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An Uncle I never knew.

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Last summer I was staying with my uncle Major General Sir Randal Fielden at his Oxfordshire home, Barton Manor. Having lived in the city all my life it was a great change to be staying in a rambling old house in the country. The invitation from Uncle Randy to stay came out of the blue. Though he was my mother's brother he was estranged from the family and I hardly knew he existed. His name was never mentioned. You can imagine that I was filled with excitement at the prospect of meeting such a mysterious person. The train stopped at Combe Station and I got a taxi to the house. Strangely the driver stopped at the gate and refused to take me up the long drive way to the house. He would give me no reason, so I had to struggle with my heavy case for the half mile journey. The house keeper opened the door to me and showed me into the drawing room. ...read more.


There were so many interesting characters to talk to. George, the head gardener was full of stories about life in the old days and how when he was a boy there were lots of gardeners but now only himself and one other. However when I mentioned the West Wing to him he fell silent and sombre. My curiosity about the West Wing was reaching fever pitch. First there was the taxi driver who left me at the gate, then there was my Uncle saying it was out of bounds and now George refusing to talk about it. I decided to take a closer look when everyone was at lunch. Although the windows were all shuttered, below the ground level there were cellars, one of which had a broken shutter. I jumped down and found to my surprise that I could lift up the sash window and push open the shutter. I clambered or more truthfully fell in. The cellar was cold, dark and empty. Fortunately my mobile phone has a torch attachment. ...read more.


At dinner, Uncle suddenly said to me "I never married and I have no children. I inherited Barton Manor from my father who before he died told me the story of the West Wing. In my will I have bequeathed this property to you, being my only male nephew." My mouth dropped in amazement. Was I dreaming all this? My uncle continued, "As my father revealed the secret to me so I must do so to you before I die. In the sixteenth century my ancestor offended the king and was banished from the realm. However he came back secretly and lived in a hidden, sealed up room in the West Wing with his favourite dog. A faithful servant passed him food and drink everyday through a narrow opening hidden in the wall. No one knew this except the servant. Several years went by and then one day the servant died. There was no one that knew about my relative or the dog and they were left to die slowly of starvation. Their skeletons were found years later and they were given a Christian burial. However no one could face living in the West Wing after that and it was sealed up forever. ...read more.

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