of scaffolding just left to rust here is absolutely incredible. It has been here for a long time, as a lot of the scaffolding boards are showing signs of moss growing on them. 

ABOVE: We assume this is the front of the building, as viewed from the grounds. 

ABOVE & BELOW: The building is symmetrical  and this view shows one side and the central hall housing the Grand Staircase. Note the fantastic domed cupola top left and the curved staircase bottom left. The staircases are mirrored, one either side of the centre of the building, facing each other.


ABOVE: The amount of scaffolding at this site is astronomical. It's hard to believe that any scaffolding company could afford to let this amount sit and rot for nigh on 20 years. 


ABOVE: It is difficult to determine whether the current structure has been built on the same site as the original mansion as there is no real pattern to any of the surrounding geography that would suggest any kind of driveway or grand approach. Whilst the groundwork around the structure is something that can be arranged once completed, we expected some suggestion of a reference point harking back to the original layout of the estate that would possibly indicate the location of the original mansion.  

ABOVE: Beyond the curved centre point of the building's frontage. This staircase reflects the other facing it. The exposed brickwork is meant to be either rendered or clad in stonework and is already starting to crumble in places - it was never intended to be left exposed to the elements for so long. 

BELOW: This view shows the opposite side of the site (round the back, so to speak). All three of the copper rooved cupolas are visible in this shot. They are to all intents and purposes very ornate skylights, allowing daylight into a large room underneath. More on these later.


Inside: The Grand Staircase.

ABOVE: The Grand Staircase as viewed form the bay windows on the ground floor. Even in this unfinished state, the staircase is both imposing and very impressive. We guess that the pillars will be encased on completion and that the stairs leading down either side of the central stair up will be encased with railings.


ABOVE: The central staircase viewed looking towards the rear of the building. Note the stacks of banisters bottom left, for the ballustrades. We cannot determine what they are made from, but we are guessing reconstituted stone. 

ABOVE: The skylight allows a massive amount of light into the stairwell, which would otherwise be very gloomy and austere. Despite the unfinished air of the building, the skylight is complete and fully glazed.






BELOW: The Foyer and Main Staircase. In this state, we were reminded of a very grand multi storey car park. On completion, we are guessing that the support pillars would be encased and the concrete roof supports would be hidden within decorative mouldings.


ABOVE & BELOW: We believe this room to be either the master bedroom or a guest bedroom - there is a quarter-circle cut into the floor directly under the built over section, indicating that there would be a sunken bath or jacuzzi installed. The 2 doorways are, we believe, his and hers toilets.

BELOW: This is one side of the building, behind the Main Staircase. The majority of the ground floor is open plan, providing a maximised display area for art treasures.


ABOVE: Although not the most clear of photos, this picture shows some of the incredibly ornate coving which would have surrounded the ceiling in the majority of rooms on this level.  The extent comes to an abrupt end when the workforce downed tools and left.

ABOVE: Note the dark patches of plaster at the top edge where the wall meets the ceiling: there is a flat roof terrace above this room with a ballustrade around it. As a result of the rooves being incomplete, the top level of the entire building is heavily affected by damp. It would require a large amount of roofing work, replastering and in some cases partial demolition to make the top floor habitable.

ABOVE: Almost every room  in the place had a small heap of discarded building materials within, left when the workforce downed tools after a dispute with the owner. Time, frost and damp would have rendered the bags of plaster seen here as completely useless after so many years.

ABOVE: There is only one completed room on the site and that is a Lift-gear room. The rest of the enormous building represents varying stages of completion: in some rooms, the walls and ceiling are incredibly carefully plastered, in others the underfloor heating has been partially laid under the unfinished concrete floor. In some places, the electrics and conduits are installed but not plastered over, in some they are fully installed but without face plates or switchgear. The Patrice box on the left (so far as I can tell from the types of cable) would eventually be a heating thermostatic switch. Those present on the right would be for light switches.


ABOVE: Stairs from the Basement, leading to the Sub Basement. The upper level will be for the storage of  the owner's undisplayed art treasures, the basement will be for slightly more menial stuff... 

