Travel with The Lost Ones and Anita Frank
Travel to gothic Greyswick Hall with Anita Frank..and The Lost Ones
Travel with The Lost Ones and Anita Frank – There’s a REAL treat in store today for Authorsonlocation heads down to the creepiest manor house I ever did see in a novel. It’s Greywick where The Lost Ones is set. This is a novel which will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. “Some houses are never at peace.” Well, Anita Frank is here to take you around that house….Enter if you dare….
Where did you set your book and why?
I never specify in The Lost Ones where Greyswick itself is located, but we do know that it lies an easy train ride from both London and Swindon, which potentially puts it within the area I currently live – the Berkshire / South Oxfordshire border – and I certainly drew on the countryside around me when describing Greyswick’s setting
What about the research involved. How did you do this?
I studied history at university, and have long been interested in the First World War period, as well as social history during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and since childhood I’ve been fascinated by ghosts and supernatural theories. When writing The Lost Ones, I supplemented the basics of my knowledge through all sorts of methods – reference books, memoirs, literature, television documentaries, the internet, and even period dramas.
Did you visit the places in the novel?
Stella’s family home, Haverton Hall, bears a marked resemblance to Basildon Park, which is a National Trust property not far from where I live, and one which I’ve visited on a number of occasions. It’s built in the classic Palladian style and has the two wings which originally graced Stella’s house, before the fire that brings tragedy to her family.
The other stately home I was inspired by is Overstone Hall, in Northamptonshire, whose story instantly struck a chord with me. It has sadly fallen into a dire state of disrepair following a fire. It’s also not open to the public, so I was only able to ‘visit’ it via the internet. I had wanted Greyswick to be a horror house. Not the type of horror house one usually finds in a ghost story – the neglected stately home or dilapidated, rambling mansion. The horror had to be its ghastly pretention, its tasteless opulence. I wanted its crassness to be so acute as to be revolting. The story of Overstone Hall seemed to echo that.
It was commissioned in 1860 by Lady Overstone who was keen to create a property that reflected her family’s status, now that her husband – an eminent banker and politician of the time – had been raised to the peerage. It mixed Elizabethan and Renaissance architectural styles and was to become one of the most derided newly built properties of the Victorian era. Lady Overstone herself died before the house was completed, while her husband, Lord Overstone, refused to live there, so great was his contempt for the monstrosity. He wrote to friends:
‘The new house, I regret to say, is a cause of unmitigated disappointment and vexation. It is an utter failure, although very large and full of pretension – it has neither taste, comfort nor convenience. I am utterly ashamed of it.’
Like Overstone Hall, Greyswick is an unsuccessful marriage of architectural influences, and its opulent rooms offer very little comfort to its occupants.
Is location key to your story or a background?
Whilst location isn’t key to Greyswick, having both London and Swindon within easy reach did prove essential for the plot!
Where in that location would you recommend readers go to ‘ see’ your novel?
If a reader wanted to get a feel for the grounds that surround Greyswick, I would suggest they visit the gardens of Bowood House. They could also take a ramble through Crowsley Park in South Oxfordshire and the beech woodland that abuts it. I often walk my dog at the latter and my descriptions of the parkland at both Haverton Hall and Greyswick have been influenced by its meadows. The neighbouring woods provided the setting for Stella’s eventful country walk.
Thank you so much for this wonderful tour to The Lost Ones! Superb book.
BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Lost Ones