The Establishment (Part 8)

We have just received the following letter and after consulting with out own legal team we have unanimously decided to continue our investigations. By posting the communication here, we hope to make our position very clear and inform the nameless faces at Darr House Developments that we will not be intimidated by such unreasonable requests and legal threats.

letter

Please read on.

soddenham-est-7It is advisable that new visitors to this website should read the preceding parts before continuing. This building, known locally as ‘The Establishment’ has been on the periphery of the village for over 80 years. Silently operating behind a stand of trees and accessed by a circuitous route via a cinder track beyond Setchell’s Copse, no-one was seen entering or leaving, and there was no contact in the village by those who worked there.

soddenham-est-34This time, we loaded up Jessie’s royal blue Austin Princess Vanden Plas with our kit, which included the sturdy generator and lights usually employed around the green and Murrow’s Mill during festival times, along with plenty of extension cables and power tools. It was quite a squeeze with all this and our regular gear, but the old girl powered up the cinder path to the establishment like she meant business.

At 9.17am, after a brief check around the site to see if there had been any other visitors, we set up the generator outside the main door and coiled our lights and cables in preparation at the entrance to the long room.

Over a cup of sweet tea from my thermos flask (good old Mrs.T!) we discussed what we wanted to achieve this time. We all generally agreed that we need to take advantage of the improved lighting and make a more detailed map of the area we had already covered as we made our way down to the locked door. Mr. Pickard got out the brass marker pins he showed us when he first arrived and explained how to used them. Given that we have previously been unable to ascertain distance with any certainty, this seemed to be a genius idea – Jessie was amazed at how well thought out his approach was given that he had not been given a great deal of information before he arrived.

Only when we had the door open and some idea of what lay beyond, could we decide what to do next. We adopted the same tactic of tying ourselves together and each of us hauled a different bit of kit; Mr. P took the lights (these were heavy but he insisted), Jessie hauled several bags of tools and equipment and I carried the cables and the box of brass marker pins.

Under Mr. P’s guidance, Jessie hammered in the first pin on the threshold of the long room. We wished ourselves luck and slowly headed into the darkness. We were initially surprised to find that the lights, powered by our generator, were not as effective in penetrating the gloom as we had hoped, but quickly came to accept that very little down here had behaved as expected. The lights, whilst no more effective than our torches, did help by providing some stable light. Mr. P. asked Jessie to secure another pin at the top of the stairs, one at the bottom and a third at the locked door.

At the bottom of the stairs, Mr. P inspected the lock on the door marked “STRICTLY NO ADMITTANCE EXCEPT ON BUSINESS” and noted that his last attempt to open it had barely marked the surface. Jessie already had his trusty old Botch impact drill out of the bag and was soon putting it to use. Again, the noise was strangely muffled as if behind several doors rather than in this small underground room.

Jessie really exerted himself and had to use two new bits before the lock gave way and the door freed. Mr. P. broke the silence that followed by talking into his voice recorder “eleven minutes and thirty-seven seconds. Lock disabled and door moving freely.” A pause, and then “Gentlemen, shall we go on?” So we did.

soddenham-est-26We shone our lights through the door to find that we were faced with a further corridor stretching away into the darkness. As before, we collect our kit and gingerly make our way into the gloom. It appeared to be another corridor, very similar in appearance to the one upstairs at the entrance to the long room; quite dishevelled, damp in places and quite grimy.

The corridor was, or appeared to be, much longer than the one upstairs, and rather featureless in its drabness. This was interrupted by two closely spaced Health and Safety signs of surprisingly recent manufacture: “DANGER – Acid” and “Wear face shield.” Again, pooling our lights, Jessie took a few photographs and secured another brass pin. We moved on. soddenham-est-32

Just when the corridor seemed to stretch on forever, Mr. P brought us to a halt as we arrived at what appeared to be a T-junction. Another pin was hammered in and we decided to turn right. The lights we had brought were almost at their full extent, but we pressed on in the myopic glow of our combined torches and the rest of the rope secured to the marker pin. We would only go as far as our tether would allow.

Looking both ways, it appeared that the corridor did indeed branch off to the left and right, but very soon we came upon door on the right wall. This was secured with what looked like a very old and rusty padlock. The door was plain but solid. We marked the spot with a pin and Mr. P, crisply dictating into his voice recorder, named it as ‘The Padlocked Door’ for future reference.

