Creative Writing – The Crown House

Unfortunately, the Creative Writing Group closed last year due to insufficient membership. However, one of our exercises was when Janet Gibson, our Group Organiser, put a pile of estate agents’ flyers on the table, asked us to choose a property and write something about that property that no-one else knew. As soon as I saw the photo of the Crown House, North Muskham, I knew I had to write about that one. I did a bit of research on its history and came up with the following; hope you like it! Sandra Green

The Crown House, North Muskham

“Oh, ‘ere we go agin!” Josiah thought to himself, as the estate agent’s car pulled up outside. He watched from the bedroom window as the estate agent got busy erecting yet another “For Sale” sign by the front wall. The day before someone had pushed a newspaper through the letterbox and he had spotted the estate agent’s description of the property. He had continued to read the newspaper. “A stunning and high-quality conversion of a former public house” he sneered as he read it. “High quality living room, four bedrooms, three bathrooms” he continued. “Huh, why would anybody need three bathrooms”?

He remembered a time when you were lucky to have a water closet in the back yard, never mind three bathrooms! He drifted off in thought, reminiscing about the former public house in which he was standing. He remembered its original maze of tiny cluttered rooms, linked together by an uneven passageway, the slabs of which had been worn smooth by the metal-studded boots of ploughboys calling in for a thirst-quenching pint of ale on their way home from the fields.

“Landscaped gardens” he had continued to read. “’Twer a cobbled backyard then, wi a small lean-to against the owd back wall” he said to himself. Beyond the back wall there had been a field where Silas the Shire horse chomped his way across the grass. Half-hidden at the far end had been the old plough that Silas had pulled across many a local field, ploughing furrows ready for the farmer to set his seeds. That old plough now stood in newly-painted splendour in the middle of the village green, with a neat but vibrantly colourful border of flowers set around it.

He chuckled to himself. He wondered if the incomers knew about the house’s secret history. In 1597 ten local plough boys had been summoned before a court after a vicar complained because they had ploughed up his churchyard. They had done that in response to the vicar’s disapproval of a Mummers’ play, which they had performed for beer money and to cheer up the villagers after Christmas. The plough boys had appeared in court in their costumes and the judge allowed them to continue the tradition saying, “The plough boys have an ancient right to do this and nobody can stop them. This goes back to fundamental English rights to do as you please as a free-born Englishman.”
Some months later that same vicar had disappeared from the area. Some people said he had gone to another parish to hide his embarrassment at losing the case. Others wondered if something more sinister had happened. Only the ploughboys knew what had occurred.

One drunken night at The Crown, the vicar had been lured inside on some pretext or another and in the resulting melee he had received a stunning blow to the head whilst being shoved along the narrow-slabbed passage. Only Josiah and the plough knew where he was now and every year Josiah marvelled at the wonderful display of flowers on the village green, which seemed to thrive better there than anywhere else in the village. It was Josiah’s ghostly destiny to return on the anniversary of that event, just to make sure that everything was still neat and tidy……and so it was!

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