I have always loved the mystery that a ruined place creates. They are on one hand like a blank page on which I can jot down any story that my imagination likes and then on the other they of course already have a real history to discover. Real characters and real events. The past halted in time by decay.
On high ground known as Tonkin Downs, close to Castle-an-dinas, there is the remains of an old farmhouse. It has no roof, it is now open to the elements and it’s glassless windows stare blank-eyed out across Mount’s Bay. It is all that remains of all it’s past owners planning as they sat beside the fireplace that once glowed with hot coals.
This building has stood empty since 1953 when its last family left, driven out by the blasting noise from the near-by quarry. As I stand at the empty thresh-hold I wonder if they still locked the front door when they left for that last time.
On the surface this would have been a wonderful place to live. The views are breath-taking and even now with the quarry’s activity still rumbling you are surrounded by space and birdsong. But even before the arrival of the earth-shaking quarry I expect that a life farming here would have been particularly tough, especially in the winter. The ground is poor, only cleared relatively recently by the hopeful James Hosking in 1813, and there is very little between this farm and the harsh elements.
The last people to live at Castle-an-dinas Farm were the Wooldridge family, before them was William and Christine Pearce and their 4 children and before them William Martin and his family. Generations of hands that pushed open the yard gate, rubbed their chilblains in front of the Rayburn or pressed fresh white plaster to the walls. Until finally they are all gone.
The ghostly sadness of an empty home jostles oddly with my enjoyment of poking about someone else’s house and day-dreaming the forgotten life of this shell of a cottage.
For more atmospheric places to visit try: Those Ruined places: Merther