The Lodge and iron railings at the southern end of the Estate were built about two hundred years ago at the end of the Georgian era, with a nod to the Gothic style in the arched front door. The lodge-keeper’s job was to keep the entrance gates closed, and open them when a visitor approached. Many years ago I went to an estate in the West Midlands where this practice still obtained. At Staunton, the local blacksmith once told me, he arrived at the gates one day with his father and was starting to open them when the old man rushed out saying “You’ll cost me my job”. If he lost his job, he’d lose his house as well.

The Lodge was ‘T’ shaped, with three rooms; living room, bedroom, and kitchen/scullery. Each room had a fireplace and for symmetry the flues were arched over to gather in the roof space and emerge as one central stone chimney. We bought the building in 1966 and extended it by adding a second bedroom on one side and kitchen on the other, with the old kitchen made into a bathroom. In the course of the work we had to demolish some of the original chimneys, and it was then that we found the child’s leather shoe. It was concealed in a small cavity created for it in the solid wall.

I can visualize it now, and wish we’d kept it, but it was many years later that I learned of the tradition of building a shoe into the chimney to ward off evil spirits which might enter the house that way. Now the gates are gone, destroyed at the end of the war, the gold-topped railings have been lovingly restored, and a family lives in the Lodge, with as far as we know, no ill effects.