St. Joseph's RC Seminary, Upholland, near Wigan. VERY IMAGE INTENSIVE!
This site is tucked up tighter than the proverbial gnat's chuff! We first saw Chewy's report from a couple of years ago and were absolutely astounded - it has serious wow factor - so we nipped across one rainy Sunday a few weeks back and drew an absolute blank in terms of finding a way in because there were active CCT cameras everywhere and a security presence on site. We got eaten alive by mosquitos and I was nettled so badly my legs were red for days. Serves me right for urb-exing in shorts! Anyhow, I must confess I have a dilemna now because I'm not quite sure if we "urb-exed" it today in the traditional sense... You see, the interior of this building is now totally inaccessible without breaking and entering, and that's just not what it's about at the end of the day. But we got in - I'm not at liberty to disclose my methods of persuasion, suffice it to say it did not involve money or peculiar sexual favours - and we were escorted around by a security guard who was extremely pleasant and only too happy to show us his domain!
This amazing building was a Roman Catholic school for wannabe priests as I understand it. It was eventually closed down in but has been kept in a reasonable state of maintenance and there is very little water damage or rot in a large part of the building. We did not see a great deal of the interior sadly but I hope to return again in the not too distant future.
We commenced our trip with a walk around the exterior marvelling at the early Victorian architecture. Sadly there are one or two much later extensions which were built with no regard to the original and they stick out like a sore thumb as a consequence. At one end of the building there is a traditional church. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with mixed deciduous woodland, playing fields and miniature lakes, and although they are quite overgrown they are NOT as bad as you would expect, having an aspect more of maturity rather than that of abandoned wilderness. The lawns are clearly cut regularly and we even found a ride on mower parked behind an outbuilding!
So... here we go. I hope you enjoy these!
The approach is up a long drive which is closed at the main road. The new security cabin (security "lived" within the building until November last year) can be seen nestling behind the entrance portico.
The exterior of the church at the far end of the building.
Here's the exterior entrance to the church. "Corrie" filmed the funeral of a character here quite recently - there's no point me trying to remember who because the name went in one ear and straight out the other the minute I heard the word "Corrie"! The church can also be accessed from within the building.
A view of one aspect of the double-sided clock.
You often see these perched on top of old Victorian buildings, especially hospitals. I think they act as a sort of passive air conditioner.
The inner square of the seminary was inaccesible to us however we could see the statuary over the wire and a wooden fence.
The front of the building is still largely untouched apart from some boarding up where it has been chavved. The back however shows significant signs of partial demolition having been carried out at some point. The back is also much more heavily chavved and there was hardly a window left intact. Sad when you think many were stained glass and quite beautiful.
We found what we took at first to be a war memorial but of course this is a secular site so it proved to be a small graveyard of former RC bishops and assorted clergy.
Amazing to see an astronomical observatory on this corner of the building! The telescope is gone and security told us that water damage in this corner is very extensive.
We are inside now. This is the main corridor which runs the whole length of the front of the building down to the church.
On the first floor we are in the library now. This was quite some library as it also ran for most of the length of one side of the building. That's some serious number of books!
A spiral staircase ascends to the second floor from within the library. It seemed very wobbly!!!
The windows are filthy so sadly this piccie has a smear centre of frame but I think the view of the quad is worth showing it. Considering this is an unoccupied site the lawns are in a far better state than mine!
The inner aspect of the clock within the quad.
Ornate woodwork... superb quality!
Light switches, side by side, not one atop the other, and each with a cross cast in the brass plate. Such attention to detail!
At the top of the spiral staircase is a room with what appear to be yet more book shelves!
The top of the staircase. The table on it's side in the background is a very solid piece of furniture.
The way down...
Yet more glorious wood panelling.This is the interior of the entrance from under the portico at the front of the building
What would woodwork of this quality cost today?
The stairs down from the first floor back to the main corridor.
Whilst the interior decor is quite austere fireplaces are magnificently finished. Apparently this room was used recently by the BBC for a shoot with Eddy Izzard and was painted to suit. Most of the other rooms we saw were finished in off white.
I'm not sure what this is!
First view as we enter the church.
What can I say?
A closer view...
Slightly more subdued but none the less entrancing...
Looking down the length of the church interior towards the altar.
It's very hard to capture stained glass as it appears to the eye...
"Churchianity" in all it's glory...
The rope that pulls the bell that summons the faithful to prayer...
I think this room is what is called the vestry? As in getting dressed for service. there were racks of dinner plates on the floor here though I can't think why for the life of me!
Detail of the cupboard drawers in the vestry.
I wonder what a corporal is when the word is employed in this sense?
Directions are few and far between. This was one of the very few we saw.
More power Igor!!! Awesome knife switches on one of the fuse boards. Most of the building's power is shut off as you would expect but there are some exterior lights live together with one set of rooms which had previously been occupied by security until the increasing damp has forced them outside into a portacabin.
The whole building has been constructed in such a way as to maximise natural light.
This is the entrance to a small suite of bathrooms. It was apparently used on the Izzard shoot as a dungeon by the simple addition of some bars.
A delightful example of "all mod cons" Victorian style! Showers were not extraordinarily common back then I don't suppose.
The pleasing contrast of Virginia Creeper over red sandstone...
An ornamental lake on the way back down the drive.
...and finally the way out!
We hope you liked these pix!!! Thanks for looking.
Veni, Vidi suum custos canis admorsus meus culus...
Last edited by TeeJF; 11th Jul 11 at 19:03.
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