ABOVE: This photo shows the first basement level - if the building were ever finished, this would be where the owner would store the vast majority of his priceless art treasures (out of direct sunlight). This location is almost directly under the Main Staircase and has been used for the most part as a builders store for the last 15 years. There is a huge variety of building material and equipment here, plus a lot of what appears to be either reclaimed or reproduction guttering, all of which is cast iron. We are guessing that if it hasn't been reclaimed from the original manor house, it may very well have been produced from patterns obtained from the original building.

 ABOVE: There are a few areas around the building site which contain neat stacks of breeze blocks or bricks, but the items seen in  this photo are all of either stone or reconstituted stone. We aren't certain due to the weathering - they have clearly been here for some time. A lot of it has been damaged or split by a combination of water ingress and frost. This location can be clearly seen from the footpath across the estate.

BELOW: Just as you hop across the stile onto the (very legitimate) nearby footpath through the estate, there are some bits of metal poking out of a patch of brambles right next to it. Closer inspection of this area revealed quite a lot of the components needed to assemble a cast iron spiral staircase, one of the treads of which is shown in the photo. We are guessing that these may have been salvaged from the original manor house which stood at the heart of the estate.



ABOVE: There are 2 lifts in the place, placed symmetrically.  We aren't certain whether they are access or service lifts for servants, but they both appear to be functional (the lift gear fires up and runs but they cannot be called to floors).

ABOVE: Sections of the ballustrade top: It's not clear whether this is stone or reconstituted stone in use, but there is a lot of pallets of very ornate stonework in the place. 

ABOVE: Tiling samples for bathroom walls and floor (the floor sample is the smaller panel). 

ABOVE: It's interesting to see what's involved in underfloor heating - clearly it's the only real method for a building of this size. The wire grid can be seen top right, prior to the insulation and concrete floor raft layer going in on top.  

BELOW: Mouldings for the coving: we are not certain whether these would have been taken from parts of the original mansion. It seems strange for the need to take a moulding of a pre-existing copy.

BELOW: At one end of the room was this huge blank wall with a small anteroom behind it. The majority of the cables coming through the sockets are LAN (networking) and AV cables, so we are guessing that an enormpus flat screen television panel would one day be hung here.


 ABOVE & BELOW: The view across the grounds and lake to the boathouse. This will be a lovely view in spring and summer.Note the pallets of intricately carved stone in the foreground - the pallets have been there so long, they are beginning to rot and break down.


ABOVE: The Basement: intended primarily for the storage of art treasures, this level is a lot lower than the upper floors. There is a large amount of water damage here, where plumbing and rainwater pipes have not been completed. It looks a long way off being suitable for the storage of anything much, let alone unique art treasures.... 


The Main Cupola.

ABOVE: Although shrouded in scaffolding, the Central Cupola and its copper domed roof are flanked on one side by a fantastic ballustrade and roof terrace on either side of the building, just glimpsed through the window. The roof terrace on the northern side is a whole floor higher than on the southern side and the lower level on the northern side is adjoined by what appears to be a huge bedroom or guest suite.

ABOVE: The southern side of the central Cupola and its roof terrace and ballustrade. The curve of the cupola and roof terrace is carried down the frontage of the building and this forms the central point of the structure. Externally the 2 staircases are wrapped around the curve of this, the central point of the building's symmetry. 

BELOW: This view is looking up from the southern side of the cupola towards the northern side. We guess that a spiral staircase will lead up to the narrow walkway around the inside of the upper level.

BELOW: A pan of the inside of the cupola, looking from southern to northern side. 

BELOW: The intricate windows on the southern upper level of the cupola. The brickwork is extremely intricate here. Note the incredibly ornate ceiling and plasterwork peeping through the gap in the scaffolding boards. The inside of the dome is incredibly ornate and quite at odds with the unfinished quality of the rest of this location.

BELOW: A little more climbing reveals the fantastic roof of the cupola. Absolutely stunning.

BELOW: The door from the cupola leads out to the northern roof terrace. Luckily, it was unlocked and the views from the roof terrace are fantastic, made even more beautiful by a cloudless blue sky and the vapour trails of planes...

BELOW: The roof terrace around the cupola is littered with pallets of various items of stonework. Note the gap along the edge of the roof where the paved area doesn't meet the edge. This is the root cause of such high levels of water ingress into the rooms below. Whilst there is a layer of pitch, it isn't enough to keep out the elements entirely. 



