The Abandoned Manor
...also known as Potters Manor, was build in 1904 bythe classical architect Hugh Jokin. It nestles well hidden near the village of Nevertell.The last inhabitants were a family of artisans; James Walford and his wife Muriel, who lived in the house together till James passed away. Muriel now lives in a nursing home - 104 years old.
With a passion and talent for plants and flowers, Muriel grew orchids in the gardens and outhouses of the house, and James painted them. This became a book about orchids; full of James' watercolour paintings. The book was only printed in 500 signed copies and is still available as a collectors item.
At one point, the eccentric couple decided they wanted more privacy, and started to buy all the neighouring houses. Despite their grand fortune, the couple later had to sell the properties, however Muriel still owns a nearby derelict farm, which has been in her possession for over 60 years and will continue to be so, till her death.
James and Muriel even sold their own house to no other than David Bowie. The deposit was paid and the papers signed, but when David Bowie ended up in a messy divorce, he had to pull out of the sale. James and Muriel who had deeply regretted selling the house moved back in, and kept the deposit.
The couple never had children, and the remaining family had no interest in maintaining the house. It is now left abandoned, waiting for an investor to demolish it and build a new property on the 11 acres of land.
All quotes are by James and Muriel's great niece.
- Will You Be There When We Walk On Bright Red Carpet?
"I remember Muriel showing me the button under the carpet in the dining room, placed so whoever was sat at the head of the table could step on it and it rang a bell in the kitchen. I'm kind of assuming they must have had staff at some stage, as I feel sure Muriel would never have lifted a finger if she could help it! She grew up in colonial India, with a whole raft of house servants."
- In The Memory You'll Find Me, Eyes Burning Up, The Darkness Holding Me Tightly, Until The Sun Rises Up
"I remember it was always an amazing experience going to visit Jim and Muriel - we had to dress up posh, and we always stopped at a garden centre on the way to buy Murie some plants, she adored plants."
- And I Know I Got The Whole World At My Feet, In My Window Seat
"It was always the same: drinks before lunch, and Jim would pour the most enormous cocktails (he never asked what you wanted, you got what we now call The Walford ) for everyone and a teeny whiskey for himself, which he then knocked back in one, and sat drumming his fingers impatiently for everyone to finish so we could eat ."
- A Million Light Reflections Pass Over Me, The Source Is Bright And Endless
"Murie was completely batty, and utterly wonderful! She doted on animals - she had a black labrador called Rover, which she always called "Rovie" in a very high pitched voice. She fed the garden birds so much they were completely tame - not on bird food mind, oh no, on blanched peanuts and raisins from M&S!"
- And Where The Traveller Goes, Nobody Knows
"Apparently she and my great aunt ran away from home in the 20's and high-tailed round Europe as 'exotic dancers' - she had a lovely photo of herself from this time, looking dazzlingly glamourous, which she showed to everyone - the obligatory answer was 'You haven't changed a bit'."
- We're Such A Long Way Up From The Ground
"After lunch, it was table tennis time - looking back, Jim was so patient! Playing table tennis with a giggly 9 year old, he spent more time hunting under the chairs for the ball than actually playing. Then I'd be allowed to disappear off and explore the grounds for what felt like hours until someone came looking so we could have afternoon tea, or so Jim could sketch me."
- If I Were A Painting, Captured On Canvas, Alone In The Portrait I Would Stand
"We have lots of his pencil sketches, and he usually pressed my parents to choose a pottery something too to take back with us. Jim was a true gentleman and Murie was quite a stunner, and very theatrical. She called everyone 'darling'."
- Model Shots
Concept model shots with Laura Powell and Gina Soden.
- She Was Dark At The Top Of The Stairs
- And I Recognise The Face Behind The Mask
- Throw Away Your Television
- We'll Fly High Above The Ground, Me And You
- So We Wait For The Morning To Wake You
- From Within, A Dim Light Cast, Two Silhouettes On The Shade
- Where The Traveller Goes, A Cold Wind Blows