Friday, 10 January 2014

Ellis Hall - 1

I'm writing a story in parts - please begin by reading the prologue here.

Isabel - the present day

The flat is vast - when they split the hall for the purpose of creating 'rare and highly sought after character homes', they afforded this one, I imagine, the lion's share. From the ground floor we face both south and east, spread throughout the right-hand wing of a large and ornate building which, despite its obvious age, has avoided the derelict fate of many of its contemporaries of a similar date. It has been lucky to be lived in throughout the years. Early sun warms our kitchen through tall, narrow windows, overlooking the ornamental hedges and the paving which punctuates the lawn - tended by our factor who is (not inexpensively) paid for by us all.

Five homes. Nine other residents in addition to us. In the past it would almost certainly have housed many more. Lodging servants likely averaged our number at any given point, and foot traffic from the village over matters of rent, dispute and work, would have trampled our whistling postman in their haste and early morning rush. Today it is a quiet place to live. There is great beauty - I find - in solid stone walls several feet thick. And comfort - if not always warmth - from smooth worn slate and blackened fire bricks.

We are here a little by chance, renting the space via a letting agent in town. A one year lease - to determine if our experiment in moving south, for the benefit of Danny's career, should work out.

Our sitting room looks to have been an original family lounge - hearth of black and somewhat overbearing wooden mantle-piece surround. We scatter our books and belongings and think we have quite landed on our feet, as a unknown family in an unfamiliar town. We are arrived yet only weeks - the house and its gardens provide still the excitement of a well chosen holiday home or curious, inviting retreat. I wander the grounds, during the long dark afternoons without Danny around. I push Alice in her buggy and on occasion if the weather holds, we walk the footpath into town. It is January now - the trees of the estate are bleak and bare. Rooks swarm and caw and theirs is an angry song above us on the damp, cold air. From the bottom of the lawn where the pond begins I regard Ellis Hall - solid and statuesque - and its multitude of windows, dark and blank in the growing dim. Only a few glow yellow - warm and inviting and reassuringly lit from within.

1 comment:

  1. There's an under current to this.... such a grand building with so much 'history'. I wonder what these new residents are going to discover here - and a brand new home does feel like a holiday home home doesn't it? X

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