If Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion” and an escape room had a baby, it would be Nethercott Manor
The old manor house is entwined with local legend, the living don’t remember the Nethercott’s, the family’s hay day was long ago. Local folk talked, whispers were heard, rumours began, lights were seen within.
The Nethercott’s are long gone but something remains, an essence, a smell, a feeling, it’s in the fabric, in the walls, under the floor boards … it ticks, it creeks … take a trip into the past, uncover the family’s many secrets and glimpse their fleeting souls?
For a few years now, whenever Gord and I have had a chat with other enthusiasts, bloggers, or escape room owners, we have heard over and over again about the rooms at Tulleys Escape Rooms and how amazing they are. We knew that we needed to give them a try, but the timing was never right…until now. Gord had been trying to organise a get together with a few of his colleagues, and due to the location, Tulleys was perfect.
The night before, we heard one of our team had been hospitalised (don’t worry, he’ll be fine), but Tulleys’ customer service was excellent, and they very kindly changed our booking from five to four. Finally, the day had arrived, and the four of us who were well made our way to The Farm. It is possible to get to Tulleys using public transport, but it is definitely more convenient to drive. At the time we were there, parking was plentiful, though I gather if they’re in the midst of an event like Shocktoberfest, it could be a bit harder. We all arrived early, and had a late lunch/early dinner in the tea room, as if there is anything I have learned about doing escape rooms, it’s that you must be properly fueled.
We had picked Nethercott Manor due to the times that were available for rooms once we finally narrowed down a date. Gord and I were, however, a bit nervous to be tackling the most difficult room with a new, and relatively inexperienced, team – particularly once it became apparent that we were to be down a man. As it turns out, our fears were unfounded, and we needn’t have worried
Once inside the main building, it was warm, and inviting, with wood burners, comfortable seats, and a bar. There was plenty of space to have three-four teams of up to eight people waiting at any one time. You can tell that Tulleys have really invested in the space, and want their guests to feel welcome. Finally, it was nearing the start of our game and our GM approached us. After a quick briefing outside the room, where we were re-introduced to the various padlocks we may come across in the space, we were led to the entrance to Nethercott Manor.
We entered the space, and stepped into a moss covered porch that was a combination of beautiful and creepy, with hanging moss, low enough to tickle the neck of even the shortest team member (i.e. me). After an illuminating discovery, we set about finding a way to enter our very own haunted mansion.
Within the confines of this small space, we had to complete no less than four challenges in order to gain entry to the main house. Once we entered the main space, it was a delightful series of twists, and surprises, with some classic style puzzles, along with some unexpected reveals. Just when you think you’re nearly finished, something new would be revealed, and you were kept guessing right to the very end, just exactly how much further this house would go.
Tulleys have clearly spent an inordinate amount of both time and money to make this an experience that you are not likely to forget, and it has paid off. If you’re willing to work independently from your team, in order to do what needs to be done, then you won’t regret taking on the challenges of Nethercott Manor.
The puzzles within Nethercott Manor were varied and plentiful, with a nice mix of padlocks, searching, and also some more advanced tech that would trigger a something completely unexpected. These puzzles tested your powers of observation, utilising all your senses, and were a combination of physical skill puzzles, logical reasoning, maths, and occasionally just looking at something in a different way.
Puzzles were logical, and flowed seamlessly, but were numerous. Game play is non-linear, and if you expect to finish the game, you will need to be willing to split up and occasionally work independently, or it simply isn’t possible to complete everything. I do think difficulty is subjective, so perhaps it was the way our minds worked, but to me, the difficulty of the room comes from the sheer volume of challenges you must solve in order to escape. Whenever we did require guidance, it was generally because of a failure to search properly, not due to any failure on the part of the puzzle design. The only real frustration came from the one puzzle that you can see quite clearly what you need to do, but the actual process of doing is time consuming, and if you are struggling, then there is no way to receive help.
The sheer scale of what Tulleys have done with this room is incredible (though perhaps calling it a ‘room’ is inaccurate). From the moment you step into the space from your waiting area, you leave the outside world behind.
Nethercott Manor felt more like a hybrid of a traditional style escape room, with combination of various padlocks working in conjunction with some 3rd Gen tech. This particular room hasn’t ventured into the fully immersive, narrative driven experience, as there wasn’t much of a story driving the game forward. Instead, your story was exploring the old haunted mansion; and there was quite a bit to explore. In order for Nethercott Manor to feel truly “immersive” to me, it really would have needed to be padlock free (simply because it is set in the 1800’s), but to be honest, I quite like the satisfaction of opening a padlock or two, so this didn’t detract from the experience at all, and the rest of the set was so perfect, I was happy to suspend my disbelief, and just enjoy the ride.
Our GM, and the staff of Tulleys in general, were warm, welcoming, and always helpful. Clues were delivered by a helpful spirit in a rather creepy whisper. Our minds very much clicked with the puzzles within Nethercott Manor, so we never had to ask for a clue, but we did have a few perfectly timed nudges from our resident spirit (typically to tell us to search a little harder), and a few that came through just as we realised we hadn’t quite gotten something right. I missed this but, according to Gord, there was also a secondary system that let you know you were on the right track for the final set of puzzles, which was both helpful, and added to the creepy factor.
Nethercott Manor is a simply amazing experience which, even before completing it, immediately shot into my top ten favourite rooms. Despite being down a team member, we did manage to complete the game in 52:41, and upon finishing, I was saddened by the fact that I would never be able to experience it again. However, we’re due to take on Mutiny and The Outfitters next weekend, and I can’t wait.
Team: 4 people – escaped in 52:41 (no clues)
Address: Tulleys Farm, Turners Hill Road Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 4PE