Searching for an “almost but not quite real” residence for the main character of the Table Rappers series, has finally proved fruitful.
Much like the famous 221B Baker St. address of Sherlock Holmes, I wanted a believable, yet not actual, address for Keynes. After internet, Google Maps and now an on-foot search through London streets, Keynes has a new home.
[aside]a church directly at one end, opening into a square, complete with enclosed park[/aside]
In the first book, Persistent Spirit, Keynes’ home is deliberately left as something of a mystery. There are a few clues sprinkled through the story, general references to areas of London “within easy walking distance” of his home, but nothing that absolutely pin-points a location. Why? Because I wanted Keynes to be in the process of moving house at the start of the second book.
Google Satellite and Street views have been invaluable, saving me multiple trips to London – which can be tricky and costly from way down here in darkest Cornwall – and enabling me to narrow down possibilities to less than a handful of streets.
I wanted the street to be in or around London’s West End, ideally Marylebone and Paddington area. I also wanted there to still be Victorian or Edwardian buildings there, not some modern office or apartment block. In addition, I hoped to have it near a church, near an enclosed park plus somewhere that had places to eat and drink at the time he moved-in, in early November 1902.
By the time I found myself in London this past weekend, I had managed to pinpoint a single street that fulfilled every one of the above criteria.
A visit was vital
After some leg-work and a brief cab ride, the street proved to be ideal. A short street, with only sixteen numbered buildings, a church directly at one end, opening into a square, complete with enclosed park, at the other end.
The houses in that street, however, were not quite right. Their age was certainly appropriate, but something about them did not feel quite right for my character. I wanted to use an actual building as the basis for external descriptions, but that building need not be in that precise geographical location.
I hunted nearby streets. I was not surprised to find the houses surrounding the enclosed park were too grand for my character. Much larger doors and entrances, clearly housing more wealthy families.
Rapidly running out of time, I decided to head back to the tube station and leave the specific house hunt for another day. Then, just off the square, I saw it! Not only was it ideal in its design and construction, but was a corner plot – essential – and oriented correctly to be “relocated” to my chosen street.
So where is it?
I’m not telling – not yet anyway. If you know the area well, you might recognise the church at least. But for now, until the second book is complete, the precise address will remain a mystery.
I still have one more very specific property to hunt out, which is likely to prove elusive from my initial searches. Some of the events in Persistent Spirit already take place in this Chelsea property near the Thames. But by the look of development in recent years, there are no longer any hint of Victorian properties in that particular area. Even an exact choice of road will prove very difficult. But, that is not absolutely required until the third book, The House of Mrs. Benson, so I have a little time yet!