I have just finished reading the enthralling “The Secret Rooms” by Catherine Bailey. She set out to write a history of the impact that the Great War (1914-18) had on the Duke of Rutland’s estate at Belvoir in Leicestershire, but found herself drