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Bless This House > Bless This House

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Interlude from Bless This House about Lady Alice Rowhedge.
Page 257 of my 4 books combined together:
"Lady Alice Rowhedge was found guilty of witchcraft and condemned to be burned. In the brief interval between the delivery and carrying out of her sentence she was taken back to the cell in the old Bridewell in Friargate at Baildon. She must have gone and stood by the narrow windows, unglazed and rendered still more narrow by a rusty iron bar. What happened happened so SWIFTLY that people going home from the trial and arguing about her guilt, or her innocence, actually saw and stepped aside to avoid a small black dog which was proceeding along Friargate in peculiar circular fashion, seeming to wish to bite its own tail and crying out as it went.
Alice Rowhedge - with what was almost her last breath - said that she saw the dog and imagined that it had a thorn in its flank. She called and it came, and she put out her arm, not without difficulty. The dog bit her, sinking its teeth into her hand, not once but many times, for on account of the narrowness of the window and the angle at which her arm was held seh could not easily withdraw it. The dog ran on as far as the corner, where a blacksmith, recognizing the nature of its ailment, clubbed it to death with his hammer.
Inside the cell Lady Alice told the gaoler what she had done and what had happened, and added, in what he called a wondering voice "No dog ever bit me before!" Then, in almost no time at all, she fell into a frenzy, and from frenzy to coma, and died."

......Now if you think that is kinda quick to die from rabies so what really happened in another book was that Jassy delivered her some poison which she took and that was what really killed her. When I figure out which other book it is I will post it but there are over 50 books and I get them confused.

I believe Lady Alice is the one who haunts "The Ride" in Afternoon of An Autocrat and may be the partial cause of the death of Sir Richard Shelmadine. Of course, he was also ill wisht.

message 2: by Connie (new)

Connie Wasn't Jassy from a far later time than Lady Alice? Lady Alice had a son that fought for the Royalists in the Civil War (1600's) and Jassy was from the 18th century I thought.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Connie, You may be right. I will have to read over again. I thought Jassy helped Lady Alice but I may be confused which is why I can read these books again and again.

message 4: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (Pantladie) | 1 comments I hope you guys can help me. I've only read a few Norah Lofts books so far but I absolutely love them. I'm currently rereading Bless This House for about the 5th time, my gran introduced me to it.

When queen Elizabeth gives Thomas Rowhedge the Merravay estate it is where there is a ruin of a castle that "hasnt been inhabited since Norfolk went to the tower", they then build the Merravay house.

Gran is convinced that she read a book about the castle when it WAS inhabited - ie a prequel to Bless This House. Does anyone know what it might be called?

Im so pleased to find so many other people who appreciate this fantastic author!

message 5: by Barbara (last edited Mar 01, 2009 05:03PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Marianne wrote: "I hope you guys can help me. I've only read a few Norah Lofts books so far .."

Hi Marianne, we 'met' at another site when you asked the question about Merravey's original site. How nice that you are here too, you will love it. I posted your question on Allreaders Norah Lofts board too.
PS, go to the neverending quiz while you are here too, lots of NL questions

message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Hi Syb - this is in answer to your post on Jon Borage - Murderer? There is this thread started ages ago by Alice , we could maybe use this if we wanted to a do a group read. I for one would love to !

message 7: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments I would LOVE to do an extensive group read of this masterpiece. Many of us list it as one of our favorites. It is mine, second only to The Town House trilogy. Both of these seem to me to be the very best of NL's great works.

message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert | 63 comments I have been on a Norah Lofts binge !! Reading The Golden Fleece, The Town House, The House at Old Vine, The House at Sunset, and Bless This House justin the past month. It has been many years since I first read these books. I have fallen in love with NL's writing all over again. What an amazing story teller!

message 9: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments Have you read the Knight's Acre Trilogy, Robert? (Knight's Acre, The Homecoming, and The Lonely Furrow) You will enter the same world with those, too! Would you be willing to join into a discussion of BTH?

message 10: by Janice (new)

Janice Stein | 12 comments I will be starting Bless This House but am just on the very last of Bleak House. When are you going to begin reading BTH?


message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Hi Janice, no date set yet, I will ask around the board . So go ahead and start. Have you read it before ? Big treat in store!

message 12: by Janice (new)

Janice Stein | 12 comments No I have never read Bless This House but have read the Townhouse trilogy. Soooo good.

message 13: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments I read BTH a couple of months ago and would enjoy looking at it again, a little more deeply, and participate in a discussion of it.

message 14: by Robert (new)

Robert | 63 comments Sylvia, I have read Knight's Acre but don't think I have read the other two of that trilogy. I will have to follow up on that. Yes, I would like to join the discussion group on BTH.

message 15: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments You know, this could almost have been the idea for Merravey ...........


message 16: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments This manor house certainly changed hands a lot! If the photo represents only one fourth of the original manor, after John Penn demolished most of it, it must have been a huge "house". In the entry for 1724 - 1760, did you notice the name "Capability Brown"?

When I picture Merravay, I always see it in the shape of an E, which I believe was Jon's plan for the house in honor of Queen Elizabeth.

message 17: by Barbara (last edited Sep 16, 2013 12:17AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Yes, it was too big really to be Merravey, but right time and a bit like the same history. Merravey was an E shape , you are right. My corgi pb shows it thus along with Elizabeth and Tom in quite correct looking clothes and hair etc , so unusual.

