This page contains most of the content from the main 'story line' characters. It is designed to allow an easy way of keeping up with the story on slow connections (or for reading later). It is, of course, no substitute for the real thing!
Series Two So Far
In this episode:
Cuppa with Shirley
Series Two So Far...
Stoney Grove owners Ann Simmons and Simon Tinsley split. Ann returns to the Caribbean and rents a house on Nevis from Doug Wood, an American ex-pat. She begins to explore the "other" Stoney Grove, a ruined eighteenth-century plantation house. She also spends several months transcribing an autobiographical account of the life of Stoney Grove's first lady, Fanny Rawlins Blake. Part is on Nevis; the rest is in a locked box in England that Emma discovers and opens. Simon makes an unexpected visit to deliver the manuscript to Ann. Under a moonlit Caribbean sky, he and Ann reconcile.
Meanwhile, back in England, Simon decides to channel his energies into making the house an important tourist destination. He's set up a series of regular meetings with the staff and other assorted residents of the property, and is working through a plan. The plan includes guided tours through the house, and an agreement to let Segovia TV film an upcoming miniseries on the property.
Simon's longtime friend Phil leaves his wife Caroline to live the life of leisure with Simon. After several weeks of separation, he realizes that hes made a terrible mistake. Caroline takes him back, grudgingly. His former employers do not.
Emma discovers that Shirleys grandson John is the son of Jerry Anderson, a local antiques-dealer turned thief. She also learns that Frank is the illegitimate son of Ellen Hall. Shirley, infuriated with Emma's meddling in family business, discovers drugs in Emma's rooms and turns her over to the police. John admits that some of the drugs are his. The rest come from Ann, who sent them to England for analysis, suspecting that they are connected historically with the murder of Fannys husband. Emma leaves Stoney Grove as a result of the drug bust, preferring to live with Reverend Nigel Banks. Ann would like to come home, but must wait for her solicitor to have drug charges against her dismissed.
In this episode, more connections are revealed...
Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)Oh, thank goodness youre here. I cant thank you enough for coming. You must promise me not to breathe a word of this to another soul. Ta. Well, where to start?
He knows. Hes always known. To think, after all these years. Well, its been all our married life, hasnt it? Never said a word. Never treated Elizabeth any different than if shed been his own. Or John. Youve seen them together. Has any other boy had such a devoted Granddad?
Well, this morning he comes in, to this very kitchen, and says, "Shirley, Ive told Emma the truth." "What truth, you daft pilchard?" I said, never suspecting that he had anything to say. He looks at me real seriously, and says, "I dont have any seed, Shirley. Never had. Cant graft children. Nor grandchildren." And with that he walked out the door.
Oh dear. Give me a minute, and Ill be all right. No good crying over spilled milk they say. And its been spilled for nearly fifty years
I didnt mean to lie to him all these years, you know. Hes been a good husband, has Martin, and a good father too, if you take my meaning. I might have married him anyway. I quite fancied him, even at the beginning. But he was so shy then, you see, hardly ever said a word. And an under-gardener. Not in a position to be courting. Anyway, it took me quite a while to get him to talk to me. By then I wasnt free. But Mr. Monty got me in the family way, and you see, then I was free. He couldnt marry me, a man in his position and me a house maid. So I went with Martin. He took me to the village to the pictures. He was such a gentleman. Under the circumstances, mind you, I didnt have time for it. Had to practically force myself on him, but in the end nature took its course. Or so I always believed he thought.
Elizabeth was a tiny baby when she came. Wasnt hard to believe she was a bit early. He looked after her, loved her. Mr. Monty loved her too. She was quite a spoilt child, was that girl. I always wanted a big family, but no more children ever came. I suppose I know why, now.
Mr. Monty? Well, I loved him too. He was so different than Martin. So polite and polished. He needed me, he was lonely. But Im not one to make the same mistake twice, if you take my meaning Hang on, whos there? Martin? Is that you?
"Id have married you anyway, Shirley."
