July 3rd, 2013

red-eyed goujun by _mrowr @ muffyface

The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery

I will meme tomorrow. Right now I've been eaten by The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery by Catherine Bailey.

In a nutshell, Bailey went to Belvoir Castle-- a huge pile that comes off sounding like Gormenghast-- to research the role of the local yeomanry and the family of the castle's owner, the Duke of Rutland, in the first world war. Belvoir's archive was reputed to be amazing. It contained not merely all documents relating to the castle's daily life and that of its tenant farmers-- expenditures, rentals, servants' wages, staff rolls, etc etc for centuries-- but half a millennium's worth of letters from that prodigious letter-writing family. These had been rescued from desks and drawers and wherever they'd been stuffed, put in order, and catalogued by the 9th Duke, John, who made the archives his life work-- and eventually, death work as well. He contracted pneumonia but refused to move from the damp, unheated, unadorned rooms in the servants' wing (floor, actually- the ground one) that lacked toilets or running water, either hot or cold. (In that respect, not really different from domestic arrangements when he was a child.) John died in 1940 on a couch amidst the boxes of his family's correspondence. His son had the rooms sealed after his death, and only in the grandson's time were they opened and a proper archivist hired. Bailey was one of the first to apply to use this mass of material.
Collapse )