The Haunting of ‘The Heckingham Institute’ – Part 1

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 24.08.2009

This urbex mission walk through takes you on a journey through the haunted, derelict, abandoned hallways of ‘The Heckingham Institute’ with the crew

The Heckingham Institute

The Heckingham Institute

I awoke to the familiar resonating of the alarm clock, a quick check and the time was confirmed as being 6:30a.m. Within 10 minutes, attired correctly, the urbex bag was packed and kit being checked over. It was Sunday morning, the morning where a mission had been planned to an abandoned mental institute.

Whilst the kit was getting its final check, best friend and crew member, Darren, was on his way over.

With everything checked over and Darren just arriving, it was hard to contain excitement as we discussed our plans. We at have some unwritten codes. The most important code is to EXPLORE EVERYTHING, LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED – regardless! This leads to some pretty dodgy situations however its something we do. We discussed our plans for basements and lofts. Kit checked, we were in the car and off to complete our mission.

After a quick stop for food and coffee, we arrived on the site – despair hit when we saw the gates were firmly locked shut. Darren had checked the satellite maps prior and advised of a road going North, we followed that and parked in a field then hiked over 4 fields to get to the location. The asylum loomed over us in the darken skies, broken, derelict and abandoned. We soon found an entry point, and within minutes we were in.

Usually, our missions follow a plan – once we get to a location, we scout the entire place whilst everything is still packed, that way – we are still nimble in case we find something or someone that prescribes a quick get away. When scouting, we look for frames and shots on for the exit. We always enter the building first leaving the outside for later…

We were walking around the Sewing Room, the first thing we realise is that the place has suffered intensely through urban decay, everything is the rooms has been smashed, still it holds character

The Heckingham Institute

The Sewing Room

The Heckingham Institute

Derelict toilet

The second thing that we notice is how dark it is in here, all the windows are boarded up and only cracks let in the light. The Sewing room is an annex of the large building – we turn check every room and are greeted with the same level of urban decay

At this point in time we are quiet, listening to the environment around us – wondering, is anyone else here?

We moved out into a court yard area, this building was a workhouse when it was built in 1765 – I was wondering what this court yard had seen, what history were we walking over? We started scouting around, looking for an entry point to the main building

The Heckingham Institute

View from the courtyard

Who said shooting into the sun could not be fun? We were checking out the angles of the buildings, building the mental map that would help us navigate the winding hallways of this asylum.

The Heckingham Institute

And we were in...

We found a place to enter the main building, this was enough evidence to show that we were certainly not the first. Once we entered the asylum, we discussed our approach to photo taking in this low light. We stood in what was the dining room, thoughts of insane patients eating in here flashed through my head – I hoped this was a happy place. After Darren got spooked by a pigeon, we turned right and followed the hallways into the arcades and workrooms.

The Heckingham Institute

Lift to hell

This lift caught our eye and we spent a few minutes standing, looking…. thinking. What had happened in this lift? Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ came to mind! I adjusted my thinking and we pushed on through large, derelict rooms.

The Heckingham Institute

Voices of the heretic

This olden day speaker lay on the floor near a single sock – we could hear the voices of the heretic through it… maybe not but there were noises coming from the floor above. We pushed on in the darkness, exploring every room, checking behind every door.

Now through to the other side of the asylum, through the ‘governors room’, the ‘scullery’ and into the kitchen

The Heckingham Institute

Asylum Kitchen

The kitchen was huge and stripped bare, we marvelled at the expansive walk in fridge/freezer and saw artefacts that dated back to the 1970’s, old cups and plates lay littered on the floor and shelves.

The Heckingham Institute

Dare you go inside?

I wondered, was this a fridge or some methods on solitary confinement? There were large butcher type hooks on the inside, my mind was running riot.

The Heckingham Institute Crew Shot

The roof had collapsed here, we took a few minutes to talk about going up stairs and locating the loft space. We also discussed the lift and it gear that must be in the loft! Time to stop for a quick crew shot…

The Heckingham Institute

Why was this here?

