Pip outside Satis House when Miss Havisham was in residence
When I was a child, my parents took me around a good many stately homes. Now, some children might find this a little on the tedious side - looking at a load of dusty old vases and portraits of the gentry in their best clothes. I on the other hand took each visit as an opportunity to disappear. Not out of sight of my parents (for that would have caused much angst and time spent on the naughty step).
No, with a suitably grandiose backdrop in place, I would lift the rope and climb into the realm of the imagination.
I would chase the ghosts up the back stairs and in and out of the bedrooms, explore the secret passageways and discover the treasure hidden by the family when the house was invaded by a secret Spanish force back in the days of good Queen Bess.
As I got older, there was a noticeable shift in fanciful daydream.... Then I would become the beauty of the house dressed in ballgown and elegantly sashaying down the grand staircase with my skirts sweeping behind me. Would the handsome hero waiting at the bottom notice me? You bet he would. Taking my hand, he would lead me into the dancing, gazing longingly into my eyes...
Another time, he may just happen to find me seated in the Elizabethan garden or once again visiting my childhood den beneath the weeping beeches... In the verdant seclusion he would fall under my spell....
Ah yes, I do love a good stately home. Yesterday I went to this one where the spirit of Miss Havisham lingers... although it looks a little more cared for these days!
Holdenby House, present day (no jilted brides to be seen - though you can get married here!)
Seriously, how is a girl supposed to conjure up Mr Darcy with half the county there peddling sausages? Poor King Charles I was turning in his grave... (he spent five months in captivity here before Cromwell chopped his head off).
Who are these mysterious and shadowy figures in the Elizabethan garden?