We decided continued along the corridor a short while until we reached a left hand turn, with another door opposite. This door appeared less substantial that the last one, with a standard door lock and possibly a deadbolt (although we were unsure whether this was just a small hole.) Another Pin was secured (at ‘The Deadbolt Door’) and we turned left.

soddenham-est-14

There were no discernible features in the corridor that made it look any different from all the others we had traversed and this gave us all a very unsettling feeling of disorientation – like having walked for miles but not moved. Our tether continued to play out – we had around 200 feet, minus what we had used to fasten ourselves together, so we knew we were within that, but still, it felt like more. And less.

We came upon another left hand turn. No doors. Marker Pin. We continued shuffling in the gloom in our paltry pool of light down more featureless corridor, with darkness before us and darkness following us. This seemed to be a much longer stretch than before and I was expecting our tether to go taut at any moment. We then found ourselves at yet another left hand turn! Jessie set another marker into the ground and we stood around quietly for a few moments. I asked if we were all okay and whether we wanted to continue. Both Mr. P and Jessie seemed ready to press on, and although I was a little fatigued (I am a little older that the others, after all!) but we all agreed to continue.

Again, more corridor and after a while (I’m not sure of how far any more, but we’ll be able to measure using the marker pins later) we came upon another door. Or, to be exact, a doorway; this door had long been removed judging by the decay in the woodwork. We shone our torches in and found a room that looked as if it had been abandoned in a hurry. There were some notices on the walls and various bits of detritus strewn around, but nothing which immediately struck us. Mr. P. suggested that we light the room better before we explore further–which was most sensible, given our limited vision. We set another marker at ‘The Open Room’ and moved on down the corridor.

We came upon another left hand corner, marked it and continued a while before Mr. P exclaimed a rather excited “AHA!” and brought us to a rather comical bunched up halt! “Gentlemen” he said “we have made our first concrete discovery” and pointed the beam of his torch down toward the ground, where a bright brass pin with a rope attached to it stretched off into the darkness. We all then brought our beams up and to the right to find a corridor with a very faint glow in the distance-our lights! We had come around a square or rectangular route to where we had taken our first turning! I have to say that I was most relieved to find that we had returned to the somewhat anonymous familiarity of that first corridor and sat down to rest my feet.

At this point, Mr. P began to take charge. After untying themselves, he and Jessie got the surveyors tape measure and started measuring between the markers, with Jessie holding the end and him pacing off into the darkness. He would emerge several moments later repeating the measurements into his voice recorder. They made their way around the corridor again and emerged at my left some time later. These few moments in the darkness (my meagre torchlight for company) were possibly the most uncomfortable I had been in my life. I don’t really have the words to express how I felt, but I was very certainly glad to have my friends back with me.

I must have looked a sight because Jessie looked very concerned on their return and insisted that we leave. Mr. P agreed, but suggested that we continue to measure on our way out – we could then draw up a reasonably accurate map. We collected our gear as we went, but left the lights at the foot of the stairs for the next visit – we would need them further around the corridor as we explored beyond the doors!

As we were loading up our gear in the car, Mr. P asked us what time we had on our watches (we had synchronised as we set off at his insistence) and we all placed our wrists together – each watch read just 9.25am! We had been down there for much longer than 8 minutes, surely? It took Jessie over 10 minutes to get the door open at the bottom of the stairs! Once the place was secured again, we climbed into the old Princess and headed back to the Teat. Jessie noticed that the clock on the dashboard read 3.15pm. We rode in silence all the way back.

A restorative glass of Witches Brew was served with a plate of grilled sweetbreads as we sat around the bay window table in the lounge, comparing notes and questioning our findings. It was indeed after 3 in the afternoon and our watches had only progress by eight minutes. He had been down there almost 6 hours but I thought we had been there for about an hour and a half at most. This was very perplexing and Mr. P was very put out by this unlikely phenomenon.

At this point, it is fair to say that Mr. Pickard is a most level-headed chap in a crisis and was very efficient in gathering information and retrieving our tools and equipment, stowing them away methodically and regularly leaving himself reminders on his voice recorder to recharge batteries and order new stuff, which seemed a little pretentious when he first did it but now was just so normal! I will have to get one for myself…

Meanwhile, here is the map we have created from the information gathered so far:

soddenham-est-31

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4 thoughts on “The Establishment (Part 8)

  1. Curious indeed! And how are you all feeling since beginning your visits to the Establishment? As well as the strange effect on the watch, have you noticed any changes to your personal wellbeing?

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