I’ve told many of my Stonewylde readers about my next project, which is an historical novel set on the Isle of Portland during the Civil War. But in the meantime, I’ve started writing an adventure book for 9 – 12 year olds. I have actually written the first chapter (always the hardest part in my opinion) but I needed more information. The book (which could potentially be a series) is set on the Fleet in Dorset, the setting for John Meade Falkner’s wonderful classic Moonfleet.
So on Easter Sunday, Mr B and I set off to spend the day exploring the area. It’s amazingly beautiful!
|The Fleet, with Chesil Beach in the background|
I read Moonfleet as a child and really enjoyed re-reading it recently. Falkner used quite a lot of artistic licence in describing the village and surrounding area. He wrote the book at the end of the 19th Century, but set it during the 18th Century, before the Great Storm of 1824 which destroyed several houses in the village of Fleet, and a large part of the church. Visiting Fleet today (both east, west and in the middle) there’s very little there in terms of buildings. But I’d already decided that I’d be inventing my own places for my books, not wanting anyone to think I’d used their house as inspiration!
|Moonfleet Manor in the distance|
The name Moonfleet is in fact J M Falkner’s invention – the body of water is known as the Fleet (from a Saxon word) and the tiny hamlet is of the same name. For several generations the land was owned by the Mohune family (around the time of the Civil War – so this is very relevant to my adult novel!) and Falkner amalgamated Mohune Fleet into Moonfleet. The house was originally known as Fleet House, but has since been renamed Moonfleet Manor (far more romantic) and is now a hotel. We started off our day with a coffee in the lounge. It’s absolutely wonderful there, despite the poor stuffed animals – a legacy of a bygone era when hunting exotic animals was considered perfectly acceptable. I wish we could afford to stay at the hotel, but the coffee was lovely and maybe one day we’ll splash out and treat ourselves.
|One of the lounges at Moonfleet Manor|
|The buttressed wall at Moonfleet Manor|
|A beach on the Fleet – waterbird’s nesting ground?|
|There were many rowing boats – all other types banned|
|We were careful not to knock it over! Too windy outside the boot.|
|All that’s left of the original church – a peaceful spot|
|The Isle of Portland in the distance, across the Fleet|