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Short Stories from our members

In 2020 we launched a lockdown competition to ask members and readers of our weekly e-newsletter to write a short story about a member house of their choice.

Ushaw Library Photography by Alex Ramsay. Copyright Patrimony Committee of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales 3

In 2020 Historic Houses launched a competition to ask our members and readers of our weekly e-newsletter to write a short story about a Historic Houses member house of their choice. In the end over 60 member houses were written about and over a hundred stories entered. Here you can read a selection of these stories.

2020 Short Story Winner

Sherborne Castle in Dorset

‘Called Home’, by Suzanne Chinnock

There was a Then and there is a Now, a Beginning and an End, and everything that lies in between, which is where our stories are really shaped. In the Now I am sitting in Pope’s Seat. It enfolds me, this...

Second prize

Mellerstain House in Berwickshire

‘What I Owe to Mellerstain’, by Allan Bolton

Mum and I visited Mellerstain shortly before my poetry was published, celebrating its acceptance. The publisher aroused widespread interest in this debut collection from a man in his sixties. Reviewers couldn’t wait to read it. Informal signs were favourable.

Third equal prizes

Michelham Priory historic house

‘The Dragon of Michelham Priory’, by E.E. Rhodes

My grandfather said to watch out for the dragon, in case he nabbed me, but I, being six, was more concerned with the moat. The dragon was a dusty yellow, clacking monster, dancing along with a Morris troupe of red-faced...

Bramall Hall

‘An Act of Kindness’, by Pete McCaldon

On a bough high within the tangled woodland an owl swivels its head, aloof, great eyes scanning its domain. On the ridge above, the half-timbered manor house, lit by moonlight, looks down into the darkness of the narrow valley and...

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Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire

‘The Mander Family Doll’, by Diana Humphrey

I sit, back poker-straight, by the pillow in this room of dreams. The light is dim, blue-grey and the great trees rise over me, taller than the four-poster bed. Their trunks and branches glimmer white, they twist and writhe like...

Chenies Manor House from the front

‘The Composer’, by Ian Welland

Let me introduce myself to you. My name is George Verelain and I live in the grandest house in all of Buckinghamshire, a stunning Tudor Mansion called Chenies Manor. I lease the Manor from the Russell family and they allow...

Levens Hall in cumbria

‘The Rat of Levens Hall’, by John Perkins

Levens Hall in Cumbria is an outstanding Elizabethan House built around a 13th Century Pele Tower. It is also the site of the world’s oldest Topiary Garden dating back to the 1690’s. It also the site of a remarkable find...

Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire

‘Woodchester Mansion’, by Nick Hurst

“What’s the problem?” Bucknall was wary. He was young, and builder Gorton’s foreman Jackson had the experience and knowledge of his years. However, his status as architect gave him the necessary authority to command a respect which maybe age did...

Haddon Hall in Bakewell, Derbyshire

‘The Green Shoes’, by Linda Hardey

She had wanted so much to be a grandmother. Yet she felt guilty even about her sorrow - Helen’s loss being so much more personal than hers. The vicar at her church was kind. But the Christmas cribs and Nativity...

Hever Castle photo credit Carron Nightingale

‘If Stone Could Speak’, by Penni Tanton

Many people believe that stone is cold. I don’t. Stone is a thing of beauty, and from it I am learning to create magnificent things. The work is hard, and dangerous. The days are long. We start at daylight and...

Snow covers Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire in 2021

‘Kiplin Hall’, by Monique Gadella

Kiplin Hall, here I come! I have always wanted to visit this beautiful mansion and today I am. I park in a small walled area, maybe a drying yard. What a shame, they should do something with it. It would...

Renishaw Hall & Gardens water fountain

‘Renishaw Hall Reunion’, by Charles Parkes

“Did you ever go to Renishaw Hall?” “No. We left when I was about four. Dad was in the police and we moved to Glossop. I returned there in the late 70s as a Detective Constable, like father like son...

Parham House and Gardens credit Elizabeth Zeschin

‘The Lake’, by Leonard Edes

Stuart nursed a bottle of Cola between his lips as he stared across the lake in Parham Park, where he and  Ben (a fellow groundskeeper) were fishing. They had both spent most of the day providing the finishing touches to...

Chillington Hall

‘The Legend of Chillington Hall’, by Richard Lakin

It was a bone numbingly cold November afternoon. We’d had a hard frost and were set for many more. It was only a little after three and the light was fading fast. We’d had Freya for the day and as...

