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!
Two So Far
In this episode:
Cuppa with Shirley
Series Two So Far...
Stoney Grove owners Ann Simmons and Simon Tinsley split, and Ann returns to the Caribbean with friends Amy and James. After a short visit, she decides to find a place to live on Nevis and explore the "other" Stoney Grove, a ruined eighteenth-century plantation house. Doug Wood, an American ex-pat, befriends her, renting her a house, providing her with e-mail service, and giving her lessons in sailing, dancing and, well, who knows what else...Ann's more serious hours have been spent transcribing a document that she found at Nevis. It's an autobiographical account of the life of Stoney Grove's first lady, Fanny Rawlins Blake. Only part of the manuscript is on the island. The rest is hidden in a safe in Basil's bedroom. Emma breaks the code, finds the missing document, and uncovers a journal as well. She gives these to Simon, who carries them to Nevis in an unexpected visit.
In the months following Anns departure, Simon has decided 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. After presenting a number of options, most of them unpopular, he's decided to pursue a policy of creating a "virtual house" that will allow visitors to see each room's history at whatever period strikes their fancy. While he's ironing out a few minor technical glitches, Emma has organized a group of volunteers to lead old-fashioned tours. Simon is also in negotiations with a production studio who want to film an upcoming mini-series on the grounds of the estate.
Simon's longtime friend Phil is suffering a bit of a mid-life crisis. He's quit his job, left his wife, and come to stay at Stoney Grove until he decides what to do next. After a quick trip to Nevis, where he and Ann are reconciled, Simon decides to try his new-found personal skills to "sort out" Phil and Caroline.
Emma, when not giving tours, is prying into the more recent history, determined to uncover the story of John White's origins. John, housekeeper Shirley Johnson's grandson, learns that Jerry Anderson, a village antiques-dealer serving time in prison for theft, is his father. Jerry and Emma suspect that John's grandfather may not be Shirley's husband Martin, but rather Montgomery Hall, a former owner of the estate. In searching for answers, Emma finds a locked box in the safe in Basil's bedroom. In this episode, she opens it...
Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)
Hurry up and come inside. Youre letting the cold wind in. Brrr. Easter Week and the cold's playing merry hell with my arthritis. Well, go on then, sit down. No use waiting on ceremony with me. Youre not the blessed Queen, are you? Not that shed get much of a welcome out of me today either.
If that no good grandson of mine was close enough Id kick him all the way back to his aunties in Cornwall, I would. You know hes been hanging around here lately. Isnt it nice, I thought. Such a considerate lad, coming to see his Gran and Granddad so often. A bit too often, really, for a young man. It isnt good for him to be spending so much time around the old folks, I says to myself. But still, it warmed my heart, it did.
But though Im an old fool, Im not blind. I got to thinking that he wasnt actually visiting us much. Oh, sure enough, he was here, is here, as a matter of fact, but not in the kitchen, not in the garden, if you take my meaning. Hes been staying overnight in the big house. Didnt want to put me to extra work, he says, though he knows as well as anybody that no matter where he stays I have to make up the bed and tidy the room. Well, yesterday he came clean, he did. Confessed that hes taken a fancy to Emma, has been coming round to see her, and plans to come up most weekends to be with her. Nearly broke Martins heart.
Now Im not saying he doesnt deserve a nice girl, but Emma? Shes been nothing but trouble since the day she set foot in this house, and now shes gone and stolen my own family right out from under my nose. Next thing you know hell be helping her with this family history business, doing some snooping of his own. And poor Frank! The man is wasting away, lovesick before her very eyes, and she doesn't give a damn! Well its not right, I tell you. Not right at all. And I dont intend to stand quietly by and let her ruin all our lives and who knows what else. Im going to put a stop to things. Ive decided, haven't I? One of these days youre going to hear Oh, theres the blessed kettle.
