A courtyard in an ancient castle: heavy
English drizzle falling from leaden sky;
soaked ground releasing scents of leaf mould and
rotting wood. The only sounds: mournful
birdsong and rhythmic dripping of accumulated
rainwater from ivy-strangled ruins onto thick
undergrowth, and my umbrella.
I am alone.
No other fool would would be tempted to stray this
far from the beaten track on a day like today;
and certainly not just to wander among these
crumbling walls, where time's relentless assault
on all things physical is so depressingly
I have to confess, the strange brooding
atmosphere of this lonely and isolated place almost
put me off too. But I desperately needed
time out from life's many complications, a
chance to recharge my batteries and recover
some emotional equilibrium; and this seemed
the ideal location.
The birds just stopped singing.
The ensuing silence feels unnatural - and crowded.
Turning a corner of the Seymour Manor, the entire
left side of my body is plunged into icy coldness
as I'm passed by a tiny, slender figure, no
taller than I am. Her features are obscured by
the hood of a deep azure cloak that reaches
to the ground.
A few metres ahead she halts abruptly, turns,
and retraces her steps, approaching me in
My heart pounding, I break out in goosebumps.
She's standing right in front of me now, and
staring straight into my eyes. Never before
have I seen such anguish and utter hopelessness
contort so young a face.
'My baby! My baby!'
She's crying, her tears mingling with this
miserable endless rain. Her anxiety affects
me deeply and I long to reach out to her,
to offer what comfort I can. But she darts
away, still whimpering; her movements
becoming rapid and jerky now, like an old
Something impels me to follow her as she
ascends well-worn stone steps, then hurries along
the rampart walk to it's far end. She pauses
here, and still sobbing, begins wringing her
hands; her deeply troubled eyes darting back and
forth. I have the distinct impression that she's
trying to escape from someone (or something)
that terrifies her.
To her right, a flight of steps spirals down
into the gloom of a dungeon beneath St.
Margaret's Tower; and for a moment she
hesitates, seems about to descend them.
But instead, she turns and begins climbing
the remains of another staircase to her left.
These steps, having fallen away, come to
an abrupt end just above the level of my
head; but she continues to climb stairs no
It's incredibly surreal - like I'm caught up in
an absurd dream that I'm unable to awake
Near the top of the curtain wall, she ceases
climbing and crosses the floor of a room that has
long since vanished. However, it's fireplace,
complete with chimney, still remains in the
now sheer wall; and on reaching it, she
throws herself down onto thin air and
begins clawing at the space where the hearth
would have once been.
It is the weirdest spectacle!
She is totally defying gravity - is suspended
some twenty metres above the ground.
As I watch, she dissolves into a blue-grey
mist that disappears up the chimney.
A powerful sensation of falling hits me. My
head spinning, I grip a stone jutting out
from the wall in order to steady myself.
(Not a good idea for a sensitive like me!)
I'm witnessing it all simultaneously:
the frequent incestuous rape of this
thirteen-year-old girl by her father;
the unbearable isolation of seven
months' incarceration in an upper chamber;
a newborn baby girl, smothered, then
incinerated in the fire while the distraught
mother's screams are lost in the joyful
sounds of a grand banquet being held downstairs;
and finally, the tragic suicide of a young girl
so cruelly wronged.
Sickened by all I've just witnessed, my
immediate impulse is to escape from this
unholy sepulchre and put as much distance
between it and myself as I possibly can.
But as I leave, I make a solemn pledge
that as soon as I feel mentally and spiritually
strong enough, I will return here and try my
utmost to help this unhappy trapped Soul
move on into the Light.
As I pass the ticket office on my way out, I
catch sight of the custodian.
He's lounging there in his comfortable chair,
reading a newspaper and sipping a steaming
cup of tea or coffee.
Everything looks so deceptively normal, as
though nothing untoward has ever happened
And I can almost convince myself that my
imagination has been running in overdrive;
that this place is tranquil...