image ©2009 Trevor Litchfield

We all pass derelict buildings from time to time in our lives but this one I pass every day on my way to work. Every day it gives me the creeps!

Oh, it feels OK on a nice sunny day, blue sky’s, fluffy clouds and it looks like any other old derelict building but walk past it on a misty morning, or a dank twilight evening and it takes on a different demeanour altogether! The windows appear alive, yet they are boarded up. You get the feeling that someone is behind those boards, watching you pass. They know you’re worst fears and nightmares, they know all there is to know about you and how to scare the living crap out of you the minute your back is turned.

Remembering all this makes it not so nice even on a sunny day, fluffy white clouds scudding across the blue sky.

Then there are the stories the locals tell, probably to scare each other in the pub on a Sunday night when nothing else is getting their attention. I am not a local and the first time I heard these stories was about eight months after I moved into my house less than fifty yards from the derelict building. Until then I had taken no real notice of the place apart from thinking what a shame it was that such a lovely old building lay derelict.

According to the local tales the old building was used for anything from an old workhouse to a school. Every time a story is told it seems to add to the air of mystery surrounding the place. I’m sure it was used for something sensible once but the stories!

One story tells when it was a workhouse over a hundred years ago, it was for women and children only. If fathers were involved they lived in an unnamed else where. The stories tell of depraved rites and rituals brought on these women and children by the all male founded charity that was supposed to fund the workhouse. Things like devil worship and human sacrifices! This charity still exists today in the town, they are a secret order and no one really knows who is involved but the rumours abound about it’s rituals even today. The charity owns a very expansive plot of land which is surrounded by high brick walls with the most beautiful house built on the plot. Not that anyone can see this house, the walls are too high and inside the boundary it is tree lined to about fifty or sixty feet deep. The only entrance in a big gate that never seems to get opened yet the track is freshly cut and tidy.

Then there are the stories about the old building being some sort of sanatorium. Mad people doing crazy things within the grounds. These days they are not called crazy people but when you hear the stories, they were crazy people in this place. Deformed, malnourished, non human like appearances, the sort of stuff you hear about extra terrestrials these days. I think about these stories knowing that they cannot be anything other than fiction. I mean the fences just are not strong enough, even now in it’s dereliction, the fences are only old rusty wire fences, nothing to hold in the crazy at all!

Finally, and most disturbingly, there are the stories about it being an old school. Domineering teachers, wicked and cruel headmasters. Brutal beatings for the kids that attended this place yet no one telling the stories ever knew anyone that attended it as a school. One tale tells of a child locked in a cupboard for some trivial misdemeaner, weeks later his decomposed body was found in the cupboard by a builder doing some repairs inside the school. Come on, I’m gullible but not that gullible!

Yet every time I walk past the place, all the stories from the pub on a Sunday night come alive. I do see satanists dancing in the gardens. I do see crazies walking around with two heads, I do see poor beaten children lounging by the door. My imagination takes flight on those misty, foggy days when I walk past the derelict building. I wish I could find a different route to work!

©2011 Trevor Litchfield



  1. Scary. You capture the essence of it well. 🙂

    • I’ve had this photo on my PC since I took it a couple of years ago and I always thought it would make a decent short if I put my mind to it.
      Thanks for commenting Neha 🙂

  2. Sounds like inspiration for a novel to me! I don’t mind most derelict buildings, except for the fact they seem sad and lonely. One time in a desert area of Nevada whilst on holiday, I stopped outside this old derelict building. Across the road there were a few women weaving and selling beautiful blankets. There was something about the building that made me feel very uncomfortable, it too was boarded up and it was a very sunny summery day. After talking to the women, I learned the building was used as a place where Native American boys were brought when they were taken away from their families in an attempt to “get the savage out of them”. Apparently, they had their heads shaved and scrubbed with brushes as soon as they would arrive and their treatment did not improve much after that. Whether it was true or just a powerful story telling, I never found out. I cringed every single day that week as I passed the building though.

    • 1500 words is about my limit so if you fancy taking up the novel rights 😉
      I quite like old buildings and took loads of photos of such when I had a decent camera a few years ago. Many sit on my PC, i may make more use of them as time goes by.