Seems safe to write again. I just heard from my solicitor who reports that the powder I sent to Emma is not related to any legally restricted drugs. The lab is still soring out what it is, but can say definitively that it's not illegal to possess it. He's still working with customs to get past the "no plant materials" from outside of the country restriction, but since it was not alive and therefore not likely to contaminate British fields and meadows, I should eventually be cleared.
So, now that I'm back, what have I missed?
Actually there isnt much ho in my life right now. Caroline thinks I should try to get my job back, so I contacted the personnel department who were quite sniffy about it all. Do you know how wonderful it felt to tell my boss to go stuff his head with cabbage leaves and how awful it feels to go crawling back? Thing is, I was good at my job. I dont really understand why, but I am a good accountant. As Ian Dury said in a slightly different context What a waste! I wish I was good at painting or something interesting.
Oh well, whilst Im looking for work Im painting the spare bedroom which, fortunately, is exactly the same size as the spare bed, so it shouldnt take long.
Any chance of an outing?
Yours in hope
Dear Mr. Tinsley
Your recent comments were a clear violation of the gentlemens agreement that we made when I agreed to edit the newspaper. I am a journalist. I cannot have my professional integrity compromised by my employer. As you know, the readership of the Gazette is increasing because of my efforts and at some point we may even generate some revenue. Unless you want Twicks back in charge, butt out!
Mr. Max Well, editor Puckering Gazette
I've finished transcribing the manuscript from Fanny Blake and have worked through most of her journal. If you haven't read them already, ask Emma to share them with you. There's still a missing part of the story--it ends in a muddle--but it's clear that she came back to Nevis to be reunited with her son.
Every time I get involved as an historian with people's lives I feel like to some degree I've come to know them, but Fanny's story has been more direct than most. It's made me think a lot about what it means to have a sense of roots, about the things we can choose in our lives, and about how much we can realistically determine our destinies. Fanny spent her entire life between worlds--neither black nor white, neither enslaved nor entirely free, often dominated by others. Ultimately, when she took control of her life, it meant cutting herself off from the man she loved and dooming her relationship with her own daughter. She found some peace at Stoney Grove, even came to love it, I believe, but in the end couldn't stay.
Exploring her life has made me think a lot about myself, my relationship to you and to Stoney Grove. I've been free to make choices to an extent not possible with most people, and yet I've still not gotten it right. When I left you last fall I left someone I cared about deeply, a home that I had chosen, a life that was mine to shape however I wanted. I was a coward. I caved in to Jackie Collins, of all people, who in the end didn't care much about either of us. I didn't--couldn't-- believe you loved me, because you didn't love me the way I thought you should. I should have listened more and tried to control you less.
I haven't been unhappy with my time on Nevis, but this isn't my real life. That is with you. I know I can't get it all right, but surely I can make wiser choices than I have.
I sent you a letter but i'm no good with words so i thought I'd email too. I'd like to work at Stoney Grove as a gardener. I've been doing it as long as I can remember in the summers with Granddad. Used to be a chore, then i got to like it because i could be with him and Gran. At Uni it was a good mental break, didn't have to think. Now I'm seeing it as more of a creative thing. I've been reading about gardeners and some of the great ones, and it would be an honour to follow in the footsteps of Wiliam Heath and make this place beautiful again. I'm excited that Evelyn has started finding foundations. Maybe we could restore the grotto and finish with the temple that Ann and I worked on last summer. I've got good ideas and I know a lot about gardening already.
I got your reply through your solicitor today. My one satisfaction is that we have already gone to press. I hope you get sued.
Mr. Max Well, former editor Puckering Gazette
I've been thinking more about Fanny's story and why I've gotten so involved in it. In spite of a disastrous marriage, she had such strong relationships with people and places in her life and was so self-aware. She had such certainty about who she was and how she ought to conduct herself, even to the point of feeling morally justified in killing William Blake. While I'm not saying she was right, I envy her strength and her self confidence.
