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Hey guys.. Little late with the report but headed down to Jameah with SlimJim and Chopper. We found ourselves an open door and had a little mooch around. After hearing what we presumed was secca talking, we backtracked and headed over to the church, after snapping away here we headed round into the main building. We dind't get very far as we heard muffled voices and signs of life - the smell of fresh cooking, clothes hanging out to dry etc.. from here we decided to back up once again and make our way out.. on our exit we bumped into a gentleman, who informed us that it's in fact not derelict, and is still teaching as a school! The short story with this place is that it was originally a Victorian orphanage. In later years it became a seminary and also ballet school and ultimately became an Islamic school. It's infamy came about when in the late 90s, Abu Hamza used it to train his acolytes in the use of automatic weaponry and handguns. Further dodgy goings on were reported later on and the Police raided the place in 2006. (Borrowed from Jim:D) Unfortunately I did't take any externals as the guy we asked said no, so we respected his requests and went on our way. Shame though, as it is such a beautiful building. Thanks for reading guys!
Former History The main Victorian building began life as St Michael's Orphanage, an orphanage for girls built in 1869. The exterior was designed by George Goldie and the interior was designed by E. W. Pugin. It was paid for by a donation from the Duchess of Leeds, wife of Francis D'Arcy-Osborne, 7th Duke of Leeds. The site itself consisted of 54 acres of land and it was run by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus as part of a pair of orphanages, the other one being Mayfield College. In 1903, it was extended to allow for more accommodation in the convent, the extension was designed by Joseph Hansom. In 1925 it was bought by the Archdiocese of Southwark to serve as a minor seminary for St John's Seminary in Wonersh. It was renamed St Joseph's College and remained a Roman Catholic Junior Seminary until it was closed in 1970. In 1970 The site was converted into a ballet school named the Legat's School of Ballet, founded by Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat. The ground floor of the main building held academic lessons, the first floor housed two large dance studios and an art studio while the second floor attic was used for dormitories. The annex to the rear housed staff and senior pupils, a third dance studio was housed in a wooden hut beside the rear driveway. The church was converted into a theatre, and other facilities such as a swimming pool and tennis courts were added. Many famous names from the world of ballet were associated with the school. The buildings were severely damaged during the storm of 1987, the main building roof lost a number of slates which then damaged other buildings and the roof of the bell tower collapsed. The school at the time was struggling financially with falling admissions and was unable to afford the repair bill, this led to it's closure in 1990. In 1992, it was bought by a charity called Jameah Islameah. Recent history Jameah Islameah School was an independent Islamic school in East Sussex. The school was independently owned and the proprietor functioned as the principal, it housed male students aged 11 to 16. In December 2005, Jameah Islameah was inspected by the Office for Standards in Education which noted that it "does not provide a satisfactory education for its pupils." At the time of the inspection, the school had nine students. According to BBC News the school purported to teach students to become Islamic leaders, training them to the level high enough to teach in local Masajeds and Madares (Mosques & Schools). There had been allegations that the school was used in the training and recruitment of terrorists. According to testimony from Al Qaeda suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, in 1997 and 1998, Abu Hamza and groups of around 30 of his followers held terrorist training camps at the school, including training with AK47 rifles and handguns, as well as a mock rocket launcher. In 2003 or 2004, the grounds of the school were used for an Islamic-themed camping trip, at which Omar Bakri Mohammed lectured. The trip, which was advertised by word-of-mouth, was attended by 50 Muslim men, most of whom were members of al-Muhajiroun, a British based Islamist terrorist organisation. Bakri claimed the activities at the camp included lectures on Islam, football, and paintballing. On 1 September 2006 the school was searched by up to a hundred police officers although no arrests were made. The local Sussex Police held a cordon around the site for 24 days to search the premises and grounds in an operation that cost them over one million pounds. On February 9, 2007, the Department for Education and Skills closed down the school, because it "continues to fail to meet the standards which all independent schools must meet under the Education Act 2002." The school had not been operating at the time, due to lack of students. I was tipped off about this place by a non-member who described it as completely abandoned, I visited with my trusty ginger companion Sentinel. We were a bit taken aback when as soon as we arrived someone popped their head out of a first floor window and started speaking Urdu to us, obviously not completely abandoned then. We politely smiled and waved and made a quick u-turn looking at each other nervously given the history of the terrorism allegations. Once around the corner we decided to get inside the chapel, hide for a bit and figure out what to do next. The chapel although a bit battered still has some great features, so we killed about half an hour in there taking shots and no-one came looking for us. We decided to head straight for the main building and avoid the one we had just come from. As soon as we found our way inside we heard footsteps coming directly towards us from the next room so we made a noisy scramble for the window and legged it back to the car. It only took us about 30 seconds to reach the car so after some discussion about whether or not we should go home we decided we'd go back one more time and if we got rumbled we would make a swift retreat to the car and leave. We went back in the same way and made our way straight to the staircase where we found piles of current Muslim newspapers, signs asking for the removal of our shoes, and donation boxes. All signs that the place is in no way abandoned but no clues as to what it is being used for. We went straight to the top floor where we found 2 large rooms of old dormitories. On the next level down things started to get interesting. We went through a door that stated out of bounds where there was table football and a ping pong table in the corridor, and a room with a pool table. The cupboards lining the corridor were filled with thousands of Qurans and other Islamic reading material. At the end of the corridor there were loose pairs of flip flops on the floor so we nervously opened the next door with caution. There was an office with books scattered everywhere, the room next door to it had kneel down desks laid out like a makeshift classroom. There were timetables with the following week's date on them and a handful of student's names. In the next room was a prayer room with beautiful carpets, obviously very well looked after and still very much in use. We didn't hang around long in here, got some really quick shots and left. Next up were some strange makeshift bedrooms with only a mattress and a suitcase next to them, as if people were only there for a short visit. We really started to feel like we shouldn't be here at this point, especially since I spotted a light cable tied like a noose from the ceiling, although I'm sure that's just the way it was hanging.... (excuse the pun). We encountered various other rooms along the way before we made our way back down to ground level. Kitchen Sentinel in detention One of many beautiful corridors Down on the ground floor we found a room with a chemical testing cupboard amongst other random things, unfortunately we were unable to locate the 'little boner' skeleton that we've since heard about. This was down to the fact that we saw wet footprints leading from a shower towards a room with a light on so we had to move swiftly on and leave that corridor behind. Inside the main entrance hall