Cairndhu House, Co.Antrim, Northern Ireland, December 2018

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1. The History
Cairndhu House is situated near Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland. It was originally built for Mr Stewart Clark around 1878. A wealthy Scottish textile industrialist, Mr Clark. It replaced a farm built on the same site which, due to its close proximity to the coast, was called Seaview. The house comprised of two storeys and many gables built in a slightly Oriental style which included open-work barge-boards and a wooden veranda and balcony that ran for most of its frontage.

The building was extended around 1897 to the designs of Samuel P Close and again in 1906. His daughter, Edith, married Sir Thomas Dixon, who then subsequently purchased Cairndhu in 1918 and added the servants' dining hall. The Dixon family held many house and garden parties and entertained public dignitaries with grouse shooting in the Antrim Hills. The house had a large workforce that numbered 20 indoors staff, kitchen staff, ladies’ maids and upstairs staff. Sir Thomas kept livestock including a herd of dairy cows. Additionally, there were 21 gardeners and estate workers.

In better days:

45876737455_7ed142aa95_z.jpg 20190118_193145 by HughieDW, on Flickr

At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Sir Thomas (the then serving mayor of Larne) handed over the estate for use as a War Hospital Supply Depot while continuing to live in the house. A year later in 1940 Lady Dixon gave one of their three Rolls-Royces to be converted into an ambulance for the Larne A.R.P. Ambulance Service. Two years after the war, in 1947, Sir Thomas celebrated his 79th birthday. He brought his forty-year association with Cairndhu by donating their 60-room family home and 100-acres estate to the Ministry of Health and Local Government for use as a convalescent home and hospital. Three years later, in 1950, Sir Thomas died on holiday in Harrogate, aged 81. Later that year, Cairndhu officially opened as a convalescent hospital which remained open for the next 36 years. In 1986 funding difficulties meant that it was closed down by the Department of Health and Social Services. It then lay empty until 1995 when the Lord Rana purchased Cairndhu House and the surrounding gardens from the council. It remained unused and slipped into dereliction, being heavily vandalised and suffering a number of collapsed floors and water ingress due to holes in the roof, gaining a reputation as one of the most haunted houses in Northern Ireland.

46791906201_634f557ebf_z.jpg 20190118_193813 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In 2015, parts of Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller Morgan were filmed at the house. A public consultation was to be held in May 2018, over plans to develop the site of the derelict mansion into 'retirement village' facilities including an 80-bedroom nursing home including the retention and restoration of the stable block at a cost of around £25-£30million.

2. The Explore
Had seen this place pop up in a few reports so when it transpired, we were holidaying just down the road I got up early one mild December morning to check the place. Out after parking in the near by country-park car park, a brief five-minute stroll saw me reach my quarry. With security gate wide open and metal sheeting ripped off the main door, it was an easy access explore. The place itself is completely trashed and many of the floors have either fallen through are a very shady. Hence, I declined to venture up-stairs, instead opting to take more time viewing its ornate facades. With talk of grand and expensive restoration projects it remains to be seen if these transpire before it is either burnt down or falls down. Hopefully it will be the former as it is a lovely looking building and well worth and hour or so of exploring time.

3. The Pictures

The view that greets you having walked through the open security gates:

46637860701_73e5ec3c85_b.jpg img0296 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Moving clock-wise around the house:

46585680582_3cc9dc8385_b.jpg img0295 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46637912181_3e5d1c4d2c_b.jpg img0294bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Where’s Romeo and Juliet when you need them?

46583636842_34e103b1ec_b.jpg img0245 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46583598442_2738e64665_b.jpg img0246 by HughieDW, on Flickr

32763606358_45028f51d1_b.jpg img0291 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45723447365_262c261671_b.jpg img0290bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

45721158755_cd1f0432f0_b.jpg img0250 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46635869651_7d5329b586_b.jpg img0249 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The former stable block:

45914101154_39f34dfec0_b.jpg img0258 by HughieDW, on Flickr

31697228517_c6841702cc_b.jpg img0263 by HughieDW, on Flickr

31697267747_946e48a8d3_b.jpg img0259 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45914004654_e6d9189bab_b.jpg img0264 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45914174794_2394ef0492_b.jpg img0255 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In we go:

46638036771_c892b63d8b_b.jpg img0287 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46638358551_8a31bd44af_b.jpg img0270 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46638395661_eca9527325_b.jpg img0269 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45723874465_cfcbb81130_b.jpg img0268 by HughieDW, on Flickr

31697134047_5d1690bc9f_b.jpg img0267 by HughieDW, on Flickr

It’s pretty trashed, and, of course has the obligatory knob’ graffiti:

31696819707_fa0697f01a_b.jpg img0286 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Nope – this isn’t supposed to be an atrium:

39673264533_bf16d35f87_b.jpg img0285 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46586020782_abcb90cefb_b.jpg img0274bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

31696934577_b4cabf4920_b.jpg img0276 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And equally predictably, it’s been relieved of all of its fireplaces:

46638167401_5210e1a069_b.jpg img0281 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And its radiators need a bit of attention:

46638229011_65f3dc0986_b.jpg img0275 by HughieDW, on Flickr

32763803738_9f2e848b4b_b.jpg img0279 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some of the old wooden paneling survives:

46638291981_b3b588a79f_b.jpg img0272 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Up to the second floor? Maybe not…

45913837944_dd91878fc5_b.jpg img0271 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Hugh Jorgan

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Looking at the outside of the house I was admiring the woodwork and how it was put together. But looking at the inside is a different story it looks very dangerous, missing staircases and floors. At least you captured a good lot of pics.


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Damn. Such a shame how buildings can be left to rot like that - wish I could afford to waste one like that.
What's frustrating about the whole thing is the family rebuilt and extended the site. They employed so many locals. Not just directly but indirectly too. Come the war they were incredibly generous and gave up what had (partly) made them wealthy. The result of that is outright negligence. (getting quite angry here so best stop..)

What a fab place. I can see the potential as a rest home yes. It has potential, big potential. Shame about the wooden internals but I suppose a lot would (wood?) have been replaced anyway due to age. It still retains some gorgeous features - the glass ceiling for example - smacks of that electricity control room.

I only have one question: What on Earth is that machine? Toilet? Oven? TV set?

This is an awesome report. Thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks for sharing :)


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Aug 6, 2018
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Very good report, thanks for posting. You should have tried it at night - it's terrifying! The place is allegedly the "most haunted house in Northern Ireland".


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Yeah the woodwork is something else, such a shame I would imagine it wont be saved!