I've always felt more like a spectator in life. Maybe
that's why I became interested in history--I can know another person without having to
risk anything in return. In spite of my happy, middle class childhood, my
professional success and my huge good fortune with the lottery, I envy Fanny. It's
silly really, but true. And in some ways, you're like her. Do you ever wonder what
the hell you're doing, or question why anyone should care?
ps. Do you have something to tell me about Frank?
Not sure what youve missed, but Ive missed you.
Ive spent my time worrying about repairs, money and restoration. Chester has been helpful (though it pains me to say so), but we are going to need even more money to do this right. Ive told Segovia they can film here. Hope thats OK. They are willing to pay quite a lot, though I think we need to be careful about what they try to do.
Ive been trying to think about why I care about this place. At first I thought it was you, and thats part of it. This was the major thing we did together, the decision bound us to one another. When you left I wanted to go ahead to prove to you I did care about things, to show you I took it seriously. Funny thing is, I do. I can get Chester going easily enough. He thinks Im an idiot. Another few months and hell be ready to vote Labour and have the place made a State institution. But the thing is, I want to get it right. I want to hold onto a piece of history and I want to show it means something. Fanny lived here, the granddaughter of a slave in a house and a country built on the proceeds of slavery (see I did read the manuscript!). Thats important, and its just one story and were now the guardians of that and all the stories and the people that lived here then and now.
And this place was a home too. And Id like it to be a home for us.
I haven't forgotten you but, despite this life of supposed leisure, I'm really busy. I've had solicitors coming out of my ears what with the drug case and the newspaper. Did I tell you I bought the local newspaper? I thought I'd be a big media tycoon and got in an editor from London. He showed the journalistic integrity of a London tabloid and if it wasn't for the fact that his main target for libel was me, the paper could have been sued for everything I'm worth!
So he's gone and I now run a paper!
I'll call you about some drinkies, or maybe we could go watch the West Indies. I feel really interested this year because I've been there now!
There are a few things I forgot to tell you about. Theres the whole Frank thing but you know about that. What I maybe forgot to mention is that I bought the Puckering Gazette at the beginning of the year. It was really cheap and I thought we could get some good stories about Stoney Grove. No such thing as bad publicity etc. Well the drug stories made that one clear and I just told the editor to stick his journalistic integrity up his bum and fired him.
Unfortunately next issue Ill be in charge (unfortunate that I'll be in charge, very unfortunate that it's next issue and not this one).
If you see this issue I wanted you to know it wasnt my fault.
Ive finished transcribing all the material I have relating to Fanny Blake, and have enclosed the last of it for you. It is still not clear what happened to her after she left Stoney Grove and if she ever was reunited with her son. Id like you to go back through the early nineteenth century papers at the Rawlins archives and see if you can find anything relevant.
This is your last assignment until you let me know your decision about whether to continue working or to resign. I hope you stay on at Stoney Grove. I know you must be fed up with it all, but theres so much more to do! I need your help to find all the missing pieces that are out there and make the story of the place come alive. I also value your friendship, however, and will do anything I can to help you if you decide to leave.
If you won't meet me, please at least phone me. I don't know what to do. Thing is, I miss you. I've tried to pop round your office but you're never there. Granddad has me working on the other side of the estate most of the time anyway.
I know you think I'm a git. I am. I want to make it up to you. You're the most beautiful girl I have ever known. And you're smart and sexy and I love being with you. Don't give up on me. Just tell me what to do.
Thanks for the information about Fanny. Ive arranged to visit the archives Monday week. Ive given leaving a bit of thought, but in the end have decided to stay. Youre rightthere is a lot more to learn, and in spite of the personalities here I like what Im doing professionally. Youve given me a fair amount of flexibility, and I appreciate that.
Ive also decided to stay with Nigel a bit longer whilst I try to find a flat in the village to let. It is too complicated to be around John right now and Shirley still hates me. Probably always will, the old cow.
Chester tells me that youve been cleared on drug charges. I hope to see you back here soon.
