I love photographing windows, usually the view from within. And when it comes to windows, there is nothing I love more than leaded glass. When we were in England in March I shot several views from
Erinyes Manor Baddesley Clinton.
It’s difficult to explain what it’s like visiting a place after you’ve already absorbed it into the fantasy world you’re building, absorbed it because of its floorplan, its history–chosen for very practical reasons, when there was a prettier manor actually located in Cornwall that ought to have fit the bill. But it didn’t. And even though it was suggested that I use the exterior of the pretty manor and just make it be what I want it to be inside, I felt that with everything I was making up in this new world I was building, it felt necessary to have some solid walls to contain, and yes, to limit me. And so I chose the less-pretty manor because it fulfilled my needs, and with it came priest holes and a chapel and a moat. A moat!
And once chosen, this place that was only images and words in a guidebook and on the internet evolved into a place similar and yet very different. I let the original wing, built in medieval times, survive instead of vanish. I added an apple tree and a fountain where I have now see lives a wall of wisteria. My manor has ancient oaks so close to the moat, their long branches provide midnight escapes for children who want to explore in the moonlight, and midnight access for abductors whose aims are far less innocent.
But the one thing I never expected when I was writing? That I would walk its corridors, scale its stairs, inhale this place’s real magic in real life within months. The unexpected trip to England was not only a trip to my spiritual home, Cornwall, but an opportunity to visit a place that hitherto only really existed in my imagination.
So when we landed at Heathrow, we picked up our car and drove straight to the Midlands (not exactly on the way to Cornwall, mind you).
How to describe? It wasn’t Erinyes Manor. And yet, it was comfortable and familiar to me. I kept saying, “I could live here.” Unlike many stately homes (St Michael’s Mount, you gorgeous thing, I’m looking at you) this one felt oddly historic and yet livable at the same time. The scale was human; the atmosphere was warm.
I could imagine family dinners more easily than stiff, formal occasions (okay, I’d replace the sidechairs).
The kitchen begged to be the center of a family’s life (even though it probably wouldn’t have been at the time built) and the library only needed some paperbacks and more comfortable seating to be utter bliss. (The Resident Storm Chaser has the best pics so I will wait until I get them before posting more.)
Baddesley Clinton was the embryo of my Erinyes Manor, for which I am ever grateful. But it is more.
I love windows. I love looking in. I love looking out.
But in this case, I stepped through the window and into another world, a world that had been fully lived in and fully loved, and if I manage to capture a bit of that reality in my fantasy, I will be very happy indeed.