Yesterday when I stopped at the final church before heading home from Man’s, I found myself in quite a strange location.
I was looking for St John the Baptist Church at Mongewell and, having driven for what seemed like ages down this tiny, single track road, I parked by a bridleway and followed the signs.
Through a metal gate I found a large tended grassed area and lake of some sort of estate, that was littered with deserted buildings.
It looked like some sort of abandoned government facility.
I stuck to the path and followed the signs to the church, where I took some photos but this deserted place spooked me a little so I didn’t explore further, I just visited the little part-derelict church I had stopped to see and then left. I did, however, see a sign directing the way to a synagogue.
When I got home I googled it and discovered I had been at Carmel College.
I had heard of the college but didn’t know very much about it.
It was a Jewish boarding school, quite an expensive one and, so a little research told me, believed to be the only Jewish boarding school in Europe.
It opened in 1948 and closed in 1997 when it was sold for development.
But apparently there was a dispute over how cheaply the land had been sold and the site has been in abandoned stasis for the last 15 years.
Now I know I have a vivid imagination but it was really quite strange wandering around this place where the buildings weren’t derelict, they were just old and deserted, it felt like I’d discovered a weird Mary Celeste type place.
Some of the buildings on the site are grade II listed, so a little trawl on the internet tells me, including a concrete synagogue and an amphitheatre. And the main mansion (according to Wikipedia) is famous for being the location that Agatha Christie used as the basis for the mansion in The Mousetrap.
And apparently staff still live on/around to ensure the site is secure.
So now I would like to explore a little more,
But if I do, I will take Man with me because I didn’t feel entirely comfortable wandering around on my own.