Dorney Court

‘Many Happy Returns’, by Robert Hailey

“I just need to retrace my steps.” That’s what Jimmy was thinking as he stood in the Great Hall of Dorney Court. The day out was part of Jimmy’s birthday treat. He especially wanted to visit Dorney Court because of...

Norton Conyers in Yorkshire

‘The Ghost of Norton Conyers’, by Sheila Merriman

‘Being dead is boring. Dead boring.’ Jane muttered as she drifted through the wall and sank onto the sofa next to Lady Graham. ‘What’s she watching on telly? Owt interesting?’ Gazing at the screen, Jane decided she really didn’t want...

Skaill House in the Orkney Islands

‘Kindred Spirit’, by David G. Uffelman

Ubby pushed off his small rowboat from the shores of the island in the center of the loch.  He had built the island himself, stone by stone carried from the craggy Mainland shore and deposited until a small island had...

Belmont House, Kent

‘The Tick-Tock Mystery’, by Nicola Millward

My alarm clock had been reliably inaccurate for the past few days; deciding to sound off at random hours during the small hours or not sparking into life at all.  The consequence of its failure to activate today meant that...

Harvington Hall is an Elizabethan Manor

‘The Spirit of Harvington Hall’, by S Royston Jenkins

I walked across the grounds from the church to the Hall, enjoying the sunshine and joined Alison as she led her the party into the kitchen; at least I didn't have to worry about any of the doors slamming shut...

Burton Constable Hall grounds

‘The Manservant of Burton Constable Hall’, by Robert Rayner

The chiming of the bells of Holy Trinity Church signalled that it was time for me to bid my sister farewell. Before I took my leave she offered me some pottage which I declined . She had but recently been...

Chillingham Castle

‘Wild Bill’, by Larry Winger

His arm half-way up a bellowing cow’s backside, he’s responding to the question that’s drifted in from off-camera.  ‘I remember that journey of discovery so well — it was just as we were exiting the roundabout with the concrete cows,...

Brynkinalt gate

‘The Battle of Brynkinalt’, by Pauline Vickers

It was the summer of 1782. A coach and horses was hurtling towards the village of Chirk. Arthur was on board, along with his mother and his sister. They were heading towards the Brynkinalt Estate, the ancestral home of the...

Kentwell Hall in Suffolk

‘The Memoirs of Cecilia d’Arcy’, by Barbara Holroyd

I was saved by three men. Quercus Oak, Tudor Ruff and Vine Weevil were not their God given names but bestowed on them from their character and their labours. I, Cecilia D'ewes which was my God given name until I married...

Hopetoun House in West Lothian near Edinburgh

‘The Ballroom’, by Lorna Fraser

‘…and no fraternising with the patients, missy. You’re simply here to support recuperation and ensure all the necessities are met, so that the men may return to active service. Is that clear?’

Arley Hall, Cheshire

‘The Sugar Castaway’, by Martine Bailey

‘You must both provide a spectacular dish for the grand feast,’ Lady Betty announced, peering at the two favourites of her household. ‘I trust that you, Whitaker, will use every artifice to create a dessert our guests will marvel at.'

Key membership card Sudeley

‘Murder at the Hall’, by Ida Leroy

Cottesbrook Hall although an important building was not significantly large or old enough to be classed as a Stately Home. However, the size and contents (probably the most important collection of equestrian and hunting paintings in the UK and priceless)...

Bywell Hall

‘The Ghost of Mary Arnott’, by Mag Feeney

“Hark! Who goes there? Can I be of aid?” It was difficult to see clearly, for the rain was lashing down in torrents, making it almost impossible to discern the shadowy form of an unusually tall figure, clutching something in...

Highclere Castle Library with stunning pillars

‘The Library’, by Jeannie Armstrong

“Do come in. Won’t you take a chair?" The newcomer looked stunned, but soon collected himself. Both men sat at opposite ends of the library. The visitor centrally on a chaise by the grand fireplace, the owner of the house...

Burghley House photo by James Willis

‘The Master’s Apprentice’, by Yvonne Heald

It was in the year of our Lord 1696 when the carriage dropped me at the side of the road. It was a beautiful summer’s day. On alighting, I could feel the heat strike my shoulders and head.

Arbury Hall, Warwickshire

‘Mary Anne’, by David Dumbleton

Mr. Charles Newdigate of Arbury Hall was away on business and his mother, Maria was overseeing the Estate in his absence. “Well Robert”, Maria said to the Estate Manager after they had concluded their business, “how is your family?”

