Paradise Lost: The Crumbling English Manor House Where John Milton Once Lived

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Image: Josephine Pugh

“The house was so full of personal effects that it had an eerie stillness without the owners being there.”

These are the words photographer Josephine Pugh uses to describe the atmosphere of this derelict manor house in Berkshire, which was abandoned 26 years ago after its last inhabitant died at the age of 96. The present house was built in 1848 on the site of an earlier manor that is said to have been rented in the early 1600s by the poet John Milton. Milton, of course, wrote Paradise Lost – a phrase that could well apply to this once magnificent but now rundown dwelling.


Image: Josephine Pugh

Anyone who’s walked around an old, abandoned house knows the strange sensation you get while peering into the private space of previous inhabitants. And the feeling of unease is even stronger if the house – like this one – is still crammed full of furniture and personal possessions that offer clues into the lives and characters of the long-departed occupants.

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Image: Josephine Pugh

Like a lot of urban explorers, Josephine Pugh prefers not to name the house, as it’s currently not open to the public. She doesn’t want to encourage the wholesale exploration of the site – particularly by those who, through carelessness or intent, might damage the already deteriorating house and its contents.

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