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Ghosts


Strange quirks of history

THE TALISMAN OF POPE BORGIA

  I have always had a weak spot for Pope Alexandre VI Borgia. History has smeared his name with horrid deeds; but I suspect that such a campaign was led in part by protestant propaganda. I had shared this theory with my youngest daughter Olga who was given zero for writing it in her homework….

THE MUSIC-LOVING GHOST

On a Paris-Krakow flight, I ran into one of my favourite cousins, Crista. I asked her where she is going. Her husband, she told me, is a graduate of ESCI, the Business school in Fontainebleau. The students in his class had decided to go on a trip to Poland with their wives, the highlight of…

THE JOKESTER GHOST OF TAOS

  About twenty years ago, we visited the very beautiful city of Taos in New Mexico. We stayed at Luan House, which had been turned into a hotel. It was a magnificent villa built in the regional style popular during the 1920s and 1930s by an American art patron millionaire, Mabel Dodge. Everyone of any…

THE MAGICIAN’S CHAMBERMAID

  Over twenty years ago, Marshal Alan Brooke’s descendants invited me to their castle in Northern Ireland. Theirs was a courageous and enterprising household; they had decided to restore the family domain and open it to the public. They were endearing, welcoming, intelligent and warm. The surprising thing is that I cannot remember the name…

hampton-court-front-castle- England-HenriVIII-Cardinal Wolsey-Prince Michael Chronicles.com

THE SOUND AND LIGHT OF CARDINAL WOLSEY

Hampton Court is by far one of the most beautiful English royal palaces. The greater part of it was built during the 17th century by the royal couple William and Mary. The English baroque style offers a majestic splendour, truly royal facades, balance, and an extraordinary harmony, but the origins of this sumptuous castle are…

THE GHOST OF THE LAST TSAR

While I was writing my book on Russian Imperial Palaces, we dined, my editor and I, in Saint Petersburg with a handful of curators from the Hermitage. As always, a Russian-style diner, very joyful with lots of drinking, and, also in Russian-style, the conversation soon fell onto one of their favourite subject: ghosts. And so…

A Shadowy Affair ( final part)

I found the Marquis and the Marquise, cheerful and welcoming, in an 18th century living room on the ground floor in which were hung beautiful, family portraits. I hastened to accept the port and the cheese sticks that were offered me. It seemed, at least, that the ghost had not managed to leave his mark…

A Shadowy Affair (part 2)

I felt the cloud thicken. I felt that I had fallen victim to a disease – at the time there so many about which we knew nothing. So the conviction was born inside me that I was to die young. All this is an image, you understand, but I imagined finding myself in the middle…

“A Shadowy Affair” ( Part 1)

Castle Beaumont La Ronce “This is my best friend’s parents’ castle,” my lovely little niece, Adelaide, told me, “It is haunted by a great lady who was murdered over questions of money. Those who were arrested and executed for the crime were, however, innocent and the true assassins were allowed to escape for they had…

Zaraus

A secret scandal: Zaraus part II

« In an old and lost time a great sage lived here, a man of knowledge and kindness. Seduced by the beauty and serenity of the place he came to settle here. He built a hermitage and every day through his prayer spread his blessing on this deserted site. After his death a few monks…