A Personal Fairytale

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John Norden’s 1607 map of Windsor Forest. From The British Libary via http://www.europeana.eu

Just occasionally one is accorded a fairy tale.

Not a pretend one, but a real one.

Mine is a great 19th century mansion fitted out in dark wood. My story  begins with a desk by the window on the top floor, overlooking the vast lawns which stretch endlessly towards the forest.

At dawn and dusk the deer come to graze. In Summer the terraces are filled with gauzy princess dresses and brides who make it their home for the day. And in Winter the frost decorates the house and the surrounding forests in gleaming filigree.

My fairytale mansion is florid and imposing, and its predecessors have been there since the seventh century AD. I can glimpse the white stable block which is the last remaining sign of a past which reaches back to King Cynegils of Wessex who lived on this land in the seventh century. The place in my fairytale sits in the Domesday Book as property of Westminster Abbey, a place of 14 households, with five ploughing teams and woodland full of swine.

A hunting lodge for kings with an impressive role of visitors, the old moated house – now replaced with its Victorian incarnation – is the place where Henry VII rode out with his son Arthur to meet his bride, Catherine of Aragon; and where Henry VIII first danced with his wife to be.

Held by a powerful dynasty, the lodge was a regular haunt of the young Alexander Pope.And with the advent of Ascot and the racing, it was a hub of activity during Ascot week every year.

This old place has a great long straight drive which seems to go on forever, slicing through the fields to the monumental front entrance. It spices up the drive to work. As a colleague said: “I feel like Jane Eyre coming to work.”

The place has something of Mr Rochester about it. Stern, masculine.

But there is no mad wife in the attic.

No. Instead, there is me.

Me, and an entire efficient – and engagingly friendly – department. Don’t get me wrong. The attic rooms are well used and lit with gracious skylights.

And like all decent old houses it has its ghost. A white-haired lady bustling and rustling about the place who has no feet because the floors were once lower than they are now. She is glimpsed here and there, out of the corner of an eye, and whilst most say she is a previous lady of the house, I am not sure, for what would she be doing in the servant’s space?

I hope never to be in a position to verify the matter further.

My fairytale has only a few brief lines written. It is at its inception.

Life is transforming as I write. The old life is not over yet, the new one barely begun. And the beginning is always a honeymoon period, is it not?

But today, whatever transpires, I toast the fairytale no Grimm brother has penned. A small, private, very moderate fairytale all my own.


48 thoughts on “A Personal Fairytale

  1. Red blurs mark the sky as a hail of arrows tipped in fire rain down like waves of an ocean smashing into sand. The sound of horses can heard on the chilling morning wind while the clank of shields echoes from all sides, and atop the grassy knoll stands r3v, ready to take this beautiful house and make it, his own!

    Haha! Great story, as you can tell I very much enjoyed it 🙂

    1. It is quite novel for me, Tilly. Schools are places you have to steel yourself. Running into work:I haven’t done that sonce I worked at the haunted house across the fields.

  2. A fairy tale mansion with a ghost to keep all in check, deer and princess, brides and kings and . . . see? You already have lured me into your fairy tale, Kate. More. i want more.

    1. It is just the right amount of time to leave me free to be there for Maddie and Felix at the beginning and end of school, with a fabulous challenge in the intervening hours, Nancy. Absorbing, but leaving my mind free for the hours I am not contracted to work. Which is how I feel it should be.

  3. I think this is an evolving story and I don’t completely know where the changes in your life have occurred, but this is indeed exciting. It sounds tailor-made for someone with such an incredible grasp of history, curiosity about the “spirits of the past” and creative imagination! Breathe it in! And share… 🙂

    1. It is exciting, Debra. I shall not be teaching, but carrying out a project with a high degree of autonomy and independence in the setting I have described. I feel blessed.

    2. Dear Kate, I’m in great agreement with Debra of “Three Well Beings.” I’m able to get to your blog only about once a week and so I miss the on-going story. But this latest posting has me wondering just what will come of this new job.

      I also second these words Debra used when she said that you were “someone with such an incredible grasp of history, curiosity about the ‘spirits of the past’ and creative imagination!” That perfectly describes you, Kate. Peace.

  4. oh, to imagine a story that you create in your own little world inside your head. What stories we can tell. Funny, I just wrote one myself on my latest blog entry. I conjured a tad of a story from an old trunk. 🙂 Life would be boring without our minds creation, no?

  5. Your mansion sounds a little like my Mansion, Kate… only you have deer where I have zombies and vampires and the like! We both have our ghosts though, which is, in an odd way – a good odd way – fascinatingly interesting. Here’s to your fairy tale!

  6. It’s splendid and maybe a bit humbling to be able to live or work in a spot that has more than its fair share of historical associations: living in the Preselis, with its wealth of prehistoric monuments and Arthurian associations, is just such a place for me.

    And how brilliant to be somewhere where the young Prince Arthur rode out to marry Catherine; how different would history have been if he had survived to become a real King Arthur! One of the real what-ifs of history.

  7. How wonderful to have your workplace inspire thoughts of fairytales, Kate. I gave up working for myself at the beginning of this year (after 10 years) and am back in full-time employment in a ghastly engineering-institutional space. I envy your inspirational environment.

  8. So, I’m trying to discern the true meaning here. I love the context and that you’ll be inventing a story – is it haunted? Are you constructing the tale or is this a larger story of a new direction for you? So excited to hear!

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