top of page

The Legend of Childer's Forest : A Spooky Tale For All Ages 📖


The Legend of Childer's Forest. The latest in the Crazy Cream Adventure Series.

It won't be long until The Legend of Childer's Forest is released. After all the hard work that's gone into writing and illustrating this, I am very excited about it finally being 'out there' for you all to read and - hopefully - enjoy. 🙂

 

The Legend of Childer's Forest is much deeper and darker than the others in the Crazy Cream Adventure series. It took a lot more researching and brainstorming with my editor. All in all, I enjoyed working on Legend so much. One of the things I love most about plot building is when those lightbulb moments appear - when one thread seems to naturally weave into another. It's like a natural evolution of the story - and there were plenty of those moments in Legend! In this blog, I want to share with you what inspired me to write this story.

 

Inspiration.

There were many areas of inspiration behind the book. The first was when the field opposite my house was sold to builders and turned into houses. These homes look lovely, but at the time I couldn't help but feel a little sad. It had once been a field where families of rabbits would play.


In spring, the field was awash with daffodils. My small study - where I shut myself away to work on my books - faces this field and I used to enjoy watching the rabbits leap and spin in the air. So yes, I was sad to hear that the field would be no more. It seemed I wasn't the only one who thought this, though.

As I chatted with my neighbour one morning, she told me that her son had been concerned about the building work and said to her,

'What about the rabbits?'

... Yes, indeed, what about them? That was the first inspiration - the initial seed had been planted...


The inspirational forest 🌿

Next, there's the forest. I walk my dogs around the forest every day. It's a beautiful place and, during holidays, it gets very busy with families and cyclists. It's easy to see why because it's so pretty and relaxing - the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

There's something therapeutic about walking through the forest in the morning, hearing nothing but the birds singing. An added bonus for me is seeing my dogs - or 'The Girls' as I call them - running and playing - they're so happy! Yet, this beauty spot has a flip side too. During the foggy wintery months, the forest is deathly quiet and eerie. Everything is so still and the trees and bushes are just ominous dark shapes. It could be the perfect scene from a classic horror movie.

How can the same place appear so different?

That's the beauty of the forest.

 

Another seed of inspiration was history. I've read so many books on the subject and watched countless programmes. I do have a favourite historian, though. Dan Jones. Gone are the days when you'd read heavy books on the subject, reeling off names and dates. Dan Jones, Alison Roberts and Suzannah Lipscomb are just a few of the new wave of historians whom I love listening to. They bring the whole subject to life. And yet, finding out that key moments in history happened on your very doorstep takes the whole interest to another level - and that's exactly what happened to me.



One day, I was reading about the English Civil War. I hadn't read much about King Charles II, 'The Merry Monarch' before, so decided to find out more about him. In 1651, following the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Worcester, Charles Stuart fled from the parliamentarians. Imagine my surprise when I learned that he, and a small band of trusted soldiers, made their escape through the very place where I live! Just imagine, they could have passed through places I've probably taken the girls for their daily walks. However, instead of a leisurely stroll, Charles was running for his life. Finding this out, added another dimension to my love and fascination of both history and the forest. I'll quickly tell you now, what I discovered and what ultimately led to what would become The Legend of Childer's Forest...

 

King Charles I was not a popular King. So unpopular that he became the first and thankfully only English monarch to be executed. Charles' political views and unwillingness to negotiate, did not go down well with his people (for more information read about his personal rule - or, as known by his enemies: the eleven-year tyranny). And so rose Oliver Cromwell, a man who had a natural ability to command. However unpopular Charles became, to be executed was a horrific outcome and something his loved ones would have carried with them for the rest of their lives. All this came to a head (pardon the pun) in January 1649 when King Charles I was beheaded at Whitehall. His family then fled into exile.

 

In 1651, Charles Stuart, Charles I's eldest son, sailed to Scotland. With support from the Scotts, he led what is known as the Second Civil War. This culminated in the Battle of Worcester which saw Charles and his army defeated. There's a memorial near Powick Bridge, in remembrance to the thousands of Scots slaughtered during the battle.

