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  • Location: Malborough, Wiltshire

The Phantom Tree

Why a Booktrail?

1557 : A mysterious painting reveals secrets and more..

  • ISBN: 978-1848455047
  • Genre: Ghost/supernatural, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.

But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…

Travel Guide

Author travel guide

To follow Mary Seymour’s journey you would need to start at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, her place of birth, and travel from there to Grimesthorpe in Lincolnshire where she lived with the Duchess of Suffolk when she was a small child. In the story Mary then goes to Wolf Hall in Savernake Forest.

Exploring Savernake today is an amazing experience; there is a palpable feeling of the ancient forest surrounding you and leading you on magical paths to see wonderful things – thousand year old oak trees that witnessed the Tudor kings and queen themselves hunting in the forest! Also worth visiting is Littlecote Hall, near Hungerford. It’s a hotel but is open to the public for guided tours and it’s said to be one of the most haunted houses in the country!

I had a fabulous time researching as I was able to visit all the places in the story; walk in Savernake Forest, see the site of Wolf Hall, visit Littlecote and go to the church at Great Bedwyn to see Sir John Seymour’s tomb. I had read a lot about Wolf Hall and Savernake in the famous period when the Henry VIII courted Jane Seymour there, but I was writing about the next generation so I wanted to discover what happened next to the Seymours. I scoured the records for information on Marlborough and the surrounding area in the Elizabethan period, and also read up on the exploits of Wild Will Dayrell of Littlecote, a Seymour cousin, who was the inspiration for Will Fenner in the book.

 

Trail Gallery

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

This book is like a historical package wrapped up in a Tudor bow with a jewel of a plot inside, intrigue spilling out of the sides and….well you get the idea.

Imagine finding a portrait of  a woman people believe is Anne Boleyn but you know is Mary Seymour, the daughter of the late Queen Katherine Parr…you know for sure that it is her as it’s linked to your own family history.

What may sound like a complicated plot is far from it. It’s complex yes but intricately so and takes you on a twisty turny plot of historical intrigue.

The dual plot is essential to this story and the link between the two is just brilliantly done. Mary Seymour narrates her own part of the story. As Alison investigates from the present day, you find out how the portrait came to be done, the mysteries of a box with secret treasures inside, what life was like for Mary and her family and the fear of living in the Tudor age as a woman.

The writing was so evocative I felt I was inside the houses in the book, could hear the creaking floorboards and even smell the stale air. The book really sucks you in and when you realise it’s all based on true fact (of course with a fictional story) then it’s even more fascinating.

Nicola works in an old historical property and I can only imagine what her tours are like if she weaves a story like this! THIS really is history brought to life. Wonderful!

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:  The Phantom Tree

Author/Guide:   Nicola Cornick  Destination:  Malborough, Wiltshire Departure Time: 1550s

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