I’m delighted to welcome fellow Westmorland Writer and pal, Fiona Glass to tell us about her new book, ‘Got Ghosts?’
Live in Cumbria? You can find the Westmorland Writers here on Facebook. Over to Fiona!
You may wonder what I’m doing here on Deborah’s blog. Fair enough, I have a new book out, but it’s a paranormal romp set firmly in the present, and there’s nothing very historical about a TV production crew being chased round a haunted manor house by a bunch of ghosts. More hysterical than historical, or so you might think.
However, there’s quite a bit of history in ‘Got Ghosts?’ if you peer through the cracks in the floorboards.
First, there’s that haunted manor house. Greystones Hall (loosely based on various old houses I’ve visited over the years including Snowshill Manor, Chillingham Castle and Harvington Hall) is described as “…a typical English country house, with bits surviving from almost every century since 1066 – and the foundations of a Saxon chapel to boot.” It’s long, low, rambling, and in parts incredibly ancient – just like many old houses scattered the length and breadth of the country, some of which have been inhabited by the same family since the year dot. Sizergh Castle in Cumbria, for instance, has been in the hands of the Strickland family for over 750 years, and there are plenty more just like that.
Most of those old houses are chock full of family possessions gathered over not just decades but literally centuries. Those possessions, like the homes themselves, have their own stories to tell, of how and why they were cherished or created, and what happened to them over the years. Some remained at the heart of a home; others were lost or destroyed. In ‘Got Ghosts?’ it’s very much a case of the latter, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what, and why!
Many old country homes are also riddled with secret passages and ‘priest holes’ – small spaces built into the fabric of the house for Catholic priests to hide or escape at a time (mostly in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I) when they were persecuted. Sometimes these are tiny and would only have housed the vestments and vessels for Mass. Sometimes they were much larger and provided space for one or several priests to hide up for hours or even days. The priest hole at Greystones Hall isn’t unusual; some houses had two or three, and the best, Harvington Hall in Worcestershire, has about ten.
Then, of course, there are the ghosts. And wherever you have ghosts, you have history, because those ghosts were people once with their own stories, families, and fates. In ‘Got Ghosts?’ they range from a medieval knight right through to the present day and heroine Emily’s grandfather, who still watches over her. There’s also the mad, bad Alfred, a Byronesque artist from the early nineteenth century, whose story weaves together with that of Greystones Hall and is central to the book.
History is all around us really. Scratch the surface of the most modern thing you can think of and history bleeds from its very pores. I just hope you’ll agree that it’s history bleeding from the pages of ‘Got Ghosts?’, and not something else! READ MORE