On the way to find the stairs, we noticed a moulding, aged child’s shoe – why the hell was this here? We continued into the darkness, looking for the stairs that would take us upstairs for the firs time. The stairs were covered in broken glass, each careful step led to a loud, echoing crunching sounds – so much for being quiet, if anyone was up here, they now had the advantage.

The Heckingham Institute

The Death Room

This room we called the death room, there were random scrawls from kids all over signifying that as you had entered the room, you would meet your doom. Maybe we were just lucky but we had no problems.

We continued on and found stairs that led to the loft space, awesome, from here we could traverse the entire institute. Walking through the loft was dangerous, many of the floor areas had fallen, a 12 foot drop was imminent. We continued around, exploring the entire loft space – we came to a dead end however soon found passage through to the far end.

The Heckingham Institute

Mental institute loft - end of the road

This is where it all went down. We stopped for some drink and a talk about were next, we had passed the lift gear and another part of the loft that would make a good shot. From nowhere, the room started to shake, we thought the structure was giving in. The shaking stopped and at the same time, the light in the room has dimmed, we glanced at each other, frightened, concerned, bewildered just at what the hell was going on. The light continued to fall – we reached for the torches just at the same time the screaming started…

The madness was closing in fast, screaming getting closer, the smell of fear growing by the second. The screaming was at the door now, the next thing we saw, we could not believe our eyes…

The Heckingham Institute

"I will deny you, this world belongs to me"

It came towards us, glimmering, shaking, screaming – those red eyes piercing our soul – you wont believe how we made it out of there.

More in part 2… 🙂

Please feel free to discuss this in the Talk Urbex forum

sophos9 –, getting attacked with axes to produce the ‘killer’ walk through


#1manof2worldsAugust 25, 2009, 10:22 am

OMG – you encountered the “Heckingham Darkness”? Excellent, how loud did you scream? Can you imagine what it was like for me because in another part of my life I work as a clairvoyant.

#2Black ShuckAugust 25, 2009, 8:09 pm

What the Hell did you guys see in there!?

#3sophos9August 25, 2009, 8:59 pm

mo2w – was a great experience! Shame you could not make it this time, hopefully you would have not been alarmed by the props 🙂 lol

#4hobobumpAugust 25, 2009, 10:59 pm

cool pics…………….love them……manof2worlds i can imagine how you feel as a medium because i am one myself and feel this only enhances the atmo. these pics really make me feel inspired.

    #5sophos9August 26, 2009, 8:58 am

    Excellent news – glad you like the shots 🙂

#6gy lotDecember 21, 2010, 9:03 pm

we have been in the place many times and have explored both the ground and top floors but have not been to the basement, if anyone has been there what was it like? does anyone know any history about the place e.g why it was closed down?

    #7sophos9December 22, 2010, 10:19 am

    Hi, thanks for the comment. The basement is made up of around 5 different rooms, one contains the electrical boards – the others are bare. This was originally a workhouse which had a bad reputation for the amount of fatalities, it was later a hospital for mental deficients…

#8AdrianMay 19, 2011, 7:09 pm

Brilliant artwork =D

#9LottieNovember 4, 2011, 1:07 pm

Me and a group of friends visited here when we were about 15 (about 8 years ago!) we ended up staying the night, (DONT ASK ME WHY!?) staying in the room with all the scrawl on the wall! Was extremely Creepy!! Good times though.. may have to go back soon! PS… did you like the ‘blood’ over the walls and in the toilet? We found some red paint… wanted to make it look like blood!? Haha 🙂

#10Dan smithMarch 17, 2012, 11:15 pm

I have been in there last night, didnt see anything other than hearing a few little bangs, but that couldve been becuase there was 13 of us lol

    #11sophos9March 19, 2012, 6:49 pm

    haha – yea dude, there is nothing in that place, was just a bit of a laugh… Glad you got to see it though

#12RivettJune 14, 2013, 8:30 am

My nan used to be a chef there when it was a mental home.

#13toadyJune 16, 2015, 8:45 pm

I just found this, thanks for the pics….my great aunt died here in 1938. She was an “imbecile”.

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