The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Four
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part One
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Two
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Three
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Four
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Five
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Six
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor – Part Seven
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Eight
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Nine
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part 10
Edward James Hawthorne Covingport was born on March 29, 1693, and died on November 14, 1714. Queen Anne of Great Britain presented him with the title and lands of a Marquess in April 1714 for his efforts in helping the Duke of Marlborough win a series of battles in the War of Spanish Succession.
After his death, Edward’s distant uncle, known previously as George Henry Morris III, took on the Covingport name and seized the lands and titles in December 1714. This power play was not disputed by King George I and hence the new Covingport line began with George Henry Covingport I. It is, however, important to note that many of Edward’s close friends and manor staff fought this decision as it was not known who had killed Edward. Those who argued believed it was his uncle George who had killed him, as he had the most motive. The king refused a trial and deemed the murder case closed, claiming insufficient evidence of Edward’s death being anything other than a terrible accident.
How could a king just close a murder case that people were fighting? I understood kings and queens ruled but wasn’t there a court system or something at the time?
I closed the history book and stretched on the couch. Aunt Blaire’s books were fascinating, and I found myself entranced by the history of Edward’s life. From what I understood, I was not descended from him directly, but he still had a family connection to my ancestors somehow.
I looked at the time and cringed. I needed to pace myself with devouring the texts. I had stayed up all night reading before Elaina had checked on me. I wasn’t sure if she had been waiting for me to go to bed first, but she had been wrapped in a robe looking ready for bed herself.
Now it was almost past noon, and I was still in my PJ’s in bed. It surprised me that Elaina or Frank hadn’t come to check on me yet.
My plan for today was to explore the property and hire a groundskeeper. Exploring would help me get familiar with this land and I can check to see what needs to be fixed.
I dressed quickly in jeans, a light hoodie, and a pair of boots. I threw my hair up into a bun and headed downstairs to the kitchen. Until I knew the grounds, I wanted to cover up in case I ran into bushes with thorns or a nest of spiders. Just the thought of a bunch of spiders crawling over me gave me chills.
“Good morning, Hannah,” Frank greeted as I walked into the kitchen.
The room was a mixture of modern and sleek, with that old-time aesthetic. The floor was made with stone tablets and the walls were stones. If I had to guess, I would assume they were the original materials used to build this room. There was a large stone oven at the end of the kitchen. It looked clean, too clean to have been used in the last half-decade.
Cabinets and shelving were placed around the arches against the walls, and a pots and pans rack had been bolted into the coffered ceiling. The appliances were all new and even the wooden wagon wheel chandeliers had been updated to include electric lights.
“Hi,” I breathed, taking it all in.
“Wonderful, is it not?” Frank asked, looking around the room. “Your Aunt Blaire recommissioned the kitchen to look almost exactly like its original state. Of course, during the year of the last occupant, there were no electric appliances.”
“How did you guys cook before the remodel?” I asked. I walked further into the room and took a seat at the island where Frank was mixing a coffee for me.
“Covingports have paid to keep the house updated through the years, but with no one except us to oversee the renovations, it was poorly done. We did have a working gas stove in here and a fridge. We moved the fridge to another room though because the electricity kept going out and the food went bad.”
“Those are awful conditions. Why have you guys stayed so long?”
Frank shrugged. “Loyalty. Elaina and I, our families, have served the Covingport line since Edward’s arrival. He is the one who commissioned the house to be built with the blessing and coin from Queen Anne. He hired each servant himself. He cared for them and tended to their needs as much as they did to him.”
“But I’m not a direct descendant from him. You owe no loyalty.” I was curious about Frank and Elaina, and I hoped they could give me more insight into Covingport Manor that I couldn’t find in Aunt Blaire’s books.
“It is true that we owe no loyalty to the tainted Covingport line. But Elaina and I believe that one day the true Covingport heir will come back to us.”
I was surprised by that. “I read nothing about Edward having children. Did he?”
Frank smiled warmly at me as he slid over a bowl of fruit and some toast. “You never know.” I opened my mouth to ask him what he meant by that, but before I could, he asked me a question. “What are your plans for today? Anything Elaina and I can assist you with?”
