The House of Fiction

By Phyllis Richardson

A cultural exploration of British houses in fiction from Shandy Hall to Manderley

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Grand at Folkestone, H G Wells and Spade House

Hello, everyone, and thanks again to all of you for supporting the book. I know it seems to be going slowly but there are new supporters every day, which is really fantastic. Please do pass on the link when you think of anyone else who might be interested in having a look.

I spent the weekend on some literary house searching with my friend Rachel in Folkestone. We took a trip up to the Grand, and the Metropole on top of the cliffside, on the Leas. Great Edwardian hotels notorious for accommodating Edwardian businessmen and their mistresses. The Grand featured the first sprung dance floor and was opened by the King, Edward VII, who 'danced the first dance with the Queen and the second with Mrs Keppel'. Classy.

We were searching for Spade House, which H.G. Wells had built for himself. It's a lovely Arts and Crafts house designed by the great C.F.A. Voysey and built in 1901. John Galsworthy was among his visitors there, as well as other literary figures. Sadly, the house has been turned into a nursing home and the rooms divided up. We were only allowed to see into the basement floor. There were still some nice details, the wonderful paned windows and the decorative fireplaces are still intact, as well as the coved ceilings. But we couldn't go upstairs to the main rooms. It's in a lush secluded spot on the cliffside in a neighbourhood of some other rather magnificent Arts and Crafts houses which tell you something about what the area must have been like 100 years ago.

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