Hever Castle and Gardens in September

‘The Annes of Hever Castle’, by Ceri Creffield

I loved Hever Castle from the first time I saw it. We were all travel-weary and I was anxious for a good wash, food and a comfortable chamber, yet my heart lifted for sheer joy when I saw its honey-coloured...

Brancepeth Castle

‘Bridget of Brancepeth’, by Angela Craddock

Safely encircled by the great walls of Brancepeth Castle lives a lonely little girl called Bridget. She is playing cheerfully with her dolls and her rocking horse, Remus, though from it’s very beginning her life was steeped in irreversible sadness.

Brancepeth Castle Gatehouse

‘Of Bobby Shafto and the Vision’, by Chris Milner

Could I accept such an invitation? There, at the end of the day? With the castle’s curtain wall a silhouette against the slowly-fading twilight, embracing us in its mystery? With the carriage waiting? With my fiancée so close by?

Goodwood House is a beautiful historic house next to the famous racecourse

‘The House, The Duchess, and Hogflesh’, by Kenneth Lea

The coach from Kent rattles to a halt, horses steaming and snorting from their efforts. A man descends, stretching and grumbling at his discomfort from the journey.

Penshurst Place historic Kent estate

‘Evoking Memories’, by Amanda Harvey Purse

Sitting within De Pulteney’s Hall at Penshurst Place, the Queen had itchy feet. This wasn’t a symptom of the illness she had just recovered from, it was because her mind was elsewhere.

Raby Castle Great Hall

‘Parhelion’, by Alison Beadle

Thomas shivered with cold and fear and uttered prayers under his breath, around him soldiers coughed nervously and swore and stamped their frozen feet, horses stirred uneasily, and an eerie silence had thrown it's cloak over the battle field.

Old Hall, South Burlingham

‘The Return to the Old Hall’, by Al Lacey

Long shadows stretched across the yard, blurring the edges of the stone work and hiding the tangle of plants growing up through the cracks in the flint.

Raby Castle, County Durham

‘The Raby Castle Affair’, by Steve Beadle

The great detective flicked an imaginary piece of fluff from his immaculately tailored suit and surveyed the family and guests gathered in the Drawing Room.

Glamis Castle in Scotland with daffodils

‘A Hand wi’ the Deil’, by Suzanne Milne

​Jem couldn’t remember where he was supposed to take these sandwiches.  He should have paid more attention to his supervisor but that was just typical of him.  The Sheriff had warned him that this Community Service was his last chance. Next...

Brighton Beach, Wynyard Hall Lounge

‘A Certain Pleasing Irony’, by Margaret Morey

Saturday lunchtime. Summer. The start of the sixties. My Dad’s home from his job at the steelworks in Middlesbrough. He only works a half-day on a Saturday. He goes upstairs for a good wash, and comes down in a suit and tie.

Kiplin Hall and Gardens in North Yorkshire

‘A Life Never Dies’, by Mike Watson

Beneath the slate roof of Kiplin Hall was a room that had rested in darkness for over a century. Without windows or doors, it was like a sealed box. In Summer the air in the room was jungle hot and...

Burton Constable Hall

‘A Curious Welcome’, by Hollie Jackson

Beyond the hills of East Yorkshire lies the bespoke house of Burton Constable. A house that is no stranger to visits from the extended siblings of the Constable family.

Ingatestone Hall lake

‘On Taking Arms Against a ‘C’ of Trebles’, by Stephen Brabner

It began when I discovered a touring theatre company were scheduled to perform ‘Pygmalion’ at Ingatestone Hall in Essex. As an aspiring but struggling scribbler, I was delighted to seize the chance to see a production within distance of London.

Samlesbury Hall

‘A Lockdown Diary’, by the Sherwood Care Home Residents

Samlesbury Hall, a historic house complete with ghost, is now owned by multi-millionaire Dick Ransom known for his entrepreneurial spirit and world-wide business empire who purchased the house to add to his portfolio of “Care Homes”, billed as glamorous retreats...

Keenan House, United States

‘How I Came to Live in a Mansion’, by Lynn Deanne Childress

For as long as I had lived in Madison, I had wanted to live at the Keenan House Mansion at 28 E. Gilman Street. But lately, I was preoccupied with a difficult man whose name shall not be spoken. He...

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