P.S. Thought you should know I've been working on Frank's history. Since we got the box open and he admitted he knew that he was Ellen's son, I've been trying to find out if she provided for him after her death. He should be entitled to a portion of the estate, and I'd like to know why he apparently didn't get anything. He's not bothered, doesn't care about it, but there might be some missing pieces that help it all make more sense. I'm doing this on my own time, of course, since I can't imagine it's in your interest as part owner to find out about Frank's inheritance.
Fanny's HistoryOn My Widowhood
Of the intervening years, you have some awareness, having grown from infancy to childhood to youth in my company. As you know, I sought no husband to replace the one I had destroyed. What comfort I had in life derived from my love of you, the small society of friends I cultivated in the neighborhood, and the affection of Mr. Heath. Though he traveled the country in the employ of other gentlemen who desired his services, he was never long from Stoney Grove.
As you matured, I began to detect more and more of your father in your countenance and in your spirit, and I despaired for the son I had lost. Though I never ceased to love you, I longed to be free of the burden of the man whose ghost haunted me in the paleness of your visage, the manner of your speech, and the thousand little habits that you were, no doubt, unaware that you shared with him. Moreover, though my better acquaintance with England greatly improved my esteem of it, I pined for the sunshine and beauty of my native land. I possessed the wealth to remove us both comfortably to Nevis, yet it was clear to me that by nature, you were ill-suited to life in the tropics. Having experienced the fate of a young woman, alone and without protection in the world, I could not subject you to the same or worse miseries in the hands of uncaring relations. And so in spite of my unhappiness, I remained mistress of Stoney Grove.
In the autumn of 1802, my friend William Heath departed this world. At the turn of the new year, the news of the death of my brother, George Rawlins, intruded upon my mourning. I had heard no word from him since the day of my marriage, and was greatly surprised to be notified of his passing. The letter came from his solicitor, informing me that my youngest brother James, whom I had never met, had inherited my father's estate. Shortly thereafter, the aforementioned James troubled himself to write to me, and the news that he shared pushed all thoughts of mourning from my mind.
In short, he revealed to me that these twenty years I had lived in the erroneous belief of a lie that my husband had so cruelly persuaded me to embrace as truth, and my brother George had, by his silence, allowed to continue. It seems that my son had not died in his infancy, but had been carried away to London in the company of my husband and a wetnurse, and there given over to the charge of George Rawlins. That blackard returned with him to Hundley Hall. Persuading the inmates of that estate that the child was the bastard son of someone towards whom he felt some charitable impulses, he reared him there as a servant until the boy was old enough to be shipped to the West Indies and indentured to a ship's master. The child arrived on Nevis in 1792, a year shy of his tenth birthday, and had not been heard of again. In reviewing his brother's correspondence, James had discovered this deception, as well as the unhappy circumstances of my marriage, and arrived at the conclusion that this child must be my son. The tone of his letter made clear that in this brother, I had found an ally, and though he had not until now had the courage to meet his sister, he was willing to make amends and help me to locate my missing child.
I immediately sent off a flurry of letters to the many acquaintances of my father's that remained on Nevis, begging them to share any intelligence they might have of an immigrant child by the name of Ned Blake. For months I waited in vain, as letter after letter was returned with variations of the same theme, "we have no news of such a child."
I despaired of ever finding him. I could not bear knowing that he was alive in the world, and did not know that he had a mother who loved him and would do all in her power to see the wrongs inflicted upon him set to right. Yet that knowledge was of more comfort than the alternative; that he had met a premature death, friendless and among strangers.
As I had no surety that the boy yet lived, I spoke not a word of his existence to you. The longer I waited and pondered my position, the more the resolve grew within me that I would not burden you with the rivalry and bitterness that bringing him to live at Stoney Grove would inevitably arouse. These feelings crystalised as I observed the attentions that Mr. Morcombe began to lavish upon you, and your evident pleasure at their receipt. At the time, he seemed like an honourable young man, and I trusted that he would make you a fine husband. But I would not test his affection for you by introducing a stranger into the household. If your brother lived, surely he had made a life for himself. And so I waited, and worried, and planned.
