One of the pleasures of writing The Painted Bridge was the excuse it provided to explore old houses and gardens. The novel is set mainly in Lake House, a crumbling mansion on the edge of London. In November 1859, when the story begins, Lake House has been in use for two generations as a private asylum.
The grounds are an important aspect of the world of the novel. It is a wintry world, in which heroine Anna Palmer and her fellow patients are mainly confined indoors but occasionally get outside to take the air.
The walled garden at Quex House on the Kent coast has just the atmosphere I imagine for the one at Lake House. Beautiful, somewhat dilapidated, with a sense of stillness broken by the cries of birds, the sudden passage of a cat. It was lovely to find the garden at Quex open this week, and be able to see it in its February state.