I have written about the ‘dream’ house before but recently the mystery of it took an unexpected leap forward.
I am a small child running through the countryside when I arrive at what appears to be a derelict house. At least I always assumed it was derelict for the two windows looked as if they had silted up and instead of being full length they were only one-third of their normal height.
The windows are at the back of the house but initially I approached it from the front. There is a long driveway and as I run around a bend suddenly there, in front of me, is the house. It is huge but very symmetrical – just as a small child would draw one if asked. No sooner have I seen it than, in that typical disjointed dream way, I am around the back by the windows.
I manage to wriggle through one of them and as I do I fall a short distance to the floor. It is a small circular room with several doors leading off it; as I stand up I lift my head to look at the ceiling: it has stone vaulting just like an abbey might be. And then … I wake up. I don’t feel scared, I feel happy and warm inside as if I’ve come home after a long time away.
The dream recurs regularly from my very early childhood right through to the day in my late twenties when I awake and for some reason decide to draw the house. No matter how hard I try, I can only draw it as a small child might but, somehow in doing so, I break the spell and I never dream of the house again.
Fast forward fifteen years and a career change to gardening for a living. Now a trained Head Gardener I apply for a post in a village I have never heard of and arriving for my interview I proceed up a long, half mile driveway, round a bend and, yes you’ve guessed correctly, there is the house of my dream. I am shown around the gardens and finally, at the end of the interview, approach the house from the rear. There are the two windows…
Having successfully got the job, part of my remit is to tend the house plants. The room with the two windows is a small circular library with three doors leading off. When I pluck up the courage to talk to my employer of the dream she tells me that the house was once a convent and this room is adjacent to the old chapel, now used as a dining room. As for the vaulted ceiling she says there could be for the present plain one is false although they have no intention of changing it to find out. I ask her what the tall obelisk at the front of the house commemorates. She tells me it is rather a sad story: it is a memorial to the only son of the family for whom the house was being built in the early 1700’s. He died before it could be completed and so they gave it to the nuns to live there.
I officially left the job – and I thought the house – thirteen years ago to take up a new position in the Cotswolds. In many ways I was sad to go for I loved being there but a change had beckoned. Some months later I receive a telephone call asking me to act as a consultant on an occasional basis – is it the house that has prompted this – and I have returned regularly ever since.
Move to the present day after a gap in visits of several months where I admire the new building set in the grounds close to the house, an indoor swimming pool. I am told that there were a number of problems in completing the work for when they started digging the builders dropped into an underground room. Its existence had not been known of before and yes, you’ve guessed correctly, it had a stone vaulted ceiling…
Reincarnation or coincidence – I’ll leave you to decide. I’m happy either way and if it is reincarnation I am delighted with the obelisk that has been placed in my memory. I shan’t be asking for it to be taken down just because I’ve returned…