Now I ask you -- how easy would it be to write a cool children's story in that setting?
Which leads me to the point of this post (in case you were wondering): Isn't it interesting how the English write children's stories set in big old country houses? Just think:
1) C.S. Lewis put four siblings in an old rambling country house during WWII with Professor Digory Kirke.
2) Lucy Boston, about whom I've written before (here and here), puts her boy Tolly into an ancient home, adds some magic and time travel and a few bad characters, and creates a lovely children's classic series.
|Lucy Boston's actual spooky old house in Cambridgeshire|
That's three. One would be an anomaly; two a coincidence; three a pattern.
Why do the English like to use their old crumbling mansions as settings for children's stories? What in the English psyche tends this way? Do they dream as children of going for a vacation to such a creepy old place? Is The Old Rural Mansion somehow entrenched in the English mind as a place of childhood delights? I wish I knew! I confess to jealousy; I wish I'd grown up in a land where such houses were there for the looking-at around each hedgerow bend. I wish my grandma lived in a dank, mammoth residence with fourteen fireplaces for warmth and we spent each Christmas there. How would my inner child be different if that were true?
|Seekings House, the setting for "The Box of Delights"|
One exception is a home my uncle's family lived in when I was a child. It was in rural Virginia, an historic home with a boxwood garden in the rear. It was called Federal Hill, and I had to inquire of a cousin where it's located. (There are quite a few "Federal Hill"s in Virginia.) When I look into it more, perhaps I'll share about this house because I did have a lovely time there, and I was the perfect age (maybe 4th grade?) for adventures and hide-and-seek in the garden. Maybe our American settings aren't so boring after all? One can hope.