And then, a fortnight ago came the letter. A letter from him, in Ned's own hand, was delivered into my own. He was alive, on Nevis, and, having come of age, had settled in a small cottage on the island with a wife and a child on the way. This happy news I could not bear in silence, and in my gratitude and joy, I shared the outlines of the story with you.
I will close now, only pausing long enough to assure you that I hold no ill will towards you for the events that followed these revelations, and to thank you for your aid in my escape. I do not hope to see you again in this life, as I cannot now return to England, and I do not expect you to leave your homeland. However, be assured of my constant affection.
Your loving mother,
Fanny Rawlins Blake
We churn the earth, we two. Like children building castles on the beach we dig, we shape, a miniature kingdom of mottes and baileys, but not for war, not for bloodshed. We will create beauty where there was none before.
June 8, 1785
Stoney Grove, Sussex
I have been asked, by my dearest friend, to be a wife again. How can I refuse him, this man that I love dearer than I have loved anyone but my own children? How can I accept him, he who thinks me pure, a flower, but does not know the danger that lies in all of living things? I cannot begrudge him a wife, I cannot be a wife. How shall I live?
August 17, 1785
Stoney Grove, Sussex
Waiting, always waiting. For his voice, for his eyes, for his touch upon my hair, my cheek, my lips, for his laughter, in the silence of his absence I wait.
March 14, 1786
Stoney Grove, Sussex
Sickness has returned to Stoney Grove. My child lies abed, feverish and fragile. My physic refuses to heal her, the doctor says he can not help. My friend paces outside the door, powerless in this arena. I must join him, for is not action better than silently awaiting death?
March 17, 1786
Stoney Grove, Sussex
She is well. Her face has lost its flush, her skin is cool and dry. I am still mother, though by what grace I do not know.
October 23, 1788
Stoney Grove, Sussex
Crows pushed across the sky like black rags before the wind. Leaves in whirlwinds rustling, their dry brown fingers reaching for the warmth of the fire, consumed by their greed. Darkness inching nearer as the sun withdraws her face from me. And then a giggle, a warm small hand upon my arm. The white fuzz of a dandelion pressed against my face, a gift from the dearest gift of all. A stirring in the breeze, and it is gone in a thousand tiny splinters.
Entries 1791-1792 (translated from the original French and transcribed)
May 1, 1791
Stoney Grove, Sussex
I see him when I look at her. She frowns and he is there, her smooth skin turned to wrinkles, her child-eyes turned hard. Quickly he is gone, and she is innocent again. Ere long he has returned, an upturned nose, an impatient wave. Though I sent him from this place, stubbornly he returns.
February 5, 1792
Stoney Grove, Sussex
I dreamt of Ned last night, at the crossroads by a great hollow tree. He looked at me, his soft infant eyes on mine, and then he flew across the sea, like my grandmother before him.
Entry 1799 (translated from the original French and transcribed)
May 7, 1799
Stoney Grove, Sussex
I stand in a thicket of gentle blossoms amidst the faded beauty of the hyacinth, the tulip, the flag. I breathe the sweet scent of the rose, welcome harbingers of summer. I watch the clouds drift by, stark white against the deep blue heavens. I feel your fingers entwined with mine. I know happiness.
10th meeting of the Steering Committee for Stoney Grove
Attendees: Simon Tinsley, Frank Churchill, Shirley and Martin Johnson, Evelyn Prosser, Mr. Tinsley Sr., Chester Vyse, Emma Knytleigh and John White.
Simon: Well quite a crowd again. Nice to see your smiling face again, Emma. I take it youre off the hook now?
Emma: Sergeant Archer gave me a warning about mixing with undesirables, but no charges will be brought against me.
Simon: That just leaves John (who's applying for a job incidentally), as our representative of the criminal classes. Whats your record looking like John?
John: Im up before the magistrates at the end of June.
Simon: Splendid. Providing they dont charge Ann with shipping drugs and Dad for running illicit games of chances, maybe well get through this thing.
