Book review: ‘The Animals of Lockwood Manor’ by Jane Healy


Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before Germany began bombing London. Children were being taken to safer quarters in the country. Among other things, the natural history museum’s collection of mammals was being evacuated to a place of safety. The museum and Major Lockwood had reached agreement that the collection could reside in the expansive Lockwood Manor. With most of the male staff off to the war effort, 30-year-old Hetty Cartwright was to accompany the animals and see to their care and upkeep. Several of the specimens had real scientific value as one of the few remaining of that particular species.

In its heyday, Lockwood Manor had required 35 full-time servants for its operation. Since Mrs. Lockwood and her mother had been killed in an automobile accident, most entertainment in the house had ceased and the number of servants had dwindled. Only Major and Lucy Lockwood remained as permanent residents.

The war effort also had an effect, as servants left to work to meet those needs. The net result was that even with the preserved animals on the first floor, there were many rooms on the upper floors whose doors were kept closed, as they served no current purpose.

Lockwood Manor was old. With the many empty rooms, it had an eerie feeling about it. No wonder ghost stories circulated about. The most common was the Woman in White, the spirit that haunted Mrs. Lockwood when she was alive. As she aged, Lucy’s mother often seemed to lose track of reality; when she did, the Woman in White was usually involved.

Hetty Cartwright had not realized the size of the task she had been assigned. Shortly after she and the animals had arrived, the jaguar had disappeared without a trace. Animals seemed to be moved about on many evenings. And the Major had insisted that the rooms be unlocked for the party he was giving for the area military officers. Add the fact that the old house allowed in rats and all manner of pests, and the specimens were under constant attack. As a result, Hetty felt she was under constant attack.

That feeling wasn’t helped by the Major’s personality. To say the least, he was brusque and quite unsympathetic to Hetty’s concerns. He saw the animals as an extension of his own collection and as helping to bring Lockwood back some of its former glory. Although Hetty was quick to call attention to each new concern, she dreaded each encounter.

Over time, Lucy and Hetty became fast friends. The women were about the same age, and neither had succumbed to societal pressure to find a husband. Despite his idiosyncrasies, Lucy was devoted to her father. This was difficult for Lucy, as she felt the Major was somehow at least partially to blame with the problems she was having keeping proper care of the animals for the museum. She carefully avoided the subject of the Major with Lucy. However, when she had occasion to accompany Lucy into the Major’s office, the missing jaguar was there among the Major’s trophies. When confronted about this, he simply blew Hetty off, saying the jaguar was in the house and safe.

By this time, Hetty was thoroughly frustrated with Lockwood. There were clearly strange goings-on in the night, and the animals seemed in danger from several directions. Hetty wrote the museum’s administration and said different quarters would have to be found for the duration of the war.

As it turned out, there was a logical reason for what was happening to the animals at Lockwood and even for the strange happenings in the night. Perhaps the old mansion wasn’t haunted — or was it?

Comments are closed.

  • Royall gives out awards, scholarships to graduating seniors

    June 10th, 2021

    The Royall School District gave out the following awards and scholarships in May.

    Brookwood students named to honor roll

    June 9th, 2021

    The following Brookwood Junior/Senior High School students were named to the fourth-quarter honor roll.

    Book review: ‘The Disappeared’ by T.J. Box

    June 9th, 2021

    Joe Pickette is the game warden for the district that surrounds Saddlestring, Wyo. Each season brings new responsibilities: hunting season, fishing season, even an antler shed season.

    N-O-W summer rec. schedule for June 8–14

    June 2nd, 2021

    Those that have not signed up and are interested in participating in Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton summer recreation program should just show up to the first practice and sign up there.

    Book review: ‘Stone Cross’ by Marc Cameron

    May 27th, 2021

    One role filled by U.S. Marshals is to provide safety for federal judges. When U.S. District Judge Markham was to fly to the remote village of Stone Cross,

  • Royall to serve summer meals to area youth

    May 27th, 2021

    The Royall School District will once again serve summer meals to area youth starting Monday, June 7.

    Person hurt in town of Forest crash

    May 26th, 2021

    A two-vehicle accident occurred at about 6 p.m. Tuesday in the town of Forest, at the intersection of County Highways P and V, according to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.

    Ontario child with special needs goes missing, found inside vehicle

    May 22nd, 2021

    After a search, police located an 8-year-old child with special needs who had wandered away from a residence on Church Street at about 8 a.m. Saturday, according to Vernon County Sheriff John Spears.

    N-O-W hosts community picnic

    May 20th, 2021

    The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District hosted its Picnic Community Day at the Norwalk Village Park on May 1.

    Book review: ‘Dead Madonna’ by Victoria Houston

    May 19th, 2021

    Lew Ferris was the sheriff who served Loon Lake. She was also an avid fly fisherwoman. She had met Paul Osborn, a retired dentist, when he had requested lessons in the use of a fly rod.

    N-O-W announces graduation plans

    May 19th, 2021

    Note: The following is an excerpt of a letter the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District sent to the parents of seniors last week regarding the graduation ceremony and the senior parades.

  • Archives