“I’m going to explore the grounds today. I want to make a list of everything that needs fixed or cleaned up so I can prepare a groundskeeper for the work and see if I need any other type of service. Do you have any local groundskeepers who you would recommend?”
“Miss Blaire had many groundskeepers in and out through the years. None of them fit in with us. And by us, I do mean Miss Blaire as much as the staff.”
“Well, if you make me a list, I’ll start calling and offer the position. We’ll find someone.”
“We shall whip one up for you by the end of the day.”
Frank and I chatted while I chewed the fresh fruit. He told me stories about his time at Covingport Manor—both the good and bad.
After I finished breakfast, I headed out and followed the path to the lake. The sun glittered off the water and now that I was looking at it, I couldn’t tell if it was a small lake or a large pond. The water was dark, but looked inviting.
I checked the dock, and from the outside, it looked to be in good condition. I would have to go for a swim soon to check the wood under the water. I hoped it was in good condition and I wouldn’t have to repair it anytime soon.
Trees surrounded the body of water. It was quiet of human noises, but the sound of nature was vibrant in the trees. I could hear birds chirping, and I watched a butterfly and two dragonflies soar across the water.
I loved the openness that came with the manor. It was something that played a big part in pushing me to keep the place.
I followed the path down to the greenhouse. The windows were filthy at first glance. A few of them had cracks and would need replacing. The stone architecture was in good condition, and I liked the vines growing on the left side of the door. When I got this cleaned up, that would stay.
I climbed the few steps to the door and opened it. The hinges cracked, echoing in the wind behind me. The door moved at a strange angle and I shut the door before it could fall off the frame. That would need fixing.
Wiping the dirt off one of the window panes in the door, I peered inside. It was a mess. The wood on the planter boxes looked rotted from here, and trash, dirt, and dead plants covered the floor. The stone foundation on the outside and, from what I could see of the inside, looked to be in good condition.
I hoped it was because if not, I would have to replace the entire greenhouse and that would be a shame. Keeping the original foundation of the manor was my top priority. I loved history, and this place had a lot of it.
The upkeep must have been a lot for Aunt Blaire to do by herself. Made worse, I was sure, by removing all of the staff. It nagged at me why she would let go of all the staff except for three. It seemed like a lot to split, especially when taking into account Frank and Elaina’s ages.
The grass at least had been kept up. I wondered who spent the time to mow the land because it was large. It would take hours to get the whole place done.
I had nothing left to inspect on the greenhouse unless I wanted to risk the door falling off the frame, so I continued on the path towards the tree line. The wind blew colder when I hit the line of shade the trees provided, and I was glad I chose to wear a hoodie and jeans.
The path was kept up with the overgrowth outside of the tree line, but once I passed into the trees, the path became noticeably more unattended. Overgrowth of weeds and grass was taking over the rocky path in chunks.
Despite that, the lack of bugs flying around surprised me. I saw the occasional mosquitoes, flies, and butterflies, but the trees weren’t infested with bugs. Walking down the path was peaceful, and I enjoyed the sounds of the birds. They were louder now that I was closer, but they still hid high above, and I saw less of them than I did the bugs.
The darkness of the trees lightened up as I approached a wrought-iron gate. The gate was covered in vines and moss, but the C insignia on the gates was legible.
I grabbed the gate and pulled. The overgrown grass kept catching on the bottom. I powered through, flattening the grass with my shoes and tearing it away in thicker places until I could open the gate enough to slip in.
“Whoa,” I breathed out. Beneath the overgrowth were the tips of headstones. As I walked closer to them, I noticed they were hard to read with the dirt and stains covering them. Some areas were higher than others, and most of the headstones were tall.
There was one that caught my eye. It was flat and I could still read the engraving as I brushed the dirt off.
Elise Marie Covingport
December 19, 1832–December 21, 1832
My heart broke. Even the littlest Covingports were buried here. There would be so much to learn and discover about the Covingport family when I began cleaning and uncovering the headstones.
How could Aunt Blaire have missed this?
At the back right corner of the clearing stood a mausoleum. It was grand. Greying with age. And so, so beautiful. The columns arched around the entrance where a stone door was firmly shut. There was a small iron rod that I assumed was a handle.
I grabbed the iron rod tightly and pulled on it to open the mysteries hidden inside.
Featured image by Liam Briese, courtesy of Unsplash