...but not just any house. This is Cholmondeley Castle near Malpas in Cheshire and it's the home of the Dowager Marchioness of Cholmondeley.
I first saw the Castle during Coronation year when I was a kid of eight and my aunt, uncle and cousin went to live there. No, Uncle Arthur was not the Marquess of Cholmondeley, he was his butler. He landed this dream job in 1953 and they moved from Delamere to Cholmondeley and took up residence in the Castle.
I vividly recall our first visit. I was eight years old, my sister was a little older and our auntie met us from the train at Chester Station and from there we rode on the once-weekly Crosville bus to Cholmondeley. It was a long walk from the gatehouse up the drive, through the impressive ornamental gates until the Castle came into view. Oh wow, what a place! And my auntie, uncle and cousin lived here.
Their flat was jaw-droppingly magnificent to kids who were more used to a council house or a worker's cottage on the edge of the forest. I remember stepping inside the vast bedroom which we kids were going to share during our stay, and saying to my sister and cousin, 'You could fit Gran's house in this room!' And that was probably little exaggeration.
I spent lots of happy times during school holidays at Cholmondeley and for me it is one of the defining places of Cheshire. My Cheshire. As much so as the forest. Little wonder, then, that when I came to write The Snig's Foot, Tom Sparrow, my lead character, should have an aunt and uncle living in a stately home. They are not based upon my folks, not even close. And Ringwood Hall, my fictional stately home, isn't anything like Cholmondeley Castle. In fact, here it is. Well, something like it, lifted out of its far from rural setting in Salford:
This is Ordsall Hall and it's much as I envisage the big house in my story.