( I have a , I think, Pan pb of LAU with the most awful cover , two attenuated creatures, apparently in a gale - well must be two gales as his cloak is blowing one way and her mass of scarlet hair and indescribable green garment the other. ...)

message 18: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments Tee hee, Barbara! Two gales blowing in opposite directions! My large print, pub. by Isis, has a great representation of Merravay, showing the E-shape. The middle part of the E looks almost like a tower because of its crenelated top. The top of the cover is also intriguing because of six faces, however, I haven't figured out who any of them are yet!

message 19: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments I reckon Jon , Eliz, Tom, maybe Phyllis Whymark and I wonder who else ......

message 20: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments I don't think I can do it, but will try to scan and post this picture. It would be fun to discuss who they are! Jon is not represented because three of the men look 40 years old or more. The youngest man looks about 30, and I assume he is Tom. He is wearing a ruff about 4 inches wide. One stern looking man is wearing a short, white wig. He might be a Turnbull. The women are both attractive and look stylish, so neither would be Phyllis, IMO. The illustrator was
Chris Brown.

message 21: by Barbara (last edited Sep 18, 2013 09:34PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Yes maybe a Turnbull. I was wondering if it might be the Indian nabob - Booth was his name? But he was a Victorian so too late for wig wearing . And Jon's uncle Francey too working class.
Could either of the women be Lady Alice? Pity no clothes to give us a hint!

message 22: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments Uncle Francis is definitely not represented. Both women appear to me to be later characters. One wears a bowler(?) type hat with small brim over stylish short hair and could pass for a 20th century woman. (copy on its way by snail mail. If anyone else wants a copy, email me at

message 23: by Robert (new)

Robert | 63 comments I have a feeling these are generic portraits, the artist may not even be familiar with the novel. Cynical? I guess.

message 24: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments I don't think you are cynical, Robert. I wondered it myself. The only encouragement on the subject (maybe NL's approval or her suggestions?) is that the house looks plausible as Merravay.

message 25: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Could the short-haired behatted woman be the last owner , ie the one who tried to make it a club and a restaurant and was ruined by the psychic who spread it about a that it was haunted? Mind you I always thought that would have added to a place's charm!

message 26: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments I considered it, too, Barbara. She fits well in the 20th century. But if that is the case, then there is no order at all to their positions. She is next to the ruffed man.

I could not be one of those adventurers who travel the world looking for haunted castles and other spots, but aren't there whole clubs of them?

message 27: by Barbara (last edited Sep 25, 2013 11:19PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Syb, got your lovely letter which I will reply to privately .

AND the enigmatic "6 people" cover to your Isis pb of BTH. I think as below, but could be dead wrong.

I agree with you that the man on the far left is Tom Rowhedge, (if portrayed a touch old, as we are told he died " untimely, gored by a bull" ) But I think the be-hatted person next to him is not a woman, but is Jon Borage himself; it looks like a rather effete youth to me, such as I imagine Jon to have been . The man next to him, ie the third from the left is a Cavalier/Restoration type don't you think? So maybe Charles ( Lady Alice's son) looking rather drawn and harassed, as well he might when you consider how the battles were going ! Next to him in wig and cravat, maybe Mr Roger the early slave abolitionist whom Luke Fulger killed...? The woman with the ringletted hair I'm more unsure of. Could it be Luella with whom Luke was in love ? Or maybe Olivia Sandell, the daughter of the awful Mr Sandell the Indian nabob. I'm sure the portrait on the far right is him.
The house looks beautiful just as I imagined it.

Below is my Flickr photostream, I have added the picture to it, I do hope the link works. (and that I haven't violated any copyright law!) I also added a copy of my Corgi pb cover , pretty obviously Tom and Elizabeth don't you think?

message 28: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments I am going to reserve any more thoughts about who's who on the Isis cover until I read BTH again! I am trying to picture the hatted one as Jon, but have to say that I never imagined him as that good looking. I did think he would be thin, and not heavily muscled, but at least he did rugged carpentry work.

I also have to admit that even though I've read this book at least 3 times, I have everybody confused after the first part. You're probably spot on, Barbara, but Robert might be right, too. Isis may have told the artist to paint characters from this, this, and this time period, and none of them represent anybody! LOL

message 29: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 1361 comments P.S. Thanks for posting those covers, Barbara. I agree with you about Tom and Elizabeth on the Corgi cover.

message 30: by Barbara (last edited Jul 25, 2015 07:53PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments John said in another thread , the murder one

" Jon is the deeply sympathetic foundational character whose sad story permeates Merravay through time"

I think that is lovely succinct observation don't you ? Thank you John, hope it was OK to copy your words here .

Merravey is one of my very favourites though I say that a lot about NL......

message 31: by John (new)

John (indyjohn) | 14 comments Barbara wrote: "John said in another thread , the murder one

" Jon is the deeply sympathetic foundational character whose sad story permeates Merravay through time"

I think that is lovely succinct observa..."

Thank you, Barabra, delighted you found it accurate and appreciate you saying so. It is wonderful to connect to others who appreciate NL after so many years of re-reading BTH and the Old Vine Triliolgy, her absolute best works I think. There has been something for me in these at every period in my life and she taught me something important to my work as an historian: nothing in the past is ever fully known by us in the present---we may think we know what happened or why but we only have part of the story.

message 32: by Barbara (last edited Aug 11, 2015 07:47PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1892 comments Thank you too John, we are SO delighted to have a new (and such an informed) member I can't tell you!!!!

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