On the Roof.

ABOVE: There is a smaller cupola atop each of the two wings, to the left and right of the Main Cupola respectively. 

BELOW: The view looking back due East from the roof terrace just below the Main Cupola.

BELOW: The view looking back due West from the roof terrace just below the Main Cupola.


ABOVE: Incomplete ballustrade around the edge of what would, on completion, be a rtaher nice roof terrace. The girders mounted from the scaffolding were used to support lifting equipment to allow the extremely heavy corner blocks of the ballustrade to be lifted into place: they are single piece carved or cast blocks of reconstituted stone and must weigh a good half a tonne a piece. Note the unrendered breeze block wall on the right, which is already showing signs of its inability to cope with the elements - the wall surface is incomplete and probably never will be.

ABOVE: Completed ballustrade, which wouldn't look out of place in any stately home you'd care to mention. Note the lift gear room (completely open to the elements thus far) on the extreme right of the photo.

BELOW: The vast flat rooves were littered with pallets of the huge bannisters which formed the basis for the decorative parts of the ballustrades around the edges.

4 IMAGES, BELOW: These four images show the view looking out over the Western Arm of the building, from the same position on each floor - between first and fifth floors.The setting and surrounding countryside make for some lovely views. The brick arches to the front and rear of the wings are particularly impressive. Note the huge polystyrene formers used as templates for the arches, also the huge amounts of moss growing on the flat roof due to quite huge water ingress..




BELOW: In the upper floors of this building, there are some funny little rooms with some very peculiar window placements. No comment is made as to their intended purpose, but what is particularly noticeable about this room is that the window is made up as a curved unit, rather than as a box frame, unlike so many others on the ground and first floors. The brick arch must have taken considerable skill to produce it to the exact curve of the window frame.

BELOW: At various points around the first floor, we found pallets full of what appeared to be capping for the bannisters which form the ballustrades, the edges for roof terraces. The peculiar combination of Georgian style, scaffolding and breeze blocks is oddly satisfying in this shot. Note the covered Colonade beyond the windows.

BELOW: This view is taken from the 5th floor, looking out across the glass skylight at the top of the Main Staircase illustrated earlier in this report. The slope of the skylight can be seen on the bottom left, just beyond the ballustrade.

BELOW: Looking from the Western arm of the ground floor, across the grounds to the Boat House and the lake beyond.

BELOW: In the basement, the tall Georgian style windows are offset by these lovely round windows in the inset brickwork. They would look an incredible amount more impressive if the walls were rendered and finished - at present it looks like a very posh multi storey car park, sadly.

ABOVE: Hoping this is a wet & dry vacuum cleaner - there's a lot of water around this building in some places. It seems a little pointless anyone doing any hoovering until the place is completed...!

BELOW: A fantastic view from the ground floor, looking across the grounds to the Boat House and lake beyond. This would be fantastic on completion.

BELOW: "Still Life with Trolley & Hoover".



Salvage or Reproduction?

ABOVE: We are very impressed by the windows in this place - obviously designed to traditional guidelines, but cleverly designed to fit into a common aperture around the site.

BELOW: There were quite a few pallets of bricks in the sub-basement, but all of them  appeared to be specialised 'finishing bricks' i.e. for decorative edging and corners or capping. The particular type shown in this photo are quite expensive and difficult to obtain locally.

BELOW: Wraught iron fencing which we guess came from the original mansion on the estate. Patterns can be made from the original parts and from these patterns, moulds can be made in order to produce duplicates. These would look absolutely stunning around the estate if it were ever to be completed.

BELOW: Lots and lots of very specialised cast iron drainpipe parts, all stacked up in the sub-basement, possibly never to see the light of day unless the place is completed.

ABOVE & BELOW: There was a lot of pipework stacked up in the sub-basement, all of it cast iron.  It made for some rather good arty photos.

BELOW: This very pretty little ornamental structure is possibly the only link to the orientation of the original mansion on the estate and looks oddly reminiscent of Brighton's Chattri Memorial - with possible Indian or Chinese influences




BELOW: Dark, claustrophobic and a little bit creepy? Well no, not really. The sheer scale of this place belies any sense of claustrophobia and the rooves even in the sub-basement were at least 12foot up. It was very dark in places - this shot is taken in night vision.


