Dust to Dust

There should have been so much to enjoy today. I was celebrating – the paperback of Miss Willmott’s Ghosts, published exactly a year after the hardback came out.

I had arranged to meet three dear friends who had helped me so much with the book – the support, practical help, expertise, wisdom and just bottom-line friendship of Ailsa Wildig, Paula Sewell and John Cannell has buoyed me through seven years of mouldlarking and we had arranged a meal at the Thatchers Arms to celebrate…

Before we went into the pub, we went for a walk around Warley Place. It was all going very well – we were particularly enjoying water in the middle pond…

…actual bog in the bog garden and the welcome return of the thick carpet of moss below the Spanish chestnuts after its worrying disappearance last summer:

So, yes, it was all going very well, until I left the others for a quick excursion to see if I could find some purple toothwort and made the mistake of looking at the filmy fern cave.

Now, admittedly, for years it’s not been fabulously well. It lost its roof decades ago – thick shards of greenish glass rock up on a regular basis:

and rusted, eye-level girders make it a death trap to walk (climb) into.

But on the one occasion that I did go in there (suitably supervised by official company, natch) it was pretty much intact, wall-wise. It had arches, both internally…

…and at the entrance:

It was dangerous but not impassable.

Today? Oh dear.

It was quite hard to see as the sunshine was glaring through the trees, but it was clear from some distance that something was very wrong:

A closer inspection (not too close, things didn’t look good) revealed that at least one arch has completely collapsed. Presumably this happened in the last few days of intense rain as I have not heard of anything before that.

I didn’t dare go much further – it’s a hard-hat zone now – so I can’t tell the state of the inside but I did get one long-shot of it, and it’s not pretty:

Well, actually it is sort of pretty (this shot has not been retouched in any way) but, as a Warley lover of 40+ years it breaks my heart to see another piece of Ellen’s world collapse into dust. It’s sending me off to re-read all those academic works on ruinology I consumed so splendidly abstractly for my MRes, but now with added, poignant resonance.

The filmy fern cave is gone, and with it has died a part of my childhood.

Rest in Peace, dear Grot.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes, I should be saying something along the lines of oh, it’s all part of nature or something, but I am really quite heartbroken.


  2. Gary Webb says:

    That’s so sad, the fading away of such a special place…


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