More Shadows (of the Lost Child)

Those of you who read the previous post will know that the early chapters of my next novel, Shadows of the Lost Child, is available on Wattpad.

Although Curdizan, where the story is set, is a fictional city, for some of its elements, I researched and drew on historic York (UK).

York-1 EllieStevenson

If you walk around York, you can visit several places which provided inspiration. York is ideal for inspiration because of its history and fascinating stories. For example:

Pavement, one of the main streets, refers to when it was the only street in the whole town which had a floor of cobbles. Beneath York streets lie many bones that were thrown out of people’s houses, acting as a road surface. In front of each house was a dung hill, these were cleared two or three times a year, usually when a celebrity visited. Often such houses had a piece of wood outside, so neighbours could sit and talk to each other. (Source: James Raine, York, 2nd ed. 1893)

This period was, naturally, a long time ago, and well before when my novel is set – the present and early 20th century.

York-3-EllieStevenson

Modern, refurbished, beautiful Curdizan, complete with an abbey, contrasts strongly with the town of the past, a darker world of poverty, pawn shops and prostitution. In the past we meet Tom and Miranda, and when Thomas of the past meets Alice of the present, everything changes and much of the dark has to come to the light. Then, of course, there are the ghosts.

More about the characters (and ghosts) next time.

Chapter Three is now available here.

Ellie Stevenson, authorArticle written by Ellie Stevenson, author. This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

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Some images of York: http://gb.pinterest.com/stevensonauthor/york-ancient-and-modern/

New Novel: Shadows of the Lost Child

Shadows of the Lost Child (by Ellie Stevenson) Available soon.

Shadows of the Lost Child (by Ellie Stevenson)
Available soon.

Last week, I mentioned some forthcoming news. Here it is!

My next novel, Shadows of the Lost Child, will be available on Amazon shortly, but before that happens, readers will have a chance to dip into the work.

You can read the first chapter NOW on Wattpad and more chapters will be coming soon.

Feel free to send me any comments and thoughts about the book.

There are ghosts, a supposedly haunted house and an element of time travel, so lots to enjoy!

You can read a short summary below.

In next week’s post, I’ll talk a little about some of the themes that inspired the novel.

In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter (and the good weather!).

SUMMARY

The book is set in two time periods, the present and the past (early twentieth century).

The Present

Aleph Jones is running away but the house he ends up in turns out to be haunted. Or is it just him? For Aleph has a dark secret that’s changed his life.

Cressida Sewell needs Aleph’s help. Her daughter Alice refuses to speak and a team of specialists don’t know why. But Cressida has a hidden agenda and Alice knows more than she’s letting on. About Aleph.

Guinevere James is not what she seems. Disguised as Aleph’s business client, she really wants to solve a murder that happened over a century ago. But what about the children who vanished? Aleph and Alice can hear them scream.

The Past

Miranda and Thomas live in poverty. Miranda wants to protect her mother but when she seeks help from friends Ben and Thomas, they set on a path to even more trouble. Then Tom meets Alice and the past and the present begin to collide, with dangerous consequences.

Read the first chapter of Shadows of the Lost Child on Wattpad.

Article written by Ellie Stevenson, author. Ellie Stevenson, author
This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

Want to share this post on Twitter? Here’s a suggested tweet for your timeline:

Shadows of the Lost Child, Ellie Stevenson’s second novel will be available soon. Read the very first chapter now with #thehauntedhistorian – http://tinyurl.com/mbstnf2

Coasting in Dorset – Part Two

St Andrew's Church © Ellie Stevenson imagesA while ago (far too long) I promised a blog about Monkton Wyld Court. Here it is. Equidistant between Charmouth and Axminster (Dorset), the Court started out as the local vicarage. But with its Victorian gothic pedigree (built in 1848) it looks more like a stately home.

St Andrew’s Church, which is just down the road, was built about the same time, its first stone being laid in 1848, and the building being consecrated in March 1850. Elizabeth Hodson partly funded the church – she was riding past, possibly by carriage, and thought it might make a good location.

