A rusty rapier, a red guitar, and record collection lay strew about the chapel in various states of honor. A turntable sat on the pulpit, backed by an aging Led Zeppelin poster and belting the sounds of Pink Floyd. Upstairs, an archery target held court over the empty gallery of seats used by churchgoers for more than 100 years—before this place became the home of the Nocturnal Knights of Good.
I let an arrow fly.
The Nocturnal Knights are a new organization comprised of retired intelligence officers that transport themselves around the galaxy in a wooden time machine built out of organ pipes. Powered by mercury, the organ pipes supply a steady stream of kinetic energy around the frame of the transport, allowing the Knights to travel through time to right the wrongs of the past…though they haven’t yet figured out how to land. And, the time machine only works if its on a Ley line: of which there are only two coursing through Britain.
Fortunately, our chapel in North Wales is built on one of those lines. It traces a direct route over a medieval well hidden behind a not-so-secret-secret-door in the kitchen towards a neolithic tomb on the Isle of Man, wafting over other ancient stone circles and holy sites along the way.
Thwamp. My arrow hit the mark just north of the bullseye, sticking for a moment before its suction cup tip let free and tumbled onto a pew.
On this spot, in a hall of toys created by our AirBnB host, Dan, reality was blending into the surreal. Dan built this place on his own by buying an abandoned 1860’s church in a coastal village on the Irish Sea. In the States, he might be looked at as a loon. Here, he’s a genius.
The time machine itself stays hidden, for the most part; but it’s truly a work of museum-quality art. When Dan moved into the church 15 years ago, he began ripping out the heart of the old church organ. He did so at the request of a widow next door, whose husband had passed and who’d become bothered by the constant drone of the organ’s pipes. In killing the organ, Dan found himself with a surplus of thousands of lead pipes, wooden boxes, and keys. For a lifelong craftsman who’d variously spent time as a commercial fisherman, a shepherd, and an engineer, the temptation was impossible to resist.
Soon, the organ’s organs—once part of a great sonic machine—found new life as art once more.
“For it to be art, it has to grab your attention for at least 20 seconds,” Dan says.
This certainly did.
But Dan’s time machine does more than grab the attention. It transports you back in your own timeline, to a place where it was okay to imagine and just fine to dream. If a dead organ can be a time machine, a pulpit can be a DJ booth. If a church can be a house, it can also be a grand, medieval hall. And since you’re already in a hall, why can’t it be filled with rock n’ roll?
In short, this place lets you be a kid.
In addition to the swords, stage, and sounds; there’s a barber chair, a VHS collection, a Darth Vader helmet, a fully-stocked “drinking table”, a table tennis court, several lounge areas, the horns of a Texas longhorn, and the makings of a five-piece band shoved into one corner.
Downstairs, there’s a three bedroom, two bath living space that Dan built himself. It’s in the church, on top of the well, over the Ley line in a tiny town in Wales.
If you walk down the street here, the locals will look at you with surprise. “Anything to do in Old Colwyn?” laughed a bartender. “Not much ’round here.”
Not much, it turns out, but the Nocturnal Knights of Good and their home for the time traveler in us all.