Yesterday, as some of you know, I went to visit my Uncle’s grave in the village in Lincolnshire, England, where I was born, and where my grandparents had a farm where I spent many happy hours as a child. I promised some of you that I would write more about the Beautiful Lady. So here goes:
The farm was a magical place, full of all sorts of nooks and crannies, and spooky rooms. It was a very very large, old building, probably built in medieval times. It was the most beautiful place I have ever known, full of love. A wondrous place for a child.
As you entered the farmhouse, you went, first, into the back kitchen, which consisted of just a huge old sink with running water drawn from the old pump that was next to the farmhouse. It had its own well. My grandfather used to have to pump the water by hand, but in time, the pump was electrified, which made life much easier. My grandmother just placed a wooden table in the kitchen to put pots on after they had been washed in the huge, deep sink, served only by cold water. She would have to heat and carry hot water from the boiler beside the huge fire in what was called the kitchen proper, to the sink, in order to wash the pots.
Having gone through the back kitchen, you then passed the bottom of the first staircase, on your left, and what was called the front door, on your right, which was hardly ever opened, and found yourself in the kitchen proper. A huge room, where all the cooking and baking was done. It had a massive range, with a boiler on one side of the fireplace for boiling large amounts of water, and an oven on the other side. My grandmother was an amazing cook. Going off the kitchen was a huge pantry, where all the food was stored, usually complete with mouse!
“We’ve got a mouse,” was the oft heard cry.
So, mouse traps were continually set in the pantry. It had a mouse proof cage made of strong wire, to keep the food safe. Often, at night, sitting by the fire, we would hear the mouse trap go off.
The next room was what was called The Middle Room, where we sometimes sat for a special treat. It had a huge fireplace in it too, and a nice sofa and chairs, and a massive posh dining table and chairs. The chief attraction there, for me particularly, was the piano, which I loved to bash hell out of!
Next comes the eerie bit. Good for Halloween! Going off that room was what we called The Far Room, but also, through another door was a spooky corridor, leading to the wash house, where all the laundry was done. Of course, there was a posher, which was used to get the clothes clean, and another boiler to boil water in with a fire, and a mangle. There was also a tin bath, which I was always scared to go in for fear of one of my Uncles, or my grandfather coming by whilst I was sitting there in the altogether!
But…..off this corridor on the right, was a staircase. As a child, I never knew where it went. Only the very bottom of it was visible, as it soon turned so you could not see to the top of it. This was the corridor that my grandmother would take me down, each night, to go to the outside wooden lav, before going to bed. A lav with no running water or flush, but that my grandfather had to empty at various intervals and bury the contents. We would go there each night, carrying a torch, because for most of my childhood the farm had no electric, and it was lit by oil lamps hanging from the ceiling, or that you carried with you as you walked around. But going down this spooky corridor my grandmother carried a torch. We always used to run past the bottom of that staircase, because we had no idea who might be there. Our imaginations always ran wild. But it was that sort of house. Often the nights were wild, and Wuthering Heights comes to mind as I am writing this. Going to bed at night would be done by the light of a candle, which we carried upstairs with us. In many of the bedroom, the trees would be knocking on the windows. Often there was a howling gale.
But I digress again, as usual!
My Uncle, when a little boy, slept in a small bedroom off the main big bedroom. A huge horse chestnut tree constantly tapped on the window as if pleading for entry. THIS was where he saw the Beautiful Lady, all dressed in pink. She appeared at his bedside each night. He told my grandmother of this, and, rather than telling him not to be so stupid, she just allowed him to have his fancy. In time, he stopped talking about the Beautiful Lady.
In recent years my husband and I started doing research on this amazing farmhouse. We discovered that it used to be the Grange of a monastery. Inside the farmhouse would have orrigi nally been a Chapel. Lay brothers would have farmed the land.
Now of course you can guess where my imagination was and still is, going! Who WAS that Beautiful Lady? WAS it the Virgin Mary? Well, She was not ALWAYS dressed in blue, but HAS also been depicted dressed in pink.
My family is not Catholic, so my Uncle would not even have heard of the Virgin Mary, so he could not have conjured that up. But now, I am intrigued, and as I go to my Uncle’s grave, I talk to him, about the secret that was buried with him, and pray, too, that I can see the Beautiful Lady. Who KNOWS what might happen?