The church itself is of some interest, and worth a visit, with its lovely woodwork and attractive stained glass.The spire of the church is 120 feet high and the clock was added in 1911. It has since been reguilded.St Andrew's Church © Ellie Stevenson images

Various vicars lived at what is now the Court, one of whom was the Reverend Camm (1871-1896). It is said he lived there mostly alone as his wife wasn’t overly fond of the country. Reverend Camm was a music enthusiast and had more than 4,000 scores. He would frequently go up to London for concerts but only ever saw the rehearsals because the concerts themselves were held on Saturdays and he couldn’t get back in time for church.

In 1896 the then current vicar, the Rev. Salmon, moved the vicarage to another location, and in the 1930s Monkton Wyld Court became a hotel.

At some point during WW2 there was boarding for children who were separated from their families because of the war.

St Andrew's Church stained glass © Ellie Stevenson imagesWhen the hotel closed in 1940, the buildings and land were bought for £4,000, and a school was set up by a small group of graduates including Carl and Eleanor Urban. Urban admired the  philosophy of a man called Alexander Sutherland Wells who founded the Summerhill School in Suffolk (1921).

The Monkton Wyld School focused on a more cooperative way of living and working, and although it closed in 1982, the charitable trust (with the buildings and land) was transferred to some of the school staff. The Monkton Wyld sustainable community was born and now offers volunteering opportunities and holistic education for the general public. It’s also open to visitors for bed and breakfast and offers delicious vegetarian food.

Impressive now (if run down in parts), the building must have been stunning once. It had a gravelled drive, flankedSt Andrew's Church, stained glass © Ellie Stevenson images by trees and flowering shrubs in ten acres of land. The building was designed by Richard Cromwell Carpenter, a Victorian architect who admired the gothic and also designed St Andrew’s church. The Court was described as being of ‘the domestic style of architecture with rubble wallings…clad in a variety of choice flowering and evergreen creepers.’ (early sales material). It was certainly striking and even now has some special features including a reed bed sewage system.

Looking around, at its spacious rooms and enormous windows it’s easy to imagine the Court as an ideal place for a ghost to lurk. However, I could find no trace of either legends or ghosts. The community staff are focused and  practical, the house is in need of considerable upkeep, there are few shadows for ghosts to hide in.

There are however, ghosts in abundance in the local area: several stories are shared below.

St Andrew's Church, stained glass © Ellie Stevenson imagesIn 2005, a photo was taken of an alleged ghost in the Lyme Regis Boys Club. A girl of two was seen talking to herself, when asked who to, the girl said ‘Sam’. There was no Sam among the group of children and nobody else around at the time. Later, one of the adults took photos with his digital camera. A ‘ghostly’ image appeared on the photo. Was it a ghost or a trick of the light? Incidentally, the building had once the local church hall and was used by the U.S. Army in WW2.

One evening in 2004, a woman driver and her passenger, on the road between Charmouth and Bridport, saw a woman dressed in white sweep across the road. They both reported that the car became cold at the time of the sighting.

The 16th century facade is all that is left of the original building, now the Bridport Museum. ‘The Old Castle’ was bought by a Captain Codd in 1931 for £1,800, originally to house his own art collection. He donated the building to the Council on condition that they would pay for it to be turned into a museum and art gallery.

A man in a yellow smoking jacket, seen in the museum, is said to be the ghost of Codd and staff have also mentioned a woman called Gladys, thought to be associated with a Victorian dress on display upstairs.

Monkton Wyld Court © Ellie Stevenson images

Sources

Further Information

Holy, but Haunted

york-minsterSome years ago, I wrote a short story about the ghost of novelist Charlotte Brontë. You can read a sample of the story here. Charlotte Brontë, her work and her life  have long been a source of interest to many, and some have sensed her spirit lives on. In her local church. More about that aspect later.

Charlotte Brontë was a clergyman’s daughter and to ‘find’ her in a church isn’t surprising. Even if it isn’t her actual church but only the replacement which stands on the spot. Churches have long been a source of ghosts, imagined or real (?), the air being thick with history and strife, many lives, overlaid with time. Here are just a few examples.