Charles escaped via St. Martin's Gate with a small group of soldiers, which included the Earl of Derby, Lord Wilmot, Major Carless and Charles Giffard. And so began Charles' six-week run as fugitive. Charles' journey started from Worcester and ended in Shoreham where he boarded a ship to France.

The outset of this famous route saw him travel through places I've known since childhood and others I still pass through today. Their first stop was Ombersely where they rested and took refreshment at an Inn which has since been renamed The King's Arms (there are similarities to this scene in The Legend of Childer's Forest).

Shortly afterwards, Charles travelled to Whiteladies Priory and then one mile further, to the Boscobel Estate. This estate was owned by one of his companions, Charles Giffard. It was whilst hiding at Boscobel that Charles - accompanied by Colonel William Carless - hid in an oak tree from the pursuing Parliamentarians. Boscobel House still stands to this day and is managed by the English Heritage. On their website, there is an interesting piece about Charles and Major Carless. It also includes a quote from Charles, some 30 years later, where he talks about that moment to Samuel Pepys :

he told me that it would be very dangerous either to stay in the house or go into the wood (there being a great wood hard by Boscobel) and he knew but one way how to pass all the next day and that was to get up into a great oak in a pretty plain place where we could see round about us for they would certainly search all the wood for people that had made their escape. … [We] got up into a great oak that had been lopped some 3 or 4 years before and so was grown out very bushy and thick not to be seen through. And there we sat all the day.

There is much about Major Carless (also known as, Colonel Carlos, Carles and Carlis) that inspired me to create the character, Captain Childer. William Carless was born in Brewood, Staffordshire, in 1610 and died in London, in 1689. Once Charles Stuart was crowned King Charles II of England, he awarded those who helped him escape - including Carless. Carless was granted a coat of arms, granted proceeds of tax on hay and straw brought into London and Westminster, and made Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber. He lived in Worcestershire with his family and is buried in the ancient market town of Brewood, in Staffordshire.


My research unearthed so many other fascinating people who helped Charles escape. One in particular, is Jane Lane. She met Charles through her brother, Colonel John Lane. The Colonel sheltered Charles at his home, Bentley Hall near Walsall. Jane and her servant had been granted a pass to travel to Shoreham to visit a friend - the perfect opportunity for Charles to escape. Charles joined Jane disguised as her servant, William Jackson. Jane was described as having "an acute wit", "an excellent disputant" though "no beauty". Jane's loyalty and bravery were rewarded by the King. He granted her an annual pension of a thousand pounds, presents such as a portrait of the King and a lock of his hair, and the right to have three lions added to the family coat of arms.

 

And finally...


Poppy during her first walk to the forest 🐾

The last inspiration: 'My Girls'. This is Poppy and Devon, my golden retrievers. They've loved the forest since day one. When Poppy was only three and a half months old, we took her for her first walk around the forest. And so began her love affair with the place. She's loved the forest in all weathers, come rain or shine. She gets so excited that it's impossible not to laugh as she zooms up and down the footpaths. When she sees someone, she stops and refuses to move until they've come over and said hello. What can I say? Poppy is the friendliest dog I've ever known. She just loves life! And now, with Devon by her side, the two of them get up to all sorts of adventures.



So now you know the inspiration behind The Legend of Childer's Forest. It's been a lot of fun knitting all this together into one story. The Legend of Childer's Forest will be available to buy from Amazon, my website www.gillianyoungauthor.com and Wyre Forest Books , in just a few week's time. I'll post more info between now and then, but for now, here's the bookblurb:

Poppy, the cream-golden retriever, returns with her younger sister, Devon, in another crazy cream adventure. When a family of rabbits are driven from their home, Poppy and Devon make it their mission to help. Their quest takes them to Childer’s Forest, a place steeped in myth and legend. But when the safety of their ‘hooman’ brother, Jack, is also threatened, Poppy and Devon call upon the famous Legend of Childer’s Forest for help.

Gill x


Comments


bottom of page