Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Duke, a Bell and a Cathy Ace

New-fangled bell-push

Meet Henry Devereaux Twyst, eighteenth duke of Chellingworth.

Welcome to my home, Chellingworth Hall. It’s kind of you to visit. Let me ring for some tea. It won’t take long. This bell? Ah yes, a new-fangled device in its day, this was installed by the sixteenth duke after the The Great War. I’m sorry to say the button itself is made of ivory, something that would not happen today, of course. Where does it ring, you ask? Downstairs in a hallway which connects all the rooms below-stairs…so the bells can be heard by all. There are connecting wires and thingumabobs which mean the right bell rings to tell them which room they need to come to, then Edward will arrive and ask what I require and he’ll go off to sort it out. Edward? Wonderful butler, been here my whole life because his father was my father’s butler. Nice to keep it all in the family, you know. Tradition and continuity are even more important in the world today where everything seems to change so quickly, don’t you think?
A clever system

There, that didn’t take long at all, did it? Tea will be with us before we know it. 

So, you were asking about the old place. The construction of the original Hall was begun back in the fifteenth century and “finished” in the eighteenth, with additions made in the nineteenth…though the truth is that there’s always building work going on here; there certainly has been for my entire lifetime. Most people don’t seem to understand that about what they call “Stately Homes” – one always has builders underfoot. It’s a part of my reality, I’m sorry to say. You see, the place looks all well and good, on the outside, but there’s dry rot, rising damp, flaking plaster ceilings, roof tiles that have seen better days and all sorts of things that require an investment of such extraordinary proportions that one has had to open one’s doors to the public. They've even got us fitting things like smoke detectors and suchlike now, and that's only because the public comes here, so there's even a cost involved with opening one's doors at all!
Newly installed smoke detector - in priceless plaster ceiling

We’ve managed to avoid the ultimate horror of accepting PGs (that’s Paying Guests, in case you don’t know) a situation which tells all and sundry that one is flopping about at the bottom of a particularly empty barrel; it’s a fate that’s been visited upon some some I know, and I do not envy them one iota. It’s bad enough that my wife and I have to scamper off to various outposts of the estate to avoid the hoards for several hours a day across a number of months, let alone having them actually spending the night under one’s roof…albeit a rather leaky one.  

Yes, this bit of roof leaked until last week!
When I refer to the hoards I don’t include you in that description, of course, you’re an honored guest. I’m always delighted to have someone come to visit who’s interested in the books we have in our library. And here they are – delightful, aren’t they? Have I read them all? Well, no – one would need more than one lifetime to achieve such a goal, I’d have thought. But these bibles, these are our pride and joy. This one, The Chellingworth Bible, is even older than the Hall itself, and dates back to the late 1300s or early 1400s. Just look at it – written and illuminated by hand when Geoffrey Chaucer himself was walking on this earth, and written in a form of the English language he would have understood. Designed to help explain biblical tales to the illiterate peasants. Just let me pop on a pair of these gloves – yes, you too, please – and we can have look at the magnificent illustrations…oh my word! Oh no! What’s all this water on the shelf? Good grief – what’s happened here? Just a moment, let me call for Edward again – no, no, please don’t touch – this might be a disaster…that book’s been here for almost six hundred years and now it’s…oh dear me….

From The Holkham Bible - similar to the Chellingworth Bible

Find out how Henry inviting book restorer Bryn Jenkins, who also runs the "Crooks and Cooks" book shop in Hay-on-Wye, to work on the damaged bible ends up leading to THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS COOK. The ladies of the WISE Enquiries Agency are called in to investigate some "strange shenanigans" at the book shop by Bryn and, as they try to unravel this puzzle from their base at stately Chellingworth Hall, they then get embroiled in another when they come across a valuable book of miniatures which seems to be the work of a local famous artist, murdered by her own brother. Are the cases linked and why do both mysteries lead to a nearby old folks’ home? The WISE women are on the case – and nothing will get in their way . . . Or will it?


  1. I have read this book, and it is a really good mystery and a fun read.

    1. Hello Annette, I'm so pleased you enjoyed the book. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and say so - it means a great deal :-)

  2. I enjoyed Henry's tour of Chellingworth Hall -- it looks like there is going to be more going on that the restoration of the Chellingworth Bible, and I can't wait to read about it!

    1. Ha! Oh yes, Celia, a lot more will happen than a simple restoration :-)

  3. Replies
    1. So pleased you do, and thanks for stopping by to say so :-)