“Some of you may know a town called Rye. In that town is a narrow cobbled street…Mermaid Street, and an old haunted house built by an astrologer.”
So begins Joan Aiken’s story A Jar of Cobblestones, soon to appear in a new Virago collection “The Gift Giving” which includes many that she set in her favourite places.
She wrote of these stories:
” I like to revisit them from time to time…like going back to stay in a house or piece of country that one has known since childhood…”
And one house in particular has appeared in many of her works – Jeake’s House, named after the Jeake family and the astrologer Samuel Jeake who invented a flying machine, and is said to have tried it out, off the high walls of the town of Rye.
“The machine crashed but he escaped. Whether there was a mermaid on board I can’t say, but he did live in the house halfway down Mermaid Street.
I know because I was born in it.”
Coming from Virago Modern Classics in November
Illustrated by Peter Bailey
…and if you ever visit Rye and would like to stay in Jeake’s House yourself you can, but don’t expect ghosts –
these days it is a very comfortable hotel!