In June, I was lucky enough to have a week’s holiday in Devon with my husband and so was finally able to pay a long-awaited visit to Buckland House – the beautiful setting for The Last Treasure of Ancient England. My co-author had described the house to me in accurate detail and I had researched it extensively for the book, so as we made our way up the sweeping driveway I felt as if I was returning to a familiar place. As excited as a child at Christmas I followed in Chester Bentley’s footsteps, over the worn threshold and into the hallway. Then up the red carpeted staircase to Byranston dorm which still bears the name above the door although the house is now rented out for private events.
The house in our story is set in three eras and as it is decorated and furnished today is close to how it would have been in our 1930’s storyline. As I stood in the bedroom which once belonged to the lady of the manor and spotted the dressing table and mirror in front of the window I stood rooted to the spot in amazement – the dressing table and its position were exactly as I had imagined.
Accompanying us on our visit were ex-pupil Amanda Ruston-Williams and her husband Richard Williams who is the ex-headmaster’s son. They brought the house to life for us with their memories. After exploring inside we headed out into the grounds. Amanda recalled hours building dens and wandering about with a freedom which I doubt can be equalled today. As we approached the lake I felt quite emotional as it is the setting for one of the major scenes in the book.
It was a magical experience and I am very grateful to Tammy Nicholson for allowing us to visit Buckland House. I would also like to thank Amanda and Richard for sharing their memories with us.