Curiosity may have killed the cat, but most of the other curious minds out there seem to be doing just fine. It’s only natural to want to explore the unknown, even if it means breaking a few rules to get there. After all, what harm could a little good-natured mischief really do?
What began as an innocent exploration of an old mansion quickly became a nightmare for a group of adventurers as soon as they descended into the basement. Maybe this home wasn’t so abandoned after all…
Urban exploration, or “Urbexing” as some call it, is a trend that has grown popular on video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Facebook in recent years. But while many “urbexers” have generated a respectable number of views, UK adventurer Dan Dixon has taken the cake.
In January of 2017, Dixon and his friends started an urban exploration channel on YouTube called Exploring with Fighters and have since accumulated a massive following. In fact, in just a year and a half, they have boasted nearly ten million channel views.
Dixon and the Fighters have explored the abandoned ruins of places like hotels, factories, caves, and even theme parks. But with such captivating adventures under his belt, Dixon still wanted to push the boundaries. He wanted to do something big…
That’s why in late September of 2017, Dixon decided to go on a very special mission. Hopping on a 4 AM train, the group traveled to Oxfordshire, England to go on the exploration of a lifetime.
The location in question was Hook End Manor, a derelict mansion located in the wealthy hamlet of Gallowstree Common. While a number of big-name Brits have ties to the manor, the most notable former owner was Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour.
For Pink Floyd fans, this estate could easily be considered sacred ground. Not only did the band cut part of their 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Judgment in the mansion’s studio, but Gilmour also kept the giant inflatable pig used to promote the band’s album Animals on the grounds.
When Dixon and his team first set foot on Hook End’s 25 acres, they were immediately overcome with both fear and awe at the sight of the mansion’s magnificent decay. But as they stepped through the front door they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
Despite the spiders, the house itself appeared to be in relatively good shape. With nearly every inch of the place covered in wood paneling and marble accents, it was clear that whoever had it built paid a pretty penny to do so.
Even the kitchen was untouched, the manor’s valuable china was still proudly displayed on the wall beneath a layer of dust. Dixon joked that a zombie apocalypse must have occurred, as no one in their right mind would willingly leave such a valuable collection behind.
Upstairs, another snooker table sat in the middle of a playroom plastered with expensive-looking children’s wallpaper. Toys lay scattered in front of the toy closet as if the child playing had left in a hurry…or was planning to come back.
Placed in one of the far reaches of the cellar was a headstone for a seven-year-old boy known only as “Little Jack”, who died in April of 1909. Officially creeped out, the explorers ran out of the basement.
After posting the video, Dixon and his crew received backlash over trespassing in a home that was still technically owned. Thankfully, though, Dixon explained that criminal trespassing is nonexistent in the UK and that any legal action brought against them would be civil, likely resulting in a small fine.
Despite the initial response, Exploring with Fighter’s newest video began circulating the web and has since racked up nearly 500k views. The vast majority of the comments on the video are positive ones, with users praising the exploration and sharing such an incredible find.
Several weeks later, Dixon and the Fighters released a follow-up to their Hook End Manor video and shared some shocking news. Apparently, they had returned to the mansion a second time to find several cars parked outside as well as lights on inside the house.
“[The owner] seemed pretty angry at first, but said he’s got nothing against the hobby,” Dixon relayed in his follow-up. “Maybe this has prompted whoever owned it to move back into the property, but it’s definitely not abandoned anymore.”
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