Crookham Court: There are varying accounts about the history of this small area of Thatcham in Berkshire, but there seems to have been a house standing on the ground that is now Crookham Court School for a very long time.
In the 14th century, Crookham Manor House was built here, although it only survived until 1543. After that, Crookham House was built on the same site but it was destroyed by a fire in the early 19th century.
The remains of the estate were demolished, and by 1850, the construction of a new house had begun. The finished building was completed by the end of the 19th century and named Crookham Court. It is still standing today, although it’s in a rather sorry state.
In the early 20th century, this building was used as a school for children of military families who served at Greenham Common, an airbase that was used by both the RAF and the USAF. However, after several years, the air force left the area and the school became abandoned until the 1960s.
In 1961, the estate was acquired and converted into a boarding school for boys. The school was operational until 1990 when it was forced to close amid scandal.
The closure of the boarding school came about due to high-profile cases of child abuse that came to light. The incidents were uncovered when a new headteacher took over in either 1987 or 1988.
The British television program That’s Life investigated the school and after the program was broadcast, three employees were convicted. In 1990, the owner (who was also the principal) and a French teacher were imprisoned for ten years, their sentences being reduced to six on appeal. An English teacher was also convicted and sentenced to six years.
Then, in 2012, a fourth member of staff was convicted of indecent assault for incidents that took place in 1988 and 1989 after a victim came forward.
After all the teachers and pupils left in 1990, the mansion was once again abandoned and the former school became quite a draw for lovers of abandoned places given everything that had been left behind.
The building remained structurally sound and explorers could find books on library shelves, lesson notes on the blackboards, and even the remains of notebooks containing homework in the empty corridors and classrooms.
Unfortunately, reports from urban explorers dated around five years ago stated that the mansion had been used as a bedsit and also as a traveler camp, and the site had been trashed.
In April 2016, work began on restoring the architectural stonework, including repairing and cleaning the steps, cornices, and quoins, restoring the entrance and the chimney, and repairing the foundations.
There seem to be no updates later than one in June 2017 which states that the work is still ongoing. The area has been fenced off and the building boarded up while this work is being carried out.
A huge thank you to True British Metal, the photographer who has kindly given us permission to use his photographs of the abandoned Crookham Court School. He has been an urban explorer for more than ten years and shares his amazing photos of abandoned places on Flickr which you can check out via this link.