Well, since youre here, you might as well have a cuppa. Lord knows I need one, but I've got to go to another one of his Lordships bloody meetings. Worse than that lot in the village with their Village Elder nonsense. Anyway, be a love and put the tea cosy over the pot and I'll have a cup when I get back. It's not a good cup of tea unless you can stand a spoon in it I always say. And shut the door behind you as you go
Each night I see the stars and think of you. It all happened so quickly, so unexpectedly. You were here and then youd gone. Please be patient with me. I need some time. But I also know that I need to be with you. This distance is not forever.
I have thought a lot about the night we bought the tickets. Ive asked myself over and over if we were lucky, or if winning set us up to lose each other. We werent ready, didnt really know what we wanted, or so I thought. But now Im not so sure. It seems like maybe that night was right after all.
I'm really sorry to hear that Frank is unhappy. He's such a sweet man. I am debating saying something to Emma, but I can't persuade her to love him, can I? Still, she might have tried to be more discreet. I know how awful it is to watch someone moving in on the one you love right in your own house. (Sorry! No criticism implied. I just really sympathize with him!).
While I also sympathize with your intentions to talk to Caroline, I'm not sure it's such a good idea. I suspect she won't have much patience for Phil, and at this point, I don't blame her. I'm sure you'll talk to her anyway, but don't say I didn't warn you!
The manuscripts you brought to me are fantastic! You really ought to read the transcriptions if you haven't already. Fanny lost her whole family when she was a young woman and was basically forced to marry this horrible older man against her will. I am beginning to feel like I know her. I want to see you, soon, but I also want to stay here and finish this work. I'd like to learn more about where she was born, where she's buried, what happened to her when she came back here. I feel like I owe it to her, like our lives are somehow part of her story too.
You, and Nevis, were lovely. I wish you'd come back here with me. I miss you even more now that I've seen you again. The days are a little cold right now. It's not the Caribbean, but I feel immeasurably more cheerful knowing that you are giving me some thought and that at some point I'll see you again.
Do you remember the night we bought the ticket? We stopped to get petrol on the way to the restaurant and spent the evening talking about our dreams and plans. As early as it was in our relationship I was thinking that whatever happened I wanted you to be part of it. I guess I was full of myself and the English country house but you got so excited about it all that it seemed more than just folly. Perhaps it was all meant to be.
I can't see the stars here! It's been cloudy since I got back. I can certainly see the attraction of Nevis but don't take too long to come back.
John's been hanging around the house mooning over Emma. Not sure why really, she has become very severe! Still she seems to be suffering his attentions happily enough and I think that Frank's out on his ear. Poor chap hasnt spoken in weeks now. Did you know he was a school teacher? He gave Emma his history while I was away. Reading between the lines, seems he was bonking a student, had a nervous breakdown and came here. Though why here I'm not sure.
I'm in correspondence with Caroline. Phil is rather lost without her. Actually, truth is he's driving me nuts, following me around trying to be helpful. I mean I like the lad but I'm seeing Caroline in a new saintly light! I'll use my best tact and charm and broker a meeting.
Hope to hear from you.
p.s. I remember Phil saying how much he liked you in that red dress. Couldn't hurt.
I've been talking to John. He came to visit me on his own and it quite touched me. I'll be out soon and I hope the boy and I can be mates. I'd like to buy him a beer at the Idiot. Seems like the least I can do.
We talked about you. I said how nice you've been and I think he's quite sweet on you! Thing is, I'm a little bit worried. Now you mustn't take offence, it's just that I'd not want the lad to get hurt. So, you do care for him, don't you? I mean, seems to me he could be in line for a bit of an inheritance if we prove that he's Monty's grandson. Sorry if I'm out of order asking, but the people I mix with these days do leave you with a bit of a suspicious mind, most of them being crooks and all.
Gerald Anderson (Jerry)
As you know by now, Simon came to see me here, and since his visit weve been keeping in touch more often. He told me that you were seeing John White, and that as a result, Frank has stopped talking.
Im saying this as a friend to both of youplease, please dont hurt Frank. I know youre free to do what you want, but Frank is such a sweet, sensitive man, and I hate to think of how he must feel right now. Ive been in the situation of believing that someone I love is slipping away. Fortunately for me, I was wrong, and were working it out.