  3. Indigo Spider

     /  June 30, 2011

    Funny, some of those stories, such as the child left in the cupboard, I have heard said about derelict buildings around here! Hmmm… 😉

    First, I may “steal” your photo for a future Sunday Picture Press! Seriously, it is a great photo that I think could inspire some fascinating stories if you don’t mind if I used it. Second, even without hearing any stories, I think my imagination would have me finding a different way to work, just the photo makes me scared.

    There is an old insane asylum not far from where I live, was very large, has underground tunnels, even had its own train stop. At its height it had thousands of residents, doctors, nurses, administration, etc. They had their own farm, garden and basically worked as its own self-supporting city. They even had their own graveyard, for both staff and patients. It was shut down in the early ’90s and prior to the shutdown there were no horror stories of any kind. Supposedly, even in the early days back in the late 1800s when it first opened, they were considered cutting edge and treated patients well. Now, since it is closed, the stories abound about the horrors that happened behind those walls and how the tormented souls still wander the halls. All I can say is that even when it was still running it was a frightening place to pass, all dark brick and Gothic looking, and now that it is abandoned I think even the ghosts are too frightened to stay!

    It goes to show that no matter where you go, what the true history of a building may be, if it looks scary in any way then horror stories will creep up around them. I will still cross the street just to be sure, though 😉 Great post.

    • You’re more than welcome to use the photo Indigo Spider. It is a photo of an old school, I know several people that attended it when it was open and all say what a great place it was to be educated. My words are complete fiction about the building though we all hear such stories about abandoned and derelict buildings all the time. I just thought the image deserved a story that was a bit creepy, I’m certain others would do better than me.

    • I reckon I could do 1500 words on that photo prompt! The scary locals stories are already fine fruit ready to be picked and mashed into a story!

      I’d be so tempted to take a stroll up to the building and get a peek inside. Naturally I’d run 100 miles if I saw an eyeball staring back at me, but man, what a rush!

      • I’m happy that the photo might inspire you so much noobcake, if Indigo Spider uses it I look forward to reading what it inspires in you.

  4. I am thinking of all the lives of folks who walked the rooms of this old derelict building. Sounds like there was probably suffering as well as some learing, and maybe lots that we can only guess at. Quite fascinating.

    Thank you!

    • As far as I’m aware, the true history of the building is very different from my fictional one but I’m pleased you enjoyed the read.

  5. Well, Trev, you wrote the story so well that I firmly believed it. I was about to tell you to move if necessary so you didn’t have to go past that house.

    I do believe that derelict buildings have an energy in them that is representative of the kind of life and living that went on in there prior to it becoming derelect.

    Here in Saskatchewan there are hundreds of abandoned farmhouses, left by settlers who couldn’t make a go of it in this harsh climate. When we pass them I often wonder what kind of life went on and why the house is so deserted and in such poor shape. Some are sad, some are scary and some are even hopeful. Did the people leave for a better clime and time?

    Anyhow, loved your story.

    • Thanks Sandra,
      We have lots of suburban decay in this country, very little out in the countryside though you will come across the odd building that will offer moments of deep thought about what may have happened within the walls.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed my little tale.

  6. Superb moody tale, Trevor, I love ghost stories and the like. I stayed in a hotel that used to be a sanitarium or asylum (or something) in Birmingham several years ago, and my thoughts were similar to the way you describe the tales being told…

    • Thanks Tom. I’ve never stayed in anything like that to my knowledge, a few coaching houses I’ve stayed in were full of tales as you would expect. I’m not keen on ghost or horror stories, I prefer stories that leaves the imagination running wild 😉

  7. Imagination is a fantastic thing Trevor, and when tales are told added to what could possibly be true makes for a hop, skip or a leap into horror… {{{shivers}}} … Maybe lack of imagination is a good thing sometimes, but trouble is I’ve always been prone to let mine lead me into scream mode… So, I’ll leave you with your ponderings ‘cos this woman wants to sleep tonight, without hiding under t’duvet!! (my summer one….’tis very light !!) xPenx

    • My mind goes from calm to scream mode with this sort of story quite quickly, which is why I’ve not added too much detail, it leaves the readers imagination to do the rest 🙂
      I hope you slept easy Pen

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