Tinsley Snr: Ive been reading. It's not cards. The dice games Ive been playing with the pensioners are historical. They were in a book.
Emma: Mr. Tinsley, they were played in low class taverns and were illegal in 1793, as they are now. You cheat.
Tinsley Snr: Well its only a few pennies, isnt it? It's not like I have an income.
Simon: Moving on. Ive had some estimates from renovators. Thanks to Chester for working with them. Basically we have some serious problems in part of the house that will cost a lot of money. As an alternative to fleecing our few tourists, I can announce that we have an agreement with Segovia. The Chester location thing was cleared up. The researcher had spoken to our very own Mr. Vyse and confused the name and place. Still some details to go through, evidently they want to have the house as a working farm and remove the porticos, but I think we can work it out. Bottom line is cash for renovations and maybe we can even start some restoration.
Chester: I know youre winding me up, but I have to say that I cannot be involved in this project if it affects the integrity of the house.
Simon: Actually they do want to knock down the porticos and plough the fields, but trust me Chester, well keep our integrity.
Chester: I have voted Conservative all my life but sometimes I think the communists were right. One person shouldnt have this house.
Simon: Yes, but I didnt inherit, Chester. All my fortune is fate. Funny, isnt it?
Chester: Yeah, hilarious.
Evelyn: What's next for my project? I've been surveying the area around the house and further into the garden. If you've looked at my reports you'll see that there are several promising lines of research. How will Segovia affect this? I assume they don't want to film a lawn covered with holes and spoil piles.
Simon: Well I actually did read some of your reports. Maybe the best plan is that you work away from the house. John is interested in the landscape. Maybe you could work with him, as well as Emma, in starting to tie down some things in the grounds that could lead to restoration.
Evelyn: That actually makes sense, but they mustnt dig holes near the house. All that land is evidence.
Frank: I don't like the idea of camera people traipsing all over the place. Will they want the Hermitage too?
Shirley: I'm just saying now that I won't have a crowd of hungry strangers to feed. And they're not filming in my kitchen.
Emma: Should hope not. They'd close you down for health violations.
Shirley: Your own health won't be too good if you keep on like that, Miss.
Frank: They don't want disruption, you see. They just want to be left alone.
John: Well, some of us don't want to be left alone. Emma, if I could just have a word...
Emma: Not today, John.
John: But Em, I...
Shirley: What's wrong with my kitchen anyway? I suppose you think you could do better.
Simon: All right, all right. Calm down everyone. I can see we've reached our productive limits for today. Meeting over.
Martin: Emma, can I have a word?
Emma: Of course, what about?
Martin: Well, it's just... I dont agree with what Shirley did. She had no right to go prying like that and get you in trouble.
Emma: Thank you Martin, I appreciate that.
Martin: She feels guilty about John you see, wants the best for him and always feels she hasnt done enough.
Emma: And Im not good enough?
Martin: No-one can be love, its not you. You see, she sent Elizabeth off when she was in the family way. Then let the wee lad be brought up by her sister. Monty was getting old; she didnt think we could manage a baby around, seemed best what with Monty offering money. Still sometimes it's not easy for her.
Emma: And what did you think?
Martin: Oh, I wasnt allowed too much of an opinion about Elizabeth. I loved the child mind, but knowing she wasnt mine always kept my tongue quiet, if you know what I mean.
Emma: You knew she wasnt your child?
Martin: Oh yes, can't have children, you see. Doctors told me years ago. So when Shirley said she was pregnant I knew it wasnt mine. Couldnt be, could it? But we got along well, lived the lives we wanted, kept to our places. Funny thing is, I really think of John as my Grandson.
Emma: Does Shirley know you know?
Martin: Never discussed it really. Always good to have in the background, as it were. But now I think shes gone too far and shes hurting John. It isn't right. So now you know, and you can hold her back.
Emma: Thank you.
Martin: Your welcome.
Emma: I have to ask, the big vegetables?
Martin: Large vegetables from a seedless man? Well I never had much patience with psychologists myself, but there you go.