On the site now occupied by Orkney Court once stood a grand house called Taplow Lodge. Owned by Patrick Craufurd Bruce MP from 1794 until his death in 1820 and recorded in J C Loudon's
Gardening Tours series in 1832 when it was owned by a Mrs Tunno, the house was later used as staff accommodation for the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital (CRCMH) on the other side of Cliveden Road. Long-disused and increasingly derelict, the house was discovered in 1993 by a group looking for film locations. Damon Torsten takes up the tale...
We 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.
Entering via the southern end of the site, the first thing we came across was a collection of outbuildings - stables and the like. We were certainly quite lost for words in finding yet another run-down site so close to the CRCMH. We shot one scene in what appeared to be an old hall (perhaps a coachworks?) next to some stables.
Making 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.
Once inside the main building, the decay was instantly visible. 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 - cautiously - but turned back from a room not far from the top when the floor began making very unsavoury noises.
The 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.