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The Manor at Hemingford Grey
The Manor at Hemingford Grey

Exploring The Manor at Hemingford Grey

by Blue Firth, founder of Dohm Ceramics


Nestled between Somewhere and the A1, south of Peterborough, is probably the prettiest house I have ever seen. It has everything that a perfect house should have—parts that date from the 1100s, Tudor appendages, and some sections that burnt down in a fire. I also know it to be haunted, which was the main reason for my visit. But what I didn’t know was that visiting it would be a life-affirming time-slip, with a tour led by the most captivating lady.


The Manor at Hemingford Grey is known as the house from the children’s books and TV series ‘The Children of Green Knowe’. It was the home of writer Lucy Boston, who based the house in the books on the Manor itself. As a child of the 80s, I didn’t read the books but loved the TV show, where a young boy goes to stay with his great-grandmother in a magical house and befriends the spirits who live there. The whole concept is basically a precursor to the beloved recent BBC show ‘Ghosts’.


Peter Boston Illustration
Peter Boston Illustration

But this visit, which began as a cream tea ghost hunt, soon turned into an incredibly intimate and moving history lesson, as told by Lucy Boston’s daughter-in-law, Diana. The approach from the path by the River Ouse was peppered with topiary and drenched in irises alongside angelica, granny’s bonnet, astrantia, and lady’s mantle. The colours were wild. Lucy had worked on the garden with renowned horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas.


Daily tours start at 2 pm, and a small group gathered outside the lean-to door eagerly awaited Diana, who materialised and held court with the ease of an expert storyteller. The list of wonders we encountered was endless: Lucy Boston’s quilts, seen through a chink in the curtain to prevent bleaching (this was a real highlight and privilege); numerous works by Elizabeth Vellacott (whose artwork appears in nearby Kettle’s Yard); a hair embroidery of Burleigh House (if I remember correctly); potato-printed counter curtains with sequins; and stone mullioned windows. When we entered Diana’s bedroom, she quickly hid some underwear from the top of the bed, reminding me this wasn’t a prim, tidy, or stately affair, but a masterclass in how to live with history.


I don’t want to give too much away as everyone should visit this perfect setting. Textile enthusiasts will gasp, and Green Knowe buffs will snort with glee at the rocking horse and Toby’s wooden mouse. In the Norman part of the house (only accessible from a wardrobe door in the bedroom), Diana recounted the time when Lucy invited airmen to take some solace in her home and listen to records. As Diana cranked up an enormous gramophone and we all sat in stone alcoves and makeshift sofas, tears ran down my face at the overwhelming presence of every timeline in the house converging. It was a total time shift. In other words, it was my perfect bank holiday. As we walked away, sad that the magic was fading, Diana called out, “Tell all your friends about us!” and I imagined windows full of enchanted toys and years of ghosts, old and new, waving and dancing to the crackling 78s as we made our way back up the A1.




The Manor at Hemingford Grey
The Manor at Hemingford Grey

The Gramophone The Manor at Hemingford Grey
The Gramophone

Hemingford Manor
Hemingford Manor

Manor at Hemingford Grey
Manor at Hemingford Grey

Manor at Hemingford Grey
Manor at Hemingford Grey

Manor at Hemingford Grey
Manor at Hemingford Grey

Manor at Hemingford Grey
Manor at Hemingford Grey

Manor at Hemingford Grey
Manor at Hemingford Grey

Manor at Hemingford Grey
Tobys Mouse

Manor at Hemingford Grey
Lean To Entrance

The Manor Garden, Hemingford Grey
The Manor Garden, Hemingford Grey

The Manor Garden, Hemingford Grey
The Manor Garden, Hemingford Grey

The Manor Garden, Hemingford Grey
The Manor Garden, Hemingford Grey

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