Calcott Hall, in Llanymynech, Powys, Mid Wales, known as Red Dress Manor by locals, stood uninhabited for almost 50 years, but the eerie property was never quite empty
For almost 50 years Red Dress Manor has stood eerily abandoned – but it’s far from empty.
Until the early 1970s, the property was a family home, but for decades after that, it’s been stuck in time, with the everyday objects the last owner used remaining exactly in place, as though she had simply nipped out and would be back at any moment.
For years, the stunning four-bedroom home was reminiscent of the mystery of the Mary Celeste – a ship in good condition that was found seemingly abandoned with all of the crew’s possessions left exactly in place – that has captured the imaginations of writers and historians since 1872.
When the last known resident, Ellen Jones passed away, Calcott Hall seems to have suffered a similar fate, with time almost pausing inside its walls and becoming an attraction for urban explorers.
A former dairy farm dating back to 1725, Red Dress Manor – as it is now called by locals – is officially Calcott Hall, in Llanymynech, Powys, Mid Wales.
The Grade II listed building stands proudly in the countryside but instead of a bustling family home, it is now nothing more than a relic of a time decades ago. Following Ellen’s death, all of her possessions remained exactly as they were in her home for decades.
Hanging from one wardrobe door was the red dress that gives the empty home its nickname but it was far from the only belonging left behind from a forgotten time.
Ellen’s picture, including one of her in the red dress, hung from the walls still covered in places in fading 1950s floral wallpaper. Where the wallpaper had tumbled to earth, heavy stone covered the walls, harking back to the time the dairy farm was first built.
Love letters and notes from friends were strewn the floor and hadn’t been read for almost 40 years, their personal messages long forgotten. Family snaps lined the fireplace, black and white images of people long dead, as dust covers arms chairs, and their cushions.
Beds still had the same covers on them that people once slept in and curtains still hung in the windows, many of them cracked and broken as nature forced its way into the house.
Branches crawl along the walls, as leaves fill roof spaces and floors where people once trod. There were hum drum signs of life throughout the eerie home, with washing powder left on the side in the kitchen, plates, cups, and pots and pans all still in the cupboards.
In Ellen’s former bedroom, there are memories of a bygone time as her dressing table was still filled with remnants of make-up, brushes, and a mirror.
Lamps, covered in decades of cobwebs, and bottles that once contained 19th-century cleaning products, line side tables, and shelves – all thick with dust.
A TV from the 1960s, with no pictures or signs coming from it since the 1970s. Newspapers, filled with news from years ago, are piled up in the living room.
Back in 2020, photographer, Dan Circa, from Manchester, ventured into the home to capture it in all its eerie glory.
He said: “I heard stories of the manor and so wanted to investigate for myself.
“The picture of a lady in a red dress and the actual red dress still being there was particularly intriguing. I wanted to see what else was inside.
“I felt like I was in someone’s home uninvited, I expected the owner to walk round every corner I saw.
“When I climbed the stairs to enter the main bedroom, I opened the door and to the right, there was a photo of the lady in the garment on her dressing table with all her makeup and other personal items on it.
“I then turned to the left and saw an open wardrobe with that red dress hung up, it was a very eerie feeling as if someone was there, and I thought it was her at first glance.”
Despite the home standing empty for so long, the previous owner was identified as Ellen Jones, the same woman pictured in the red dress in one of the photographs on the wall of the abandoned home.
Dan said: “Because of how personal this particular urban exploration is, the main message is beauty in decay, as documenting things that someone once cared about or used is very important.
“People are amazed to see the pictures, especially when they see it’s a place with personal belongings in.”
In August 2023, it was reported in County Times that the property had been given listed building consent, which may mean it is renovated and restored to its “former glory” and could see barns on the property converted into seven residences.
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