B476 Cliveden Road, Taplow, Berkshire
The Eastern Facade
find it hard to believe that there isn't a single mention of Taplow
Lodge elsewhere on the web. Not one. This is all the more intriguing
when you consider that, as I have stated on many occasions, it was
arguably more impressive than the CRCMH itself. I would even go so
far as to say that, for the sheer sight of it, Taplow Lodge was easily
one of the country's finest abandoned buildings. But perhaps the major
reason for this lack of general acknowlegement is that it no longer
exists. The site - dead opposite the CRCMH on the other side of the
Cliveden Road - was bulldozed and turned into the upper-class "Orkney
Lodge" housing estate (presumably named after Lord Orkney - a
former owner of Cliveden, responsible amongst other things for planting
the woods around the CRCMH) sometime during late 1995. That the destruction
of such a building was ever allowed to happen borders on being criminal.
Location of Taplow Lodge - CRCMH on left
Lodge was somewhat older than the adjacent hospital. It appears on
the 1882 map
during a time when Cliveden was still home to the Duke of Westminster,
and the CRCMH was not even a twinkle in the Astors' eyes. Below is
a 19th century engraving, taken from a 1750 painting from when Frederick,
Prince of Wales, and father of "mad" King George III, moved
to Cliveden. Contrary to the "wishful-thinking" theory written
on the graphic itself, the white building to the right of the picture
is undoubtedly meant to be Taplow Court.
part of the Cliveden estate, it was a grandiose building in itself
- Pre-Victorian but made substantially bigger during the late 19th
century. Containing stables and workshops, Taplow Lodge was no doubt
originally utilized by the Cliveden grounds staff. Later, it was used
as accomodation by CRCMH nurses for a while before it fell into disrepair
- apparently being in such a state (disgusting, cold and falling apart)
that the nurses simply moved out. There is even a rumour that a servant's
tunnel connected Taplow Lodge to the main buildings at Cliveden -
and also of a well with no apparent bottom. Sadly, little else is
known about the place.
spent a very long time exploring the CRCMH before we actually discovered
Taplow Lodge - and quite accidentally at that. I can't imagine why.
Perhaps because it was so well hidden from the road - behind thick
bushes and trees, down a gravel track that looked for all the world
as if it was somebody's driveway. But we were amongst the fortunate
ones. I'd say that an infinitely small proportion of CRCMH explorers
throughout the years were ever aware that an equally fantastic experience
awaited them across the road. Certainly among the adventurers I've
encountered this appears to have been the case.
Outbuildings and stables beside Taplow Lodge - Door
leads to "old hall" type building
first stumbled upon the place on the first day of shooting Mist
Raiders. I'm not sure why we wandered off in the opposite direction
for a change, but the cars were parked fairly close to what once would
have been a driveway to the Lodge. Entering via the southern end of
the site, the first thing we came across were a collection of outbuildings
- stables and the like. These can be seen clearly at the southern
end of the site on the map above.
We were certainly quite lost for words in finding yet another run-down
site so close to the CRCMH (and indeed only later discovered the true
identity of our find, having studied maps). We shot one scene in what
appeared to be an old hall (perhaps a coachworks?) next to some stables.
Like its CRCMH counterpart - there was a raised stage - and the fact
that such a building existed (if that's what it really was) points
to the fact that the site we were exploring had no less prestige than
A still from "The Harrowing" - inside the
our way around the side of these outbuildings, we met with a sight
that was not so much awe-inspiring as completely out of this world.
We just couldn't believe our eyes. Talk about stumbling into Narnia.
A huge white crumbling stately home nestled in an open parkland setting
enclosed by thick forest. Don't get me wrong - the CRCMH is very impressive
- but this was something else.
Taplow Lodge - looking due south
guess I could use a couple of stone circles here to make a comparison.
Well, sort of. Everybody knows Stonehenge. When you see it in person,
it completely hits you - standing isolated in the middle of a vast
flat landscape, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It's instantly impressive.
At the other end of Salisbury Plain, you'll find Avebury. The largest
stone circle in the world no less. But strangely enough, it's not
so immediately impressive. These roles reverse however upon closer
inspection. Stonehenge is undoubtedly striking - but at the end of
the day, there's not much to it. On the other hand, Avebury, while
initially not much to look at (from ground-level at least) is a far
more intricate and interesting place to explore.
is like the CRCMH. You know it's a hospital and you're expecting a
hospital - so that initial shock factor is dampened a bit. But that
isn't a bad thing, because a lifetime of discovery and adventure
awaits you there. Taplow Lodge is immediate and overwhelming. But
like Stonehenge, would ultimately hold nowhere near the exploration
longevity as the CRCMH. That's not to say it wasn't interesting (I
am hopeless with analogies I'm afraid), but that it paled into insignificance
compared to what the hospital had to offer long term - a point illustrated
very well in the map above. Look
at the sheer scale of the CRCMH in comparison to Taplow Lodge. It
never really stood much of a chance in the long term. But thankfully
we have preserved some images of the truly remarkable sight that Taplow
Lodge truly was.
External textures on the main building - note interesting
inside the main building, the decay was instantly visible. Unlike
most of the CRCMH, there was a feeling that the place was quite structurally
unsound. Ceilings and walls had collapsed. Much of the interior was
a mess, and we truly had to tip-toe around everything. Some areas
though still retained an air of grace. None more so than the grand
staircase. This part of the house made me think of The Poseidon
Adventure. Junk all over the place, yet this majestic staircase
still winds its way to the upper balconies with lavish burgundy wallpaper
throughout. Sadly, this dark part of the house wasn't treated kindly
on film, with only our small torch to pinpoint features - though there
were no such issues with the naked eye. We did dare to venture up
the stairs - albeit very cautiously - but turned back from a room
not far from the top when the floor began making very unsavoury noises.
A bay window on the south side
stairs leading down to the cellar held no such fears. Again too dark
to photograph with much success, but perhaps the most fascinating
part of the house. The atmosphere of the place changed from regal
country manor house to the misty backstreets of Victorian London.
The cellar consisted of strange bare-brick passageways with cobbled
floors that brought back memories of the Jack The Ripper exhibit at
Madame Tussauds. An incredibly creepy place. In the time we were down
there, we failed to exhaust every single alley. Possibly because we
were frightened to death. If the stories of a secret tunnel between
here and Cliveden are true, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.
This basement area would have been the perfect place to start or finish
such an affair.
that's about as far as our Taplow Lodge exploration ever took us.
Had we known its immediate fate at the time (i.e. impending demolition),
perhaps we'd have made more of an effort to document the place. But
as it stands, all that's left is here on these pages for you all to
see. So that leaves me with two messages. One, for you - whether
you are a general reader, a dedicated explorer, of both: If you can
help with any information - be that in written form of a mystical
or historical nature - or perhaps something visual - please please
contact us. My second message
is for those who live today in what has become the "Orkney Lodge"
estate. And it goes something like this: Can you please pull up your
floorboards and see if there happens to be any, say, secret passages
leading to Cliveden or anything under your house? Thank you.
All images on this page are taken from video rushes from the Mist
Raiders prelude "The Harrowing". Sadly, the interior
footage is far too dark to be of much value here. The shot above is
actually a montage of two shots (half of which was taken on the run
- which explains the blurriness) and shows the eastern side of the
to, well, you know who you are, for some of the information regarding
the 19th century engraving and a few other historical points.