Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Welcome to The Dower House, by Althea Twyst, Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth

The Dower House, home of Althea Twyst, Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth

How lovely of you to drop by. Come on in, please. Let’s not stand on ceremony. None of this “Your Grace” for me. Call me Althea. I know I’m the dowager duchess of Chellingworth, but I prefer it. Especially since you’re a friend of a friend. Welcome to the Dower House. So pleased you could come. Lindsey will bring tea into the morning room shortly, but why don’t I show you around in the meantime?

The Boar's Head Hotel, Carmarthen
My son Henry, the duke, tells me you’ve come from America. How terribly interesting. Henry’s older brother, Devereaux, caught the measles in America as an adult, and sadly passed away from the dreadful disease. That’s why Henry – who was never raised to take his father’s title – ended up where he is now. Poor lamb, I know he feels the weight of running such a large Estate fall heavily upon his shoulders. Such a responsibility being the eighteenth duke; he often says he feels as though all the previous seventeen dukes are looking down at him, willing him to retain the land and title the Twyst family has held since Henry VII bestowed it upon them back in the 1400’s.

But we’re not here to talk about Henry. We’re here for you to have a little taste of proper Welsh hospitality. I understand you've been staying at The Boar's Head in Carmarthen? Good, I'm glad you've been well-treated there. Ah, here’s Lindsey with the tea now. And some lovely Welshcakes, of course, and scones with Cook's delicious jam. Cook makes the jam herself, from the strawberries we grow in the walled garden which surrounds the Orangery, up at the Hall. One cannot have tea without some sweet treats to accompany it.

Me? I came here when I met Chelly. The seventeeth duke. He’d been widowed, you know, and with only one son to show for it. I was a dancer at the time, performing in a nice little show in the West End of London. He told me he fell for me across the footlights, and he was the love of my life. I bore him Henry and Clementine came along too. Henry? Yes, a good man. I'm pretty sure he had a sense of humor bypass right after I bore him, though - just doesn't seem to have a funny bone. Me? Oh yes, I'm full of them, me.

The Orangery, with gardens
What’s that? Oh yes, I’m very comfy here. Much cozier than the drafty old Hall itself. We have six thousand acres in all, but the Dower House has a much more manageable acre and a half. Just enough for a little garden. Oh no, I don’t do it myself. Young Ian does all that. Strapping lad he is now. See him out there? Oh my, I wonder why he always has to work with his shirt off. Yes, he’s very muscular for a man in his twenties, I dare say. Yes, quite suntanned. Poor thing, he seems to be a bit hot. I’ll ring for Lindsey to take him some lemonade – oh, there she is now. She must have noticed he could do with some refreshment. 

After tea? Oh I’ll be away to a nice barn we’ve converted on the Estate. I work with some friends who’ve set up their enquiries agency there. What sort of enquiries? The sort of thing people want looked into, usually discreetly. Yes, that sort of thing. Dead bodies? Not all the time, dear, that would be quite bothersome. We’ve had the police tramping all over the place quite enough in the past, thank you very much. We’re looking into the rather worrying case of a missing Morris Dancer at the moment. Morris Dancing? It’s an ancient, some say pagan, type of dancing they do about these parts of Wales – and all over England too. Henry’s to be married very soon, you see, and the Morris Dancers have to be there to accompany him and his bride from the church in the village of Anwen-by-Wye to the Hall – or the marriage might not be fertile. Do I believe in it? Well, it’s a tradition in these parts, so it’s best not to tempt fate, I’d say. 

Cathy Ace writes the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER was published in hardback in February and is available as an e-book, and book #1 THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER was published in trade paperback on March 1st). She also writes the Cait Morgan Mysteries (book #7 THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE was published in paperback in April). Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at   


  1. Always a pleasure to chat with the dowager duchess! Um...would it be rude to ask for another of those Welshcakes?

    1. But of course, Mr. Emerson - have as many as you like :-)

  2. Hello, Althea - thank you for the tour of your very lovely home, and for the delicious treats. Wishing the very best to Henry and his future duchess, and also good luck to you and the WISE ladies in locating the missing Morris Dancer! :-)

    1. You're most welcome, Nicole V. Does that mean you're Nicole the fifth, by the way? :-)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks you for dropping by, Kaye - as a friend of a good friend you're always more than welcome :-)