This post was written by Martha, aged 12, who entered our Young Persons’ Writing Competition 2019.
How a visit to (National Trust) Stoneywell, a rare,
surviving arts-and-crafts home hidden in Ulverscroft, Leicestershire, with a
mysterious link with Arthur Ransome, writer of Swallows and Amazons
and eleven related tales written for children and older Peter Pans, ended
in lashings of chocolate, I will never quite understand, but if you were there
on this occasion, particularly as a member of TARS, The Arthur Ransome Society, you’ll be
able to unpick the day’s events from memory.
To arrive by car but then be taken by v.i.p. minibus
to our destination (provided by the National Trust), as a second group of
intrepid explorers, was the beginning of a novel day.
I won’t tell you much about the tour of the house,
because you might make your own visit; however what I will tell you is that we
had a ‘pest quest’ – a tour explaining how to protect your house from
insects that can cause damage, like silverfish, woolly bears (2-spotted
carpet beetle larvae, we discovered one!) and death-watch beetles!
The maze-like house, from the pantry below the kitchen
to “Mount Olympus”, a lofty room, had 7 floor levels and uncountable windows,
some unusually – shaped and triangular, which I found very interesting when
looking through to the landscaped gardens. The window shelves also held quirky
and curious objects including a huge enamel jug and a chest with acorn carvings
designed in it (which led to becoming an inspiration for the National Trust
logo, I discovered!). It was filled with
Gemson family belongings and furniture, including working train sets and a full
set of Arthur Ransome books on a shelf in one of the many bedrooms. I had fun meandering
up and down spiral stair cases and a hidden window seat set almost behind a
fire place in the sitting room was a joy to sit in! I’ve now told you about the
house! but see for yourself – there’s much more! The gardens are as rambling as
the house, with a fort on top of a hill, wooded glades filled with golden
(chocolate) treasure – if you looked hard enough – and you can picnic anywhere,
and we did! I even found a sort of knicker-bocker-breaker-slide which we
climbed up instead of down (you would need to read Swallowdale by
Ransome to understand this phrase). The chocolate hunt was definitely welcome,
especially at the end of the day as we all received the well-needed energy
after exploring the sprawling gardens and Stoneywell woods on a clue-led-treasure-hunt
past tennis courts and old forts!
The memories will last longer than the chocolate! How do you recover from an adventure like
that? Prepare for the next!
The visit was with a society called The Arthur Ransome
Society (Tars) of which I am a well – travelled member. I have been up the
Old-Man-of-Coniston on a wild and windy day pass Goat Tarn and up several other
peaks. I have sailed, canoed and rowed and have had a lot of exciting sailing
experience and have been taught a lot about it and especially the older – types
I enjoyed my visit to Stoneywell, the arts and crafts
quirkiness and curious, mysterious and peculiar objects, nooks and crannies windows
and toys all fitted into one stone-house with an angled chimney!
About the Author
Martha Iris Blue, 12 years old.
Entrant- The Tourist Trail Young Persons’ Writing Competition 2019
“I am 12 years old and enjoy writing poetry and have won the Ted Hughes Elmet Poetry Competition, the Writing East Midlands Solstice Prize and the Write Out Loud Milestones Competition. I enjoy sailing, rowing and kayaking and love reading and writing books.”