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The Legend of Alice's House



 

One of Wizard's Thatch's most interesting buildings is the one known locally as Alice's House.  No-one really knows where this name came from or how it stuck to the building that is otherwise and more properly known as 13 Regent Street.

Regent Street, in Wizard's Thatch, is full of interesting buildings but Alice's House is surely the most interesting of them all. Built in the early 1540's and expanded through the 17th and 18th centuries to become the building that we now love so much.

Originally built as a staging post and tavern in the 16th century, the building gradually became the largest coaching inn in the south west, easily surpassing all of its rivals, throughout the 17th and most of the 18th centuries.  By the late 1700's however, the building had become a private house for members of the Bombay family who needed a town house in which to stay whilst conducting business in town. The property is still owned by them to this day, although they no longer live there.

Some speculate that the name Alice's House was first used by a little girl who saw the building and said it looked like the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, and there is no doubt that due to poor foundations and subsidence the building has settled in the middle giving it the appearance of a grin.  But there is another, slightly more sinister theory linked to the building's history.

Sometime in the later years of Queen Victoria's reign, Joseph and Annalisa Bombay moved into the house shortly after their wedding.  The house had been empty and unloved for some years and the young married couple breathed new life into the building.  Of course, being a member of one of the wealthiest families in the country meant that money was no object and Joseph freely and lavishly spent on the property to make it a suitable family home for his young wife and their future children.

Joseph turned the whole of the ground floor into a library and parlour for himself where he could conduct business; he sold antiques and curios, while the rest of the Elizabethan property was beautifully restored.  Sure enough, as soon as it was finished, Annalisa discovered that she was expecting their first child.

The whole town rejoiced, because Joseph and Annalisa were a friendly and likeable couple who went out of their way to help the locals (unlike most of the rest of the Bombay family!).

It was an uneasy pregnancy, and Annalisa suffered terribly becoming increasingly paranoid that the house was out to get her.

Joseph did his best to reassure his young wife, but everyone noticed that even he was beginning to be affected by the strains of his wife's pregnancy.  He began to have a haunted look with large shadows under his eyes.  He started to avoid the neighbours, and everyone thought it was just that he was having sleepless nights looking after his increasingly disturbed wife.

Then, on All Hallows Eve in 1887, Annalisa gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter, and they named her Alice.

It was like a spell had been lifted.  The house that had seemed so gloomy for so long was now filled with laughter, and Alice's smile lit up every room she went into.  Annalisa and Joseph went back to being the happy and devoted couple that they were before they were expecting. And Alice was loved by everyone that met her.  They were so happy and content that people believed they were truly blessed.

Then one terrible night, just after Alice's 13th birthday, on New Year's Eve - during the worst thunderstorm anyone could remember ever happening in Wizard's Thatch - a piercing scream rent the town's streets.  People woke from their slumbers convinced that they had had a nightmare.  And then the scream came again, even more piercing than before.

The townspeople tumbled out of their beds and into the streets. "Where could the screams be coming from?" they wondered. And then they heard it again, for a third and final time. It was coming from number 13 Regent Street.

They hurried over and ponded on the door but there was no reply.  The town's blacksmith, Quentin Decker, broke down the door and the townspeople rushed in.

The house was eerily silent. Quentin called out, but there was no reply - it was absolutely silent, almost preternaturally so.  They searched the house, but it was completely empty, no one could be found anywhere at all.  But that wasn't the strangest thing, for not only had Joseph, his wife and daughter vanished, but so had all of their belongings, books, furniture, clothes - even Alice's toys - everything had gone.

Except for one thing.

In Alice's bedroom, on the floor, was a long bladed knife and it was covered in blood.