In a tiny forgotten corner of Jesmond Dene, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, tucked away beside a luxury hotel, sits an abandoned little lodge.
Once part of Jesmond Dene House’s sprawling complex, the tiny part of the lodge you can see from the road is deceptive. There are Grade II listed stables, and several outhouses. The strangely small looking cottage is odd when compared to the massive hotel opposite, as though someone simply dropped a child’s playhouse by the roadside and forgot it was ever there.
I love this place. It’s in such a busy area, and yet barely anyone notices it. You have to be looking- really looking- to notice the little window that crops out into the kerb. It’s so densely overgrown that you can barely make out what’s there. It’s a hidden house, a secret, invisible to the hotel, it’s clientele, local residents, and anyone without a keen sense of curiosity for what that little window is.
It won’t stay that way. Newcastle City Council has been trying to sell the plot of land attached to the lodge since the nurseries that stood there were demolished, and while the latest development proposal has fallen through, no site that could be making money and isn’t is allowed to rest easy for long. Soon, the axe will fall, the site will be cleared of anything that isn’t protected, and it’s likely that the site will become yet another cookie cutter hideaway for those who have the money to be there.
I wanted to capture what I love about the lodge. Its quietness. Its indiscriminate nature. Its uselessness. In a world that places all emphasis on capitalistic usefulness, finding small places that stand in total defiance, wrack and ruin, beautiful and loud opposition to being at all useful, is wonderful and hopeful and makes me believe that maybe we too can stand in beautiful, loud, broken defiance of being useful and instead just be. For as long as we can.
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