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Crowther - From the Case Files of John Hampton, Paranormal Investigator and Urban Explorer

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John Hampton is retired and his hobbies are urban exploring and investigating the paranormal. Hampton gets more than he bargained for when he explores the abandoned mansion, Crowther Hall, it's family church and the deserted village of Crowther. The first case in the case files of John Hampton.

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Chapter 1


As it was a lovely sunny day, I had decided that I would take a long leisurely walk and see what I could explore on my journey. In my back pack I had two packs of sandwiches, and two bottles of sparkling water, a digital camera and a guide book of good walks. Before I set off from my home, I picked a route that I had never taken before. Some of the areas marked down in the guide book interested and intrigued me. I noted down in my small notebook a number of buildings indicating that they were old manor houses, old churches, and also a couple of standing stones and a few burial mounds.

Now being the kind of person who loves old buildings, I made myself get up early so I could get a good light as I wanted to get great shots of the old buildings. After checking the all-day weather I shouldered my back pack and wearing good walking boots and a light jacket I left the house. I must point out that I am also an investigator of the paranormal, and over the years I have visited old deserted mansions, churches and derelict buildings on dark nights. So the thought of looking around abandoned buildings during the day was even more intriguing.

As I live in a town called Thurston I had to take a bus to another town called Blackheath Marsh, and then from there walk about two miles before I reached the countryside, and as I did I began to feel relaxed and content. Birds were gracing the blue cloudless sky and the sun shone brightly. After another hour of walking I needed a drink of water and stopped at a stile and dipped into my back pack for a bottle of water. Gulping down the fresh sparkling drink I spied what appeared to be an old building in the distance. I took out a pair of binoculars and turning the focus in and out I gradually saw that it was an old manor house. It looked in disrepair with trees growing up along its sides. I could also see that a number of windows had been boarded up. Stepping over the stile I made my way across the field of long grass, which I imagined would have been a farmer’s field. I had to veer to the right and onto a pathway that had seen better days as there appeared to be a fence running along the length of the field that had barbed wire across the length of it.

Continuing along the overgrown path my eyes darted this way and that looking at the twisted old trees that grew along the pathway to the hall and for any movement, any sign of life. One has to be careful when encroaching on derelict buildings as they can be used for shelter by homeless people, who would rather not be disturbed. Anyhow, I continued walking towards the once grand house and at once was taken in by the architecture. What a beautiful building it was but as I continued walking the pathway towards the house, I had a feeling of being watched by someone or something unseen. I stopped to retrieve the camera from my back pack and began to focus in on the building and began clicking away. The light and shadows were perfect and I was more than happy with the results. The feeling of being watched faded and I continued to walk the pathway until I was in front of the house. I pondered on who might have lived there years ago and took out my guide book to see that it was called and why it was now in disrepair. The guide book stated that it was Crowther Hall and was once the family home of Sir Humphrey Crowther. It had fallen into neglect after the family lineage died out. As well as the old hall itself, there appeared to be out buildings, which could have been stables or sheds for the gardeners equipment back in the day.

I was eager to get inside the house but as a rule, if a house is securely locked up a person does not force entry into it. The large double doors were covered in grime and cobwebs and were securely locked so venturing along the front of the house I peeped through one of the large bay windows and could just about see through the years of grime. I spotted some old furniture and bookcases that still had books on some of the shelving. Continuing on to the side of the building I spotted a side door that had the word ‘Kitchen’ in white lettering on what appeared to be a brass plate screwed securely under a frosted window. I pushed it inwards but would not open. Onward I walked towards the other side of the building and here a found a door that was slightly ajar, vines grew from above the lintel of the doorway partially covering the doorway. Pushing it a little I felt the door give, so pushed a bit more, this time putting my shoulder to the door. It creaked as I pushed it open, possibly the first time this door had been open in decades. I peeked inside at what appeared to be a hallway. Pulling out my torch and flicking it on I scanned the hallway and could see that at the end of it, there appeared to be a stained glass window that amazingly had not been smashed by vandals, maybe even vandals appreciate excellent workmanship. There appeared to be rooms leading off from the hallway.

As I walked into the building I felt a little nervous and apprehensive and moved as quietly as I could through the debris on the floor. Scanning the staircase I felt that this could be the back staircase, possibly used by servants to get up and down from their quarters high in the attic rooms, as in a house of this size and grandeur it must have a large oak staircase somewhere. I walked through the first open door and found it to be the kitchen area. The kitchen still contained its huge cast iron stove and over to the right stood a large Belfast sink, the inside of which, was covered in moss and a few dead spiders. I spotted a doorway that was ajar and peeking in, I could see stairs descending into the darkness. This must have been the entrance to the basement. Dare I go down and look I thought to myself. Taking up the mantel, I switched on my torch and slowly descended the worn stone steps. Cobwebs hung in thick clumps and I could imagine many spiders crawling around them or just waiting to pounce on a fly. Thankfully spiders and cobwebs don’t bother me so I continued to the bottom. As I scanned the area, I could see that the basement consisted of a long passageway that had rooms leading off it. Taking out my camera I began in earnest to take some atmospheric shots, and then looked around some of the rooms, I then decided to go back up to the main floor.

The next door took me to a small room which contained a lot of hooks that appeared to be a closet to hang coats. I walked through the third door into a large spacious living room. It was the room I could see from outside. I felt a sadness come over me to think that such a wonderful room could be left to rot. The wall that housed the book cases, which went from one end to the other and up to the ceiling, appeared to be damp and decaying. Some of the shelves had collapsed and the books which had fallen were mouldy with the dampness. It was a very sad sight to someone who loves books, as I do. I spotted a book on one of the shelves and noted that it bore the title, ‘Crowther – The History of the Crowther Family’. The book was in remarkably good condition considering its age and that most of the books lying on the floor and shelves were in a very poor state. I grabbed the book and opening it, I flicked through its pages. This book appealed to me greatly, I undid my backpack and shoved the book inside. I couldn’t leave it there to end up like the rest of the books, damp and rotting.

I walked towards the far end of the room and I saw another door that was closed. Turning the doorknob, it opened with a gentle creak, this led to the main reception area and here was the grand oak staircase. It looked like it was in good shape and solid enough to walk up. Taking photos of it I visualised ladies and gentlemen walking down them in their finest evening wear. Should I endeavour to ascend the stairs or should I move to the other end of the house. I wanted to see what the other main room held so I ventured into it before going up the stairs. The other main room was in a sorry state, obviously someone had deemed it necessary to vandalise it. A grand piano stood ruined, its lid was scratched and the keys had been smashed. Paint had been daubed over the walls and obscene words were scrawled across them. I felt saddened by this room and left after taking a few photos. I felt I had had enough of the place and decided that I would not venture any further within this once great mansion and walked out the way I came. As I walked back down the pathway, I once again felt like I was being watched by someone but did not turn back to look.

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