Are you serious about John? If so, maybe you
should leave Stoney Grove for awhile and save Frank the hurt of having to live through it
all. Im not firing youyoure doing great work. I just think you might
make things easier on everyone if you went to live in the village.
I've been busy with the Blake manuscripts that Simon brought to me, and have enclosed transcriptions of each. Let me know what you think of them!
I dont have your financial resources and cant disappear to the the village (or the Caribbean). I dont run away from my problems. It is absolutely none of your business what is happening between John, Frank and me. You are free to comment on the quality and timeliness of my work, nothing more. The rest is really nothing to do with you, and Id appreciate it if you would refrain from meddling in my private life in future. I dont like people judging me, especially those that are ignorant of the facts.
Fanny's HistoryOn My Married Life
George Rawlins and I arrived in London in March of 1781, and I became the bride of William Blake that same month. My new husband was a man of fifty three years when I met him, of pale complexion and humourless countenance. Born of the merchant class and educated to take his part within it, he commanded neither the inclination nor the talent to explore the world beyond the bounds of accountancy and trade. He could decipher a ledger, and had he been a man of lesser fortune, that would have been enough. However, his betrothal to me had been followed by an unexpected upturn in other business ventures, and I found him to be in a state of greater wealth than I, my brother, or indeed he himself, had anticipated. An ambitious man, he quickly saw the advantages of his new situation, for not only had he acquired a wife on good financial terms, he had acquired one in possession of education and taste. With these attributes in his control, he was assured of a promising future in English society.
Having misjudged the nature of the scandal that compelled my brother to bargain me away, he took me to his marriage bed without a trace of the gentlemanly behaviour desired on such occasions. I thought him a brute, and did all in my power to evade his advances. This impression I held firmly until the day of his death, despite his attempts to see me comfortably situated.
In anticipation of finding a suitable partner for life, he had commissioned the building of an estate in the Sussex countryside near the South Downs. His nature tending to the conservative, and his tastes tending toward the antiquated, he favoured a style in house and landscape already a generation or two out of fashion. The construction of the great house began before he settled on a wife, but the resolution of that problem, and the fortune that followed the decision, greatly expedited the completion of the building, and we were ready to take up residency there at the turn of the New Year, 1782. To celebrate his good fortune, he named the estate Stoney Grove, and, in an effort to please me, furnished a suite of rooms within it in a style reminiscent of the West Indies. To the grounds he added a hothouse, and promised me my fill of fragrant blossoms and exotic fruits. I rebuffed the proffered olive branch with bitterness, for how could this unhappy place compare with the home I had know with my dear brother and father? The Downs were but poor reminders to me of the grandeur of Nevis Peak, the grounds sparsely furnished and dead, the sun a pale, washed out sister to the brilliant orb that had been the constant companion of my youth.
With the house itself, you are familiar. Though the skill of the architect and the fortune of my husband were united to secure tasteful appointments, the cavernous twilight of its interior afforded me little comfort. The rooms were draughty; the sun, when she showed her face, hidden behind leaden draperies. I kept to my rooms as often as possible, finding warmth by the fireside, and solace in books and in memories.
You were born in February of 1782, just short of a year after I wed Mr. Blake. I could not name you for my mother, Aminta, nor my friend, Sawney, so I settled on Mary in honor of my tutor, Miss Stewart. Your father was disappointed that you were not a son, and had little interest in your progress. In spite of the unwelcoming climate to which you were born, you thrived as an infant, and were a great source of happiness to me.Fanny's Journal Entries 1780-1782 (translated from the original French and transcribed)
November 8, 1780
Stoney Grove, Nevis
I am to be the property of an Englishman. Not as another of his country owned my grandmother, for that ownership would not serve his means. My brother loathes me, is shamed by a father who could create me, frightened by a mother who did not envy his English ways nor honour his English laws. For this shame, this fear, he would sell his sister.
