The Music Room
combines the author's experiences growing up in a castle,
and his memories of his brother who suffered ongoing brain damage
due to epileptic seizures. Interspersed are vignettes relating to the history and science of "the sacred disease" (as epilepsy
was dubbed by the ancient Greeks). Fiennes' prose is both evocative and somewhat
elegiac as he shares his love of both his home and his brother.
Fiennes deftly relates the simple activities of his somewhat rarified childhood
such as learning to ride a bicycle in the Great Hall, the elation of
catching his first pike in the moat, and his onetime fear of a cobwebbed room full of ancient armor. These
passages are great fun and fire the reader's imagination.
He also relates the many ways his parents struggled to support the
property, with strangers frequently traipsing through the...
Beyond the Book
The unnamed location of William Fiennes' memoir is Broughton Castle, a
medieval manor house near the village of Broughton, two miles southwest of
Banbury, in the county of Oxfordshire, England.
The estate is situated at the confluence of three streams, making it an ideal
location for a fortified manor house complete with moat. No one is sure when the
first building was constructed at the site, but parts of the current structure
date to around 1300 CE, when Sir John de Broughton II began developing it.
The property was sold in 1377 to William of Wykeham (Bishop of Winchester;
Chancellor of England;...