‘Gives me the creeps,’ says Nellie, shivering.
‘It’s beautiful,’ is all I say, as, despite the cold and damp, the ivy creeping round the door, I see how this place must once have been. The original ceiling rose is still in place, with a chandelier and ornate cornices. The craftsmanship that had gone into building the place is stunning. I’m in awe.
There are doors off the main hall and we wonder which one to open first and what we might find behind it. The other two look at one another, then at me.
‘Hello?’ calls Nellie, in the direction of the stairs.
‘Nellie, there’s no one here. We just met the caretaker.’ Lizzie tuts. But we feel strangely as if we’re trespassing. I pick a door, grasp its mottled brass handle, and glance at my sisters, wondering what we might find.
They grab each other’s hands, then mine. I nudge the door with my shoulder.
We tumble into the big room together, then untangle ourselves and straighten up. The walls are a beautiful barely-blue, with gold on the doors and around the panelling. A high ceiling, and a huge fireplace, with marble surround and blackened back behind a wrought-iron grate. There is furniture: a long table, with chairs and candlesticks by the look of it, covered with sheets and blankets. Beyond that, there’s another room, a snug, perhaps, with a baby grand piano, and then the turret. I open a door to it, and a staircase spirals all the way to the top floor. A curved door leads down a few steps to what must be the kitchen.
We return to the hall and go into the billiard room – I think that’s what you’d call it – and then, the drawing room, with another beautiful fireplace and doors out to a moss-covered patio. There’s a big sideboard and a table with what looks like an antique gramophone, with a trumpet speaker. We walk across into the library: books fill the shelves and dust sheets cover the furniture, as if someone has just locked up and walked away.