Horton Hall. Haunted House.

Horton Hall. Staffordshire. Original house constructed in  the C12th and rebuilt in  1653.
Horton Hall. Staffordshire. Original house constructed in the C12th and rebuilt in 1653.

Every time I pass this bristling house I am drawn upwards to the stone mullioned windows of the old attics. When I arrived in the village, 12 short years ago, I was told by a long time resident of Horton parish that those empty attic windows would sometimes frame a pale face, an expressionless gaze and all that was left of a young woman with long, dark hair, caught in stasis as the centuries passed.

The season’s circle. The huge copper beech in its walled gardens canopies the narrow lane I run along, as the days shorten it sheds its leaves beneath my smiling sheepdog’s feet, and by the time our breath has turned to clouds, the tree is skeletal and the house remains, bristling. Time doesn’t touch it. And like the face at the window, I am still watching.

My novel has a lost girl gazing from an attic window and a woman who waits. Their home is caught in black and white, too; old and vast and empty, and as I passed the Hall’s ancient walls this evening, the two houses blurred. One bringing the other back to life.

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