Behind Closed Doors

Reading & Writing

There can be nothing worse than giving a talk on a sweltering day; these things so often take place in windowless rooms. So yesterday I was pleased to be about to address the Margery Allingham Society in the University Women’s Club, Audley Square. I’m always amazed how many nondescript London doors hide beautiful private clubs, and this one is no exception. No. 2 Audley Square was built in 1876 for Lord Arthur Russell on the site of the house in which his parents lived from 1850 to 1874. The house remained in the family until sold to the Club. It is reputed to have been used by Dorothy L. Sayers in ‘The Story of the Haunted Policeman’ as the model for the “Belchesters’ House” in Audley Square that Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane took as their town house when they married. Jill Paton Walsh’s completion of Sayers’ ‘Thrones and Dominations’ continues the story of their life in Audley Square.

In the library upstairs, a false bookcase pushes back to reveal a hidden inner room – Dorothy L Sayers has Harriet Vane writing her books in this room, from where Hyde Park can just be glimpsed. Thanks to everyone, especially Barry Pike, for making me feel so at home.

One comment on “Behind Closed Doors”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    I have to admit to being a Dorothy Sayers fan, although it was too bad she had to fall in love with Peter Wimsey. Nine Tailors is a marvelous book. I’m always surprised to find that authors have used real houses in their stories. I would have enjoyed hearing you on the subject of Margery Allingham as well as seeing that house.

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