The county town of Warwick is famous for its magnificent castle rising above the River Avon but there is much more to this historic town. Although many medieval houses were destroyed by the Great Fire of 1694, buildings from an earlier age can still be found, including its oldest hostelry, The Roebuck, and Lord Leycester Hospital. Local historic characters include Warwick the Kingmaker, world champion boxer Randolph Turpin and socialite and campaigner Daisy, Countess of Warwick, as well as the ichthyosaur in the Market Hall Museum, and the town’s many events include a Victorian evening and annual folk festival.A–Z of Warwick reveals the history behind the town, its streets and buildings, businesses and the people connected with it. Alongside the famous historical connections are unusual characters, tucked-away places and unique events that are less well known. Fully illustrated throughout, this book will appeal to all those with an interest in this historic Warwickshire town.
Thank you to the author S C Skillman and her publisher for sending me an ARC of A- Z of Warwick.
This alphabetical compendium of Warwick is beautifully illustrated with photographs and each alphabetical letter details a topic and begins with a appropriate quote from literature. Letter A Actors at Playbox Theatre begins with a quote from Midsummer night’s Dream.
I was interested to learn that this theatre is the ‘UK’s first purpose-built and designed theatre for young people.’
Thereafter there continues, details on Mediaeval Bridges, Gardens, Period properties: the County Mental Hospital, Historic court house, Dungeon at The County Gaol, East Gate, Eagles at Warwich Castle, Folk Festival…, the Great Fire of Warwick, etc, and the people of Warwick.
I particularly enjoyed the sections on gardens, (Hill Close Gardens, Master’s Garden, Mill Garden,) wildlife haven of Kingfisher Pool, Fossils, (200 million year old Ichthyosaur, and Oisin, the Irish Giant Deer,) Incarcerations: Thomas Beauchamp ‘was fighting in the war in France; his exploits there earned him the nickname ‘the devil Warwick,’ the statue and detail about Randolph Turpin ‘commemorating Britain’s first black world champion professional boxer,’ Warwick a Singing Town and the detail about the Playbox Theatre.
There are many historical details about Warwick people and its history, so highly recommended for history buffs.
There is much to be gained from reading and enjoying A – Z of Warwick for people who both live in Warwick and for those outside the area who would like to discover more about it. The author S C Skillman must have done a huge amount of research to create this excellent and interesting resource.
S. C. Skillman is a writer of psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction, who has lived in Warwickshire for over twenty years. She has also an interest in the local history of her area and the neighbouring counties.
Thank you very much, Marje, for offering me this space on your blog to introduce my book Paranormal Warwickshire to your readers.
It is my pleasure Sheila.
Warwickshire is a county steeped in the supernatural, as befits the county of Shakespeare and the many ghosts and spirits that he conjured up in his works.
The towns and villages of Warwickshire, its castles, houses, churches, theatres, inns and many other places both grand and everyday have rich and complex stories to tell of paranormal presences.
In this book I investigate stories at places such as Guy’s Cliffe, the Saxon Mill, Warwick Castle and St Mary’s Church, Warwick; Kenilworth Castle and Stoneleigh Abbey; Nash’s House and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as in the towns of Rugby, Nuneaton and Leamington Spa.
I explore the spiritual resonance of each location, recounting the tales of paranormal activity associated with it and examining the reasons for this within the history of the place.
What inspired me to write about this subject? I’ve lived in Warwickshire for twenty-four years, at the time of writing. Though born in south-east England, I have, since coming here, grown to love and feel a deep connection with some of this county’s most iconic locations: castles, houses, abbeys and churches; and also some of its less familiar ones.
I began by frequently visiting these places, and then I wrote blog posts about them in my occasional series Places of Inspiration. Ultimately I was to draw those posts together into a book.
As a writer of psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction, I’m very interested in strong atmospheres in old houses. There’s a vast difference between a house which leaves you cold, and a house with a rich atmosphere. That seemed to lead me on naturally to paranormal events, though I’ll admit that I didn’t focus upon them until history publisher Amberley had expressed interest in my proposal and said they wanted it to fit into their paranormal series.
