Inspiration for a Setting: Westwood Manor
How the work of photographer Corin Spinks inspired a setting for the Wyrde Woods novels.
The fictional Westwood Manor lies in the north-west corner of the Wyrde Woods, in the middle of a former deer park abandoned to the wilderness. To its south is the village of Wolfden, to its east the hamlet of Mordrove.
From the outside it resembles a building in St Leonards shown to me by Jack Bryer, local author. The inside of the manor is in various states; from dusty abandonment to advanced deterioration. Assembling photographs taken at different locations by Corin Spinks and accrediting them all to the fictive Westwood Manor was all the work it took to have a detailed setting to play in. To my mind it resembles a whole, even though the actual locations are scattered throughout Britain.
THE DEER PARK
No longer maintained this forested area is rapidly reverting to natural wilderness. It is only in the centre, around the manor, that traces of former glory begin to show in the former gardens surrounding the manor house.
The main entry in the centre of the manor house is still largely intact, though the hall is hollow and lifeless now the main staircase to the first floor is still acessible.
The east stairs: a simple affair and used mainly by the servants to move between the working areas in the cellars, the main kitchens as well as being their designated first floor access. The west stairs: more grand, connecting the main day areas on the ground floor of the west wing with the sleeping quarters on the first floor.
At the east end of the manor the cellars were used for various purposes by the servants and converted as such. Towards the centre of the house the cellars were used as storerooms whilst the cellars belonging to the oldest part of the manor, the west wing, were generally left unused.
The attic is subdivided into various sections. Still reasonably intact on the west wing but in state of advanced deterioration on the other side.
Various corridors connecting the rooms on the ground floor and the first floor as well as the east wing, centre and west wing.
Apart from the large dining room most of the east wing consisted of servant's quarters, namely the large kitchen areas.
WEST WING GROUND FLOOR
The west wing, the oldest part of the building and its medieval roots show here and there, was the main day area for the resident family.
WEST WING FIRST FLOOR
It is here where the bedrooms of the residential family were situated, some with original features, all in state of decay.
SOME WYRDE WOODS GEOGRAPHY
Escape from Neverland and Dance into the Wyrd introduced the Wyrde Woods to the small tribe of readers who have eagerly requested more Wyrde Woods. The story focused on the southern woods and middle woods. In the south there are three hills, water meadows, a ruined priory, a haunted church and a bridge by a chestnut tree as well as a hilltop crowned by giant redwoods. The middle features a great many more features, it is here that the Wyrde Woods are at their widest point. Forgotten Road focuses mostly on that middle area and introduced a new feature called Shims Copses, a long haunted boundary between the Wyrde Woods and the more populated western edgelands, running north from the Twin Hills to curl eastwards in a shroud around the sacred Whychwood and the secret concealed therein.
Forgotten Road has a few scenes where the northern part of the Wyrde Woods are brushed as well as some references but in new books it is time to drift further north and explore that part of the woods in more detail. The hamlet of Mordrove has been mentioned. Mordrove lies at the centre of the northern Wyrde Woods. There is an estate to the north west of Mordrove, a former deer park reclaimed by the wilderness which surrounds a location mentioned once or twice: Westwood Manor.
To the north east of Mordrove lies a long ridge which I have yet to give a name. It marks the northern boundary of the woods and is topped by something called Fool’s Folly. This is actually more or less Ham Hill in Somerset which I have magically placed in Sussex for my convenience. Fool’s Folly is the latest and last ‘neolithic’ remnant in the Wyrde Woods (the others are the Blood Stone, The Cross Stone, The Guardians and the Shy Maidens). Both Fool’s Folly and Westwood Manor will be visited in the currently planned continuation of the Secrets of the Wyrde Woods series. Mention has also been made of another feature in the Wyrde Woods, an evil place, called Devil’s Bottom. As of yet I have no idea what this is or where I will place it. It’s in strategical reserve, as it were.
Both West Wood Manor and Fool’s Folly will become central locations in other books. The latter will feature in the earliest planned Wyrde Woods book (1900). Westwood Manor will feature in Shim’s Whispers.
THE WYRDE WOODS BOOKS (so far)
The links are to kindle, but all are available as paperbacks as well