As a child, one of my favourite series of books were the ghost stories of Lucy M. Boston, set in a place called Green Knowe, a fictionalised version of Boston’s own house, The Manor at Hemmingford Grey near Cambridge.
The stories take place in many different periods in history, but all are linked by the presence of ghostly children and the house and its grounds.
I loved the books, not just because they were slightly scary (and they are only slightly scary – the ghosts are loving, and friendly and full of mischief), but because they were intriguing and utterly fascinating. The first book, The Children of Green Knowe, shows the hero, a young boy called Tolly, travelling to visit the grandmother he has never met before. His journey is interrupted by flooding, and he arrives at the house by boat, rowed by the gardener, holding a lantern to shed light on the watery darkness.
Boston had an uncanny way of creating an eerie sense of otherness in her books, an otherness in which anything might, and does happen.
It is possible to visit The Manor house in which Boston lived, and her books were set. Many of the items she includes in the books, which are so talismanic, and important to the stories, are still there; the beautiful quilts she stitched, and which provide the framework for some of her stories, and the statuesque topiary in the grounds.
Hemmingford Grey’s website is here. The house and grounds are open most of the year round. The house is open by appointment only.
Details of prices and opening times are available here.