Amongst the places I write about, we may find Guy’s Cliffe House in Warwick, an atmospheric ruined gothic mansion near my home. As I say in my book,
Many stories linger within these ruins. As you wander around you may wish to climb the gaping staircases, or stand on one of the stone balconies and gaze at the view cross the river and over the surrounding fields; or imagine you see a shadowy figure flit past an empty window-frame.
In this, and so many other historical sites, I feel a distinct spiritual resonance; and that is why I’m drawn back to them again and again.
When I began to put my book together, it occurred to me that since this is Shakespeare’s county, and several of the locations have close personal connections with the Bard, it would be a good idea to base the book around the theme of Shakespeare’s ghosts and spirits. I hope you agree that the words of Shakespeare with which I have chosen to open every chapter in this book, capture the very essence of what these special places signify to us today.
One of my favourite quotes is this, from the mouth of Prospero the magician, in The Tempest:
These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into this air. And like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on; and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.
I love Prospero’s relationship with his servant, Ariel, whom he addresses as my tricksy spirit. Ariel obeys his master’s every command, until such time as the magician chooses to set him free to the elements.
And how I love Puck, that shrewd and knavish sprite who does Oberon’s bidding in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. One of my favourite speeches is the one he chooses to end the play with:
If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here whilst these visions did appear…
No-one can be quite sure whether Shakespeare believed in ghosts and spirits, or used them purely as dramatic devices. One thing’s for sure; they make frequent appearances in his plays. It’s known that he himself played the spirit of Hamlet’s father, many times, and it was the top of his performance as an actor, according to his first biographer.
I’ve heard opposite points of view on Shakespeare’s own beliefs from an Oxford professor and from a Shakespearean actor leading the Stratford-upon-Avon town ghost tour. But Shakespeare’s ghosts and spirts certainly inspired me as I was writing my book!
To us now, entering these places as curious visitors separated from their living inhabitants sometimes by centuries, those long-gone people have all melted into air and are insubstantial, but have left an imprint of their lives in the very fabric of the buildings.
Paranormal Warwickshire will be published on 15 th November 2020 hope you will enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoyed researching them!
It has been a pleasure hosting you on my blog Sheila. I have always been fascinated by the paranormal and this collection is one to treasure. Thank you so much with entrusting me with an advanced readers copy to review.
I have always been fascinated by the paranormal and have had a far few ghostly and strange experiences myself, so this book by S. C. Skillman caught and kept my attention throughout.
It’s a well-researched, detailed and beautifully photographed book. Some of the images within are by S.C. Skillman herself.
If you like tales of haunted castles, churches, theatres, hotels, manor houses and many more locations beside, (a ghost can hang out anywhere they feel drawn to,) this is for you!
The collection begins in Warwick and moves on to various locations in Warwickshire: Kenilworth, Stratford-upon-Avon, Lapworth, Alcester, Rugby, Nuneaton (Birthplace of George Eliot,) and Leamington Spa.
Some of my favourite tales within included ghostly tales from theatres: in Stratford-upon-Avon, Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The ‘grey lady’ ‘is thought by by many to be the spirit of Elisabeth Scott, and is one of the theatre’s most well-known ghosts.’ ‘She appears so real she is often mistaken for a lost theatregoer.’ ‘It seems that many who have loved this theatre in their lifetimes cannot turn away from this magical and evocative place.’
And in Rugby Theatre: ‘One of the stories told here is of a woman seen floating down the stairs. It is thought she was an usherette in former times…’
It’s an interesting collection and one that will encourage you to explore the paranormal. After reading, you will want to visit these locations first hand to see if you experience the haunting visitations described within. Who knows, you might even want to become a paranormal investigator!
Sheila lives in Warwickshire, and writes psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers.
She began her publishing journey with a duology of novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit. This was followed by a non-fiction book Perilous Path: a writer’s journey. Sheila is currently working on the second novel in a new gothic fiction series.