ABOVE & BELOW: Arty shots of the stairs down to the sub-basement level.

BELOW: back in the good old days, any oiks or scallies found on the estate were chased around by hefty motherfuckers in a security Landrover with shotguns and huge dogs. When you couldn't run away any more, they would sit you in the dark in the basement at this desk and make you write lines: "I must not walk on public footpaths with big barns built across them on purpose to keep me out".

BELOW: Hewlett Packard design Jet 650C Plotter. These babies used to cost several thousand pounds when they first appeared and it is quite sad to see this one just gathering dust and discarded in a basement. The air was quite damp here, so it has probably rusted solid and is possibly quite useless. These machines are used to draw (or plot) scale plans and drawings of technical layouts, structural plans for example. I bet this machine was really busy at one time because the building's owner changed his demands like he changed his socks, much to the chagrin of the poor builders who had to realise his ideas...

BELOW: Looking extremely forlorn and lost in the half gloom, this little mini digger sits with a huge stack of industrial vacuum cleaners and paint tins. It's possible that the sub-basement has been leased to a local builder, but it's also equally likely that the items were just left after a huge bust-up with the contractors and the building's owner. Some of the larger equipment we found in this location has been walled into rooms with no obvious means of removal, so it could also have been a tactical move by builders to force the owner of the site to release monies owed. Note the construction of the windows: a lot of the more ornate configurations we found around the site are built into a square or rectangular box frame, that can then just be secured into an appropriately sized opening.

BELOW: Rising out of the darkness like some ancient sea monster from the tar pits of a forgotten age, this Landrover is in fair condition and must have originally been used for the purpose of chasing scallies and oiks off the grounds by muscle brained thugs with shotguns and large dogs.

BELOW: We can neither confirm nor deny that this is a security guard, nor that he is known to us. Again, the Landrover is in a walled up room in the sub-basement.

BELOW: Long discarded machines rise out of the stygian gloom... lawnmowers, mini diggers, quad bikes, plotters... Seems a shame to waste them, but they were all thoroughly walled in and the only way to remove them was either ram the walls or dismantle them and carry them up the stairs in pieces.

BELOW: This fantastic Quad bike has obviously been here some time as it has  two rear flat tyres and a fair layer of dust on the saddle.

BELOW: A reminder of the good old days, stuffed down the side of a box, in a corner, in the sub-basement...



Neglect - why it may never be finished.

ABOVE: These rooms are on the top floor just under the northern roof terrace. Whilst on the roof, we observed that the roof terrace wasn't complete and that the paving did not butt right up to the edge of the ballustrade, allowing water to leach underneath and through the layer of pitch underneath. Obviously, surveyors have been in at some time to assess the level of damp ingress through the roof: the rings drawn round the patches clearly represent the level of dampness through the roof and the date, 7th February 2001 shows that the problem has been in effect ever since. as nothing has been done in this time to stem the water ingress, it can only have worsened in the intervening period. We get the impression that the owner hasn't really been in any position to focus his attention on this project in the last decade, for various reasons...

BELOW: Blocks have been removed from the wall at odd points on this, the top level - possibly to see if the damp affects both the internal and external leaves of the wall, but could possibly also be done in order to inspect the integrity of wall ties or to check for any breaches of the air gap and integrity of wall insulation. We guess that the damp is the main problem here.

BELOW: This corner appeared to have particularly bad damp problems, as there were intersecting rings from different dates in 2001 and 2002. The plaster on the wall to the left of the hole is hollow and not attached, hence the radial crack on the left. The breeze blocks on the outer leaf of the wall could be moved by pushing them gently and the mortar is breaking up around the blocks. Pretty much every room on this level had some degree of damp from above and there would have to be some pretty extensive rebuilding work carried out in order to make it habitable. Given the quality of the brickwork seen here, we guess that a certain amount of demolition would also be required - not an easy fix.


ABOVE: The only completed room in the entire building is this Lift Equipment room. Already, the paint is peeling and there are signs of damp and neglect. The lifts do work, surprisingly: something fires up in the basement, but the lifts can't be called.