(Oct 11th to 17th)

Format: Triple

They entered the hall— just such a high light hall as such a house should own. A slim-balustered staircase, wide and shallow and once creamy white, climbed out of it under a long oval window. On either side delicately moulded doors gave onto wool-lumbered rooms, whose sea-green mantlepieces were adorned with nymphs, scrolls, and Cupids in low relief.


This is from “An Habitation Enforced” in Actions and Reactions.

George Chapin, an American businessman who has suffered a breakdown from overwork, is travelling in Europe with his wife Sophie to recuperate. In deepest Sussex farmland they happen on a deserted and elegant old house. They fall in love with it, buy it and settle down to make a new life in the English countryside.

Across the lawn—the marshalled woods besieged it on three sides—stood an ancient house of lichened and weather-worn stone, with mullioned windows and roofs of rose-red tile. It was flanked by semi-circular walls, also rose-red, that closed the lawn on the fourth side …


This is from “They” in Traffics and Discoveries. The narrator, driving across Sussex, takes a turning down a track through the woods, and happens on this beautiful old house. He makes friends with its mistress, a blind lady, and they talk of the children playing in the garden. It is only on a later visit that he discovers the house’s secret: ‘They’ are not living children, but ghosts.

…out of the woods that know everything and tell nothing, came two dark and mysterious Primitives. They had heard. They would sink that well, for they had ‘the gift’. Their tools were an enormous wooden trug, a portable windlass whose hand;es were curved, and smooth as ox horns, and a short-handled hoe…


This is from Chapter VII of Something of Myself, “The Very-own House”.

Kipling is describing the sinking of a well at Bateman’s, his Sussex house, in which they found many traces of people who had lived there in the past, a Jacobean tobacco pipe, a worn Cromwellian lateen spoon, and the bronze cheek of a Roman horse-bit.