Sheila was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and studied English Literature at Lancaster University. Her first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later she lived for nearly five years in Australia before returning to the UK.
She has now settled in Warwick with her husband and son, and her daughter is studying at university in Australia.
I really wanted to join in this challenge this month as I am doing a spooky stuff and nonsense theme on my blog leading up to Halloween. By the way, today, Monday the 26th of October is the last day to submit your photos to Ed. So if you want to join in get cracking, and email him, super pronto!!!
I was originally going to take one of those Ghost tours in Cambridge, which I still fancy doing, but then it struck me the perfect idea to post about for this Spooktacular would be the history behind the Caxton Gibbett Inn in Cambridgeshire, particularly as it features briefly in my manuscript! This place is or shall I say was about as creepy, and unlucky, cursed if you ask me, as it gets.
The inn was located between Cambridge and St. Neots. It is no longer standing as it burnt down in mysterious circumstances, in March 2009, when it had been trading as a Chinese restaurant, The Yim Wah House. In fact I had been there a few times for meals, as I have some friends who live out that way so I’m so glad it didn’t burn down when I was in there munching my spring rolls! Apparently fifty firefighters had their job cut out trying to stop the blaze. Anyway the Yim Wah has now relocated, I don’t blame them! Would you want to stay in residence there after that? Shudders. No brainer. The Yim Wah is now situated in the centre of Cambridge, good move!
The legend of the original inn is interesting Halloween fare. Apparently three travellers were murdered by the landlord, (who intended to steal from them.) He disposed of their poor unfortunate bodies down the pub’s well. The original gallows stood on Caxton Common, the replica gibbet was thought to have been made from the timber of a nearby cottage.
Punishment was a very public affair in those days, the murderer was hung alive in an iron gibbet from the gallows and death under these circumstances followed due to starvation, dehydration or exposure. Apparently thereafter the inn was haunted by mysterious footsteps that stopped at the well! Creepy , Ghoulish stuff or what? !! Enough to make you choke on your spring roll! Sounds like that land may be cursed, and it is now the home of fast food restaurants. Well, on the bright side at least with fast food you’re in and out quick, surely nothing too terrible can happen to you in such a short timescale! My advice is don’t hang about and chat too much, get out of their fast!
So not exactly good joss. Perhaps not history as such, maybe more of a legend, but it does seem to me to be an area of Cambridgeshire with a creepy predisposition, and a gallows, so beware!
The story of the inn captured my interest so much that it features briefly in my manuscript Krystallos.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Amelina spoke in a hushed spooky whisper. “Talking of ghost stories did you see that Chinese restaurant that burnt down at Caxton Gibbett? Its burnt out shell creeps me out every time I go pass it, the original inn on that site, also burnt down in the 1920’s.”
“The George Inn, yes, bit of a weird coincidence isn’t it?” said Ilaria her voice rising with excitement.
“The place was cursed. The landlord was hanged and gibbeted for murdering his guests as they slept. The room where they were killed was always intensely cold,” said Amelina, as a cold shiver ran down her spine.
“God that’s creepy, talk about gruesome,” said Joselyn, “Thanks, I’ll not sleep a wink tonight.”
“Me neither. Maybe when we’re wide awake some fit dead guy could return from his eternal slumber for a chat. Hopefully a famous rock or pop star,” joked Ilaria.
“Now that would be cool. You know I had this amazing dream once that all the rock stars came bursting out of my posters and had a party in my house. It was a bit freaky as some of them were dead. They were rocking out until the early hours,” said Amelina as she demonstrated her favourite rock hero pose playing air guitar to the girls.
Ilaria, Joselyn and Jade looked at Amelina with wide eyed astonishment.
“God you’re crazy, Amelina, I can’t believe the things you say or do. The air guitar was awesome,” remarked Jade.
Hope you enjoyed my Spooktacular post, I enjoyed taking part, I’ve been planning this for ages, this baby has been waiting part finished in my draft folder and I nearly forgot to join in, that’s just typical of me. Scatty, or Loopy depends on how you take me!
