Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Angela and I have been busy contacting the owners and/or managers of the four most prominent sites in GREEN DARKNESS ( Cowdray Castle, Naworth Castle, Ightham Mote and the Spread Eagle Tavern) to see what life is like at those locations in our modern times.
First to respond to our inquiry was Becky Taylor from the Estate Office of Cowdray Heritage Trust.
She prefaced her answers to our questions by saying: "I believe that Anya Seton stayed at the Spread Eagle Hotel in Midhurst while she was researching Green Darkness, and the hotel is still open to the public. It’s a beautiful old building. St Ann’s Hill, which is also mentioned frequently in the novel, is still much as it has always been, and is accessible by a footpath leading from the ruins where the bridge crosses the river Rother." Becky went on to say, "While Cowdray is disappointingly free of 'spooky goings on' it is very beautiful and atmospheric, and I can completely understand why Anya Seton found it inspiring."
Now for our short Q & A e-interview with Becky...
Q: How many visitors come to Cowdray Castle during the months it is open (June through to September)?
A: The opening this year is very different to previous years, when the site was open five days a week from March to October. This year we have only been able to open for 28 days. By the time we close on 1st September I would think visitor numbers would be about 1,000, not including the guests of the three weddings held at Cowdray this year.
Q: Of those, how many make mention of the novel GREEN DARKNESS and/or its author Anya Seton?
A: I don’t think many of our visitors come here because of the novel (or at least they don’t admit to it), but a lot of them notice it for sale in our gift shop and ask about the connection. Many of them have very fond memories of reading it when it was first published.
Q: Are any of those visitors doing a tour of the other Sussex locales mentioned in that novel?
A: Occasionally a visitor will mention visiting Ightham Mote.
Q: We see that you close to tourists on September 1st -- do you still open at the end of October specifically to hold Halloween festivities at Cowdray Castle? If so, tell us about that night's events.
A: No, there are no Halloween Festivities at Cowdray. [online research shows that such activities used to be held at Cowdray. See the following link for info and good picture of Cowdray... http://www.frightnights.co.uk/home/index.php?cid=1841#.UhPHssu9KSM ]
Q: How many ghosts have been recorded as residing at Cowdray? and who do you suspect they were while they were alive?
A: There are no regular ghost sightings at Cowdray, which is generally a very peaceful and happy place. There have been reports of ghostly figures over the years, including a lady in one of the first floor windows and a pale figure in the surrounding woods, but I have to admit that I have yet to be convinced that there is anything there. As far as we can tell there were never any suspicious deaths at Cowdray, and no one was killed in the fire that destroyed the building in 1793.
Q: Can you tell us of any strange or unusual events that have happened at Cowdray since it reopened in 2007?
A: Occasionally some dogs have shown reluctance to enter the Tudor kitchen, but others are perfectly happy. Maybe it’s the change in temperature that they don’t like! We have in the past had paranormal investigation companies holding events at Cowdray, but I’m afraid I don’t know the results of those investigations.
Q: Please give us your official website so GREEN DARKNESS fans, who cannot get to England, can take a virtual tour of the majestic ruins of Cowdray Castle.
That is the latest for this blog. As I said earlier, if the locations respond, we will have more Q & A blogs coming in the near future.
Meanwhile, if you would like to read about specific locations or have questions you want to ask about GREEN DARKNESS locations, comment us!
Until next time --
Marla & Angela