As I mentioned in Monday’s post, when it came time to brainstorm SILENT ON THE MOOR, I was fortunate enough to make a trip to Yorkshire to absorb the setting. My goal was to focus on the moor itself, and after a few days in Haworth (Bronte country!) I had a feel for the wonderful bleakness of the area. What I didn’t have was Grimsgrave Hall itself. Nothing in the village seemed just right, and I had resigned myself to the idea that I would simply have to create it out of imagination as I had Bellmont Abbey.
On a whim, we decided to explore a few stately homes in the vicinity, and we settled on a handful we thought would be a good representation of what that part of Yorkshire had to offer. We visited Harewood House, Castle Howard, Fountains, and–on a whim–East Riddlesden Hall. The first three I had heard of, but East Riddlesden was completely unfamiliar, and I had no idea what to expect.
What I got was Grimsgrave. Administered by the National Trust, East Riddlesden is a 17th-century manor house built on a site originally cleared and settled by Angles. The house is somewhat forbidding, built of dark stone with a low roofline. One wing stretches out, and it’s only on second glance you realize it’s a ruin–a ghostly remnant of rooms that once stood there.
But it was the pond that sold me. In front of the Hall lies a Victorian pond, dark green and thick with reeds. I saw a photograph of the Hall in 1904, barely after the Victorian era, and even as a family home with young men in boater hats, the pond gives the house an air of menace. (The two women in black, huddled near the entrance, made it even more atmospheric.) The whole place has a deliciously Gothic “The Turn of the Screw” vibe, and I knew immediately it would be my Grimsgrave.
After I arrived home, I discovered it had been used as the setting for the filmed version of “Wuthering Heights” that featured Tom Hardy as well as being a featured location for a paranormal program about the most haunted places in Britain. I was intrigued to find on a Google images search that it’s apparently very popular for weddings! It is an unforgettable place, and a visit is highly recommended.