March 15, 1781
London, my wedding day
I am a teacup, a bolt of kersey, an ass, a cow, a goat, goods to be bartered or sold to seal a strangers bargain and make him rich, make him master, make him father to my unborn sons. I am dressed up in Homer, in Euclid, in Herodotus, but I am still a merchants whore.
February 2, 1782
Stoney Grove, Sussex
I dream of light. Night upon night I close my eyes and light shimmers, dances, beats upon me. It dances through water, dazzling bright. It flashes on the silvered glass of my fathers drawing room in the brilliance of noontime, it beats against the pure white stucco of the mansions walls. I see the white-gold belly of a giant fish in my grandmothers leather-brown hands. I see the light of bonfires, great infernos burning the sand and the still waters of the bay into a brightness that quenches the stars. I move in the light, towards the light, I am the light. And then I awake in the darkness that is England in winter.
Note to Emma
Missed you this afternoon. Meet me tonight at the Idiot for a pint? I told Gran and Granddad about you and me. I think Granddad was pleased--he's always had a bit of a soft spot for you. Gran, on the other hand, is very unhappy. Nothing personal, she just doesn't like the thought of me having a girl of my own. Okay, well, to be honest, I don't think she likes you. She'll get over it. Sorry Frank is taking it so hard.
7th meeting of the Steering Committee for
Attendees: Phil Porkridge, Shirley Johnson, Martin Johnson, Evelyn Prosser, Mr. Tinsley Snr., Simon Tinsley, Chester Vyse. Emma Knytleigh.
Simon: Well it's nice to be back. Where's Emma? Any idea, John?
John: No, I've been looking for her myself.
Shirley: You've got no sense young man, following that madam around.
Simon: Well, you seem at a loss Frank, so maybe you can keep the notes today in Emma's absence. Anyway, it's good to see you all again. Especially Chester, who I left with his head in a toilet bowl!
Chester: I had some bad fish.
Simon: Jolly unlucky that, not quite the way you'd planned the trip, I bet. Still, onwards and upwards. Thanks for looking after things whilst I was away, Phil. Any surprises for me?
Phil: Um, the box thingy that Emma found in the safe disappeared and we never got it open.
Simon: What's wrong with the old fashioned way? Nobodys got a hammer?
: I'll hammer him! That box is private.
Evelyn: Well, as it's no longer here I think we can move on.
Phil: Oh, I agree, Evelyn. We did get a nice offer from the Segovia people for using the place for the TV series. I'll leave the decision to you, but it seems very generous. The producer is Arthur Daily, he said he'd been in contact with you.
Simon: Never heard of him. Is this a good idea?
: I'm not having more strangers in the house.
Mr. Tinsley Snr.: Should be all right. Glad it's not the snooty BBC. Who's going to be the actress then? That Liz Hurley's a looker. She can come here.
Simon: Don't think it's cast yet, Dad. Actually I was hoping for Uma Thurman, but anyway
Chester: Well as I said to the Gazette, I really think this kind of thing is very destructive and detrimental to the house and grounds.
: and us!
Evelyn: The TV crew could affect my schedule. I was hoping to have some students digging here in the summer.
Simon: OK. Seems like we need to charge them more then, because of the disruptions. So, are you finding anything good?
Evelyn: Well it's too early to say on the landscape side, but there is artefactual evidence of an earlier site. We've not yet found any signs of a structure, though.
: That'd be Baldric's house. She's been pawing through his garbage.
Simon: Good, I couldn't deal with another house at this point. Still keep looking, I'm sure we can milk you for some publicity if we need to.
: More people to get rid of.
Simon: Oh, hello Emma. Glad you could make it. Actually, we started at three.
Emma: Well I was following a lead. I found the box and just got back from the village where they opened it.
Simon: Excellent. What's in there? Anything valuable?
Emma: Why don't you tell us Frank? You know, don't you?
: It's none of their business.
Frank: Yes, Emma, I know. I'm sure one of the things you found was my birth certificate. As you've no doubt discovered, my mother was Ellen Hall.
Shirley: You knew?!
Frank: They told me.
: Well, I never told him.
: Never mind.
Emma: Frank, are you OK? Frank ..