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Thread: The Grotto House, Lower Basildon August 2018

  1. #1
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    Default The Grotto House, Lower Basildon August 2018


    You know that feeling you get when you step inside somewhere you've wanted to see for absolutely years? That happened to me here. I have wanted to see inside this manor house pretty much ever since I started exploring so to finally step foot inside here was a pretty nice moment for me.

    The Grotto House or Basildon Grotto was built in 1720 by Viscount Fane of Basildon Park for his wife Lady Mary Fane who was a Maid of Honour for Queen Anne. The original much smaller house was attached to a 'grotto' elaborately decorated with shells and an adjoining 'rock room' for Lady Fane's 'retirement and pleasure'. After the Basildon estate was sold to the Sykes family in 1771, the original Basildon Park manor house was torn down and The Grotto House was substantially altered and expanded in size - although this involved the dismantling and removal of the original shell grotto that gave the house it's name. The Sykes family, who had built a new house on the site of the former Basildon Park Manor then leased the extended Grotto House to various families over the ensuing years. When the last member of the Sykes family died in 1875, the house was bought by a long term tenant Arthur Smith who subsequently became the High Sheriff of Berkshire.

    It remained a family home until 1953 when the last occupiers sold it to the Institute of Park & Recreation Administration (later known as ILAM - Institute of Leisure Amenity Management) who used it as their head offices and training college. It stayed in use until around 2007 when ILAM left the premises and it was sold to a new owner. It appeared that they started work on the building at some point as the end of one of the wings is stripped right back to bare brick, however it doesn't appear to have gotten off the ground and I presume it was after the work stopped that the steel shutters went up over every floor except the very top.

    Inside it is obvious that a lot of the damage done to the fabric of the building was done when there was work being undertaken on it, all the pipework and plumbing has been removed and there are various holes knocked here and there but it's still surprisingly solid inside with no rotten floors to speak of. On wandering around it really did remind me of Lillesden in terms of the general condition, internal colours and architecture - the building is a proper maze with stairs going off in all sorts of random directions to different areas with all the extensions added over the years.







































    Thanks for looking :)
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  4. #2
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    Still has some nice decorative features. Looks small on the outside but different on the inside.
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Jorgan View Post
    Still has some nice decorative features. Looks small on the outside but different on the inside.
    It's definitely not the prettiest from the outside - actually the rear of the house facing the river is a lot more attractive, but it's a real labyrinth inside.
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  7. Thanks given by: Hugh Jorgan
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    Such a shame brill pics thanks for sharing

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    Hi I saw your post after searching history on The Grotto. My Mum, Grandparents and Uncle lived, grew up and worked in The Grotto for 20 years. This is also where we were luckily enough to spread my grandfather's ashes. This Grotto means so much to us and it's such a shame it's now like this. Wondering how you managed to get in and we would love to go back inside the grounds instead of the other side of the bank! We were given permission five years ago to get in but it's proving difficult to find out who owns it now. We walked along the Thames just three days ago and part of the wall now has graffiti on. We absolutely love to win the lottery & restore it!

  10. #6
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    Excellent shots, you captured the place very well. I had a good nose around here last year. Like you it had been on my list for ages after my friend spotted it from the other side of the river!
    Jay
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    Some of the interiors here are just beautiful. Didn't expect that after the first photo :D

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    Seen it from across the river and I think it was in Jerome K jeromes book three men in a boat. Nice work
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    Quote Originally Posted by mookster View Post


    The Grotto House or Basildon Grotto was built in 1720 by Viscount Fane of Basildon Park for his wife Lady Mary Fane who was a Maid of Honour for Queen Anne.

    Mary wasn't actually his wife but his eldest daughter. Mary was the wife of Jerome Count de Salis. Charles Viscount Fane's second daughter (Mary's sister of course) was Lady Sandwich - wife of the one who invented the sandwich!

    Charles Viscount Fane died without a male heir and on 11th December 1835 King George III issued a Royal Warrant allowing the de Salis famnily to have the surnames "Fane de Salis" and "De Salis".

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    I oddly quite like this! Cheers for posting them up Mook!
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