Inside an abandoned decaying farmhouse with relics from as early as 1811

A decaying farmhouse stuck in a timewarp has given visitors an eerie glimpse of rural life in the early 20th century.

Photographer Rebecca couldn’t believe what she was seeing when she was invited to see the abandoned cottage after its owner died.

Newspapers from 1811, dozens of stopped clocks, a half-smoked pipe and the owner’s shoes left by his bed were some of the haunting scenes that Rebecca discovered.

The perfectly preserved farmhouse, which first appeared on maps in 1858, was found deep in the countryside in Northern Ireland.

Rebecca, who owns the page Abandoned NI – an homage to derelict houses she visits and photographs, investigated the cottage’s history to get an idea of its former life.

This particular farmhouse in Cookstown, County Tyrone, was lived in until 2015 by three brothers who kept all of their family’s history there.

The last brother to live there – identified only as Dessie – lived a solitary life among the relics of the past.

Living mainly in just two rooms, the octogenarian left in 2015 and then went into a home, dying two years later.

Rebecca was informed about the place and – having photographed dozens of other abandoned houses in the area – was invited in by the owner to document the space before it was knocked down.

Rebecca found ancient books, magazines, papers and photographs littering the farm worker’s cottage.

She photographed a mantel clock eerily frozen, with the hands stuck at 12.15, a pair of glasses, dozens of early 20th century tins left on shelves unopened.

Hundreds of letters – including love letters between Dessie’s brother – were left in drawers, and three ancient rusting kettles sat on top of a stove, next to a cup that appears to have been placed there just before its owner left.

Books, including ancient tomes on gardening, and papers like the Mid Ulster Mail from 1917 were also sitting in a living room that had been shut off for more than 50 years.

One newspaper documented the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic while in the bedroom, the rotting bedclothes were still visible, with a bedpan next to one bed and a flat cap perched precariously on the end.

Rebecca said she initially didn’t think the cottage would be that interesting.

But she was so amazed by the contents she has since catalogued them and created an exhibition based on the lives of Dessie and his family.

She said: ‘As soon as I opened the door I was blown away.

‘I went into what I thought was a wee cottage and it’s basically a social history museum.’

Rebecca began asking people what they could tell her about Dessie and his family.

She said: ‘He was a hearty farmer, milking cows to produce milk and butter. It was reported if you stayed for dinner in the house and you finished up, you were given another dinner for seconds! No one left with an empty stomach.’

Among mysteries was a collection of memorabilia and personal items from an Edwin McQueen.

Nobody knew who he was, but Rebecca worked out that he was actually married to Dessie’s mum for two years before he died.

He was a policeman and his military box can be seen in the corner of one of the bedrooms along with a certificate from 1894 and a picture of him in a frame in his police uniform.

Rebecca eventually curated her own museum exhibit featuring the items – including two perfectly recreated rooms from Dessie’s house – which went on show in Belfast.

Rebecca added: ‘Homes like this are the reason I love to photograph and document these buildings.

‘There are so many places around the country just like this lying untouched and pretty soon they’ll be gone too and we’ll have no record of them being there.’

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