York Minster (see above)

As churches go, York Minster is somewhat special. It too has its share of ghostly history, including a very poignant story. A man, B.L., was visiting the Minster and talking to a friend and his two daughters. Another man, wearing a naval uniform, walked towards them. One of the daughters went very pale. The navy man then whispered to the woman: ‘There is a future state,’ he said, before vanishing down the aisle of the Minster.  B.L. tried to find where he’d gone, without success, but the daughter then made everything clear. The man, it turned out, was her brother, who had just died at sea. They’d made an agreement, whoever died first would go to the other and show that life after death exists. And that’s what happened.

News came which confirmed her story, her brother had died on the very same day, at the same time, that she’d seen his presence, standing there in the north aisle.

cleeve-hill-roadCleeve Hill (Cheltenham)

Sometimes, just to be near to a church is enough for a haunting.

Cleeve Hill is the highest point in Gloucestershire and the Cotwolds, being a little over 1000 feet above sea level. A teacher, driving down from the Hill, saw a funeral procession making its way across a field, close to the road. She noticed the cortege was moving slowly and was rather smart, but couldn’t see why it was crossing the field, instead of using the easier road. She also saw men accompanying the hearse, dressed in black, but slightly wobbly, and laughing a lot. She didn’t know this was a Victorian funeral.

In Victorian times, a cortege might take a different route to the usual one, to keep spirits away from the living. And as for the men, attendants might have a little gin, and sometimes too much, and so become tipsy.

The woman was intrigued by the unusual sight, and turned her car round, wanting to see more. But she was too late, the procession had gone, and far too quickly in such a short time… unless of course she’d seen a ghost. St Peter’s Church overlooks the site, perhaps the funeral had come from there. The teacher had unpleasant dreams of Victorian faces for months to come.

St Andrew’s, Langenhoe (Colchester)

This church was demolished in 1962 but was once one of the most haunted in Essex. The vicar, Ernest Merryweather, appointed to the church in 1937, always kept a diary, and soon used it to record ghosts.  The church was plagued with many incidents, including one where labourers heard the sound of chanting, sung in French, in an empty church. The Reverend also saw a woman, the same woman, on two occasions, but two years apart (1949 and 1951). The first time, she vanished into a place where a doorway had been, through an internal tower wall. Merryweather hadn’t known the door existed. The second time she vanished through St George’s statue, which was placed in front of what had once been the door.

A year later, Merryweather was in the middle of a service, when he spotted a woman who suddenly vanished – the woman looked sad, and might have been someone different from before. Weeks later,  he heard a noise and thought from the sound that the tower was collapsing. It wasn’t. There were other things too. These included the church door slamming, a man’s footsteps, a woman exclaiming ‘Ow!’ (twice) and a hideous smell.

The church had not had an easy history. It was struck by an earthquake in 1884, and this had damaged the building badly, although even before,  the tower was said to be in a vulnerable condition, and had been compared to the leaning tower of Pisa. After the earthquake, the church was rebuilt, but it didn’t survive another century. After Merryweather left in 1959, the church was no longer used for prayers – apparently because it was too dangerous. But dangerous why – because of its structure – or because of the ghosts inside the building?

new-bronte-church-haworthAnd finally, back to Charlotte Brontë. George Hauton of the Brontë Society is on record (see details of YouTube video listed below) as sensing Charlotte’s spirit in her old church in Haworth. Or rather, in the church that replaced hers in the late nineteenth century. It seems that churches come and go – but the ghosts live on…

Sources

  • Ackroyd, P The English Ghost, Vintage, 2011
  • Barham, A Lost Parish Churches of Essex, Ian Henry Publications, 1999
  • Mitchell, J V Ghosts of an Ancient City, Cerialis Press, 1974
  • White, D Haunted Cheltenham, History Press, 2010
  • YouTube video – Charlotte Brontë 1 of 2: Ghosts & Lost Photos

Sources of Images