Exploring this sprawling house was a nerve-racking experience but most definitely a pleasure. The house was converted into a fish breeding farm in 1952. After refurbishment in 2003, Lower Berryfield Fisheries brought in a new joint owner to support the business. The fishery was said to have gone through dramatic changes since 2005 and they successfully scaled up the business. They were known for their high quality carp and ornamental fish. At its peak they were producing over 100,000 fish a year. Apparently there were no new carp introduced into the site after the original fish from 1952. Unfortunately, the business ceased trading in 2018 when the original owner died and the estate has remained in probate.
The estate is located next to a fairly busy road and adjacent to the River Thames. We spotted the abandoned house from the road and managed to find entry into the land from the public footpath. The grounds span 44 acres and include a beautiful ornamental pond. The estate comes with 1,900 feet (579 metres) of Thames frontage. Access to the grounds was fairly simple, the path was a well trodden one and there were signs that people had used the site as a hangout spot in the past.
The main house is 7,500 square feet and is currently up for sale. The original property is believed to have been built around 1920 and been extended throughout the decades. Access into the house was fairly simple as vandals had smashed a number of windows throughout the property. The first room we entered was the pool which had been uncovered and care was taken not to fall into it. Luckily it had been emptied but some dirty rainwater had made its way into it. Previous visitors had taken furniture from the main house and had chucked it into the pool. This was the first insight into the size of the house and how trashed it was going to be.
Through the pool room, we entered the downstairs of Ferry House. Mattresses were strewn all across the room and the carpet had been lifted. The house had clearly been loved during its lifetime, there were a number of personal items that had survived the years of abandonment. Even though the décor was dated it was a privilege to walk through and experience this giant historic house. Standing in the conservatory, looking at the sprawling gardens gave us an glimpse into what it would have been like to live here. There were family picture hanging on the wall and seating facing out to the gardens. It was easy to imagine how the previous owners had spent their days admiring the views. This room felt exposed and vulnerable. The wind howled through the smashed windows. There was no light as far as the eye could see. Anyone could have been hiding in the landscape.
The in tact safe was a rare fine. It was clear that previous visitors had unsuccessfully tried to gain access to it. The brick wall behind had been smashed as well, maybe in an attempt to take the whole safe. Often the safes are left open in abandoned properties, clearly this locked one had peaked the interest of previous explorers.
It was when we had finished exploring the majority of the downstairs floor and were in the kitchen ready to head to the first floor that the sound of an alarm pierced through the countryside.
We froze. The alarm sounded far away but in a house and estate this size it was really hard to tell. Urban Exploration can also put you on edge, so panic can be caused by any sound. We sensibly decided to head out the same way we came in and assess the situation from the safety of public land.
As soon as we exited the building the sound of the alarm got louder but we were still in the dark as to where it was coming from. We made it back onto the main road and followed the road. It appeared that the alarm was getting louder and was coming from a different house further down the street. It seemed a baffling coincidence that whilst we were exploring an abandoned property, just a few hundred metres away another house’s burglar alarm had been triggered! We did what any sensible explorer would do, and had a pint in the local pub. What a wise decision this turned out to be…
Returning to Ferry House
After our refreshing beverage and enjoying the tunes from a wedding reception partying in the room next door; we headed back to Ferry House.
We felt fairly confident that the alarm wasn’t from Ferry House and hadn’t noticed anything suspicious occurring along the road as we recuperated. Our plan was to head straight upstairs to explore the parts we missed. If we heard any sounds of an alarm we would head right back out and call it a day. It was as we were ducking through the wire fencing surrounding the property that we heard the sound of barking.
We were definitely on edge after the alarm fiasco so hearing the sound of barking made us stop. The barking was in the distance and not an unusual sound to hear in the Oxfordshire countryside. We paused for a minute and heard nothing else and were just about to continue on when the barking continued. It definitely sounded like a large dog. We stopped again. We decided to err on the side of caution and head back onto public property to gather our thoughts. The barking was fairly frequent and so we decided to take a casual stroll along the Thames footpath. We hoped either the barking would stop or we could pinpoint where it came from.
As we were walking along the path by the Thames it was clear that there were two dogs. Their barks were deep, excited and constant. It was evident these dogs were moving and enjoying the hunt. As we continued walking down the path the barking dogs came closer and even though we couldn’t see them and were safely behind a row of shrubs it was quite frightening! These guard dogs were patrolling the grounds of Ferry House and were just a few metres away from us on the footpath.
This goes to show that not all alarms are bad. In our case, the burglar alarm had saved our skins. We had made it out of the house and to the safety of the pub whilst security and guard dogs appeared to have turned up to check out Ferry House and its estate. Maybe a neighbour had seen our torch lights from earlier on and called the security team to turf us out? We will never know but we are very happy not to come face to face with security and dogs that night. This experience won’t stop us from heading back to check out all of the areas we failed to see on this first attempt. It’s too sunning to not!
The Estate is currently up for sale after being left empty since 2018. The agents are planning to sell the main house, gardens and separate cottages altogether but are open to splitting up the properties. The estate is in a great location, right by a handy and friendly pub! The house needs some love and care but I doubt it will take much to bring it up to standard. Whilst dated with superficial damage it is not dilapidated.
We’ll be back to see you Ferry House, hopefully next time without the dogs.
Last Updated on 8 February 2022 by Michael