Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Green Knowe

In the Cambridgeshire village of Hemingford Grey sits The Manor, a leafy 12th century pile of unparalleled gorgeousness. It is said to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited homes in Britain but of more interest here is the life of Green Knowe, its fictional twin.

In a series of 6 children’s books, Lucy M. Boston, then owner of the manor, re-imagined her home as a cabinet of uncanny curiosities. Statues walk, phantom horses gobble sugar cubes and ghosts flit through the corridors. Hauntological themes abound, not least in the presence of a thick, muddy vein of paganism which sees tree spirits, alchemists and stone circles thrown into the mix.

The stories have been adapted twice: the first, ‘The Children of Green Knowe’, was televised by the BBC in 1986, while a version of the second book, ‘The Chimneys of Green Knowe’ (retitled ‘From Time To Time’) was adapted for ITV by ‘professional posh man’ Julian Fellowes in 2009. The first is - to my mind, at least - the more faithful adaptation, capturing the woozy autumnal atmosphere and magical warmth of these beguiling books. While no DVD is available, the whole thing's up on Youtube, stalking ground of the re-forgotten: a perfect way to ease through a rainy sunday afternoon.

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