Anne Frank’s diaries have always been among the most moving and eloquent documents of the Holocaust. This new edition restores diary entries omitted from the original edition, revealing a new depth to Anne’s dreams, irritations, hardships, and passions. Anne emerges as more real, more human, and more vital than ever. If you’ve never read this remarkable autobiography, do so. If you have read it, you owe it to yourself to read it again.
Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was a German-born Jewish girl from the city of Frankfurt, who wrote a diary while in hiding with her family and four friends in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
She lived in Amsterdam with her parents and sister. During the Holocaust, Anne and her family hid in the attic of her father’s office to escape the Nazis. It was during that time period that she had recorded her life in her diary.
My first impressions of the diary. It surprised me. Anne Frank’s strength of personality, humour, and compassion, are deeply engrained into her moving words in The Diary of A Young Girl. In many ways she is a typical teenager discovering who she is. I was saddened by her poor relationship with her mother. She experiences so many emotions and irritations, magnified in intensity due to the close nature, and length of time spent together hiding in the Annexe in Amsterdam. These petty quarrels become even more evident as time progresses. It is hard to imagine how it would be possible to have even fleeting moments of happiness after being shut away from the world for such a long period of time, under such difficult and dangerous circumstances, but Anne manages to do this and so much more besides. The enforced captivity of the Annexe allows her time to reflect on her shortcomings and she becomes more and more aware of her own faults and self limitations. Locked away in this alien environment, she grows up and her diary grows and blossoms with her.
There is a mounting sense of her frustrations, her fears for the future, guilt at hiding away, and above all else her deep passion for life. Her love of nature, writing and books comes across so vividly. In photographs Anne looks fragile, yet I think this young lady was anything but, from her words alone I get a sense of her strength of character. I was amused by her developing relationship with Peter, who is several years older than her. In effect she bypasses her older sister Margo and manages to steal Peter’s affections right from under Margo’s nose. Feisty indeed! Sadly Anne died just before the liberation, as did all of the other Annexe hideaways apart from Otto, her father. Her diary is so poignant because of the terrible, inevitable outcome. In light of this I found some of the passages in the diary very difficult to read, yet I kept on returning to her diary as I sensed that I would be doing Anne’s memory a terrible disservice if I didn’t read it all. I found the final few words of the diary very sad indeed, her words became lighter, little glimmers of hope that sadly did not match the reality of her final days.
I shed some tears, wept for this promising teenager whose life was cut short in such a cruel way, robbed of her chance to live a full and enriching life. I can’t help but feel that Anne Frank would have had such a promising future if she had lived. I have no doubt that she would have become a writer. Moreover, some of the passages in the diary reminded me of my teenage self. I too kept a diary, but my diary was free to roam whereas Anne’s was constrained by her circumstances. I was so lucky, so blessed. In my diary I wrote about so many things that poor Anne never had the opportunity to see or experience. My father worked abroad and I kept a diary of our travels visiting him in diverse regions of the world, the Caribbean British Virgin Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, are a few that spring to mind. I don’t know what became of my diary, (I was the same age as Anne), it may be up in my parents’ house in Edinburgh. I hope one day I will find it. I feel so careless to have lost it. My teenage diary was a feeble affair in comparison to Anne’s. It makes me wonder whether we write best when we are challenged, when life isn’t easy. Do we need to experience suffering to write? It is an interesting question. I sense that we do to some extent, but not in the way that Anne did. Nobody should have to suffer like that.
Each of us should have a fundamental human right. A right to freedom, the right of every human being to live without fear of being judged or hated for the colour of their skin, their religion, their cultural heritage, or sexual orientation. A diary should be a personal affair, not read, and discussed by a stranger. But in Anne’s case I am sure that her father Otto did the right thing in making Anne’s words available to all. I feel sure that Anne would be happy to know that her diary is being read, that a little piece of her lives on, albeit an edited version of her true words. She longed to be a writer and in this she has succeeded. Her words are without doubt a snap shot in time, a representation of all the hopes and fears of all of those who suffered and died in the Holocaust.
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