Fishbourne, West Sussex
Place: Fishbourne, West Sussex
Book: The Taxidermist's Daughter
Author: Kate Mosse
Set in 1912, this haunting novel from Kate Moose is based in the county of West Sussex. From the blurb: 'A Sussex churchyard. Villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will not survive the coming year are thought to walk. And in the shadows, a woman lies dead. As the flood waters rise, Connie Gifford is marooned in a decaying house with her increasingly tormented father. He drinks to escape the past, but an accident has robbed her of her most significant childhood memories. Until the disturbance at the church awakens fragments of those vanished years...'
On a wet summer's day, we travelled to Fishbourne in West Sussex, right on the south coast of England to discover the area where this book was set.
Of course, when we visited during the day, the church and graveyard were not at all reminiscent of the ghostly setting in the book, but we could imagine the scene at nighttime. It must be very spooky and we wouldn't want to visit at that time.
As a book which has a real setting as opposed to an imagined one,
The Taxidermist's Daughter was very well linked to the area. We found that, when we visited the places mentioned in the novel, we felt like we already knew them. Mill Pond is found on pages 33, 87, and 145. It's a very marshy, wet area and this is portrayed extremely accurately in the novel. This adds to the spine-tingling atmosphere. But today, when we arrived at Mill pond, we were welcomed by some charming guests (the ducks!) - not at all worrisome.
We took a walk down Appledram Lane. Moose speaks of an Apuldram Lane in the story. (Pages 32, 36, 108, and136.) It seems too similar to be coincidental. Was this the name for this road way back in 1912 when the story was set?
Back up to the main road to visit the pubs that are mentioned in the book: The Bull's Head (see pages 49, 65,110, 112, and 199) and The Woolpack (pages 29, 52, and 65). The pub on the left looks quite different to how I imagine it must have looked back in 1912, but you can see that The Bull's Head may not have changed very much.
At Fishbourne there is a roman palace and gardens with a large display of mosaics. We didn't have time to visit and the palace wasn't mentioned in the book so we decided tomove on with our reading journey to Chichester, which was mentioned. (But what an interesting place to visit.)
Three miles along the A259 lies the cathedral city of Chichester. It is the only city in the county with a cathedral founded way back in the 11th century.
A pretty place with lots to do including galleries, theatres, museums, a canal, and even a planetarium.
The city is surrounded by countryside and has pretty fishing villages (such as Fishbourne) and sandy beaches to the south.
We had a lovely reading journey to West Sussex. If you are interested in further information regarding this area, you can take a look here:
We started where the book starts: at the church of St Peter and St Mary.
This is a Grade 2 listed building and definitely has a certain charm. Visiting this church as our first port of call was the best idea. We just love churches and this one is very quaint. It was so calming walking around and taking a look.Surrounded by trees on the edges of this plot, the church is very secluded and feels remote. The trees hid Connie during the first scene and we hung back to begin with, as she must have done.
There are meadows in front of the church - you can just see here the church in the background. There seem to be many walks in the area where you can explore the beautiful expansive Sussex countryside.
We took a walk back down to Mill Lane (as mentioned on pages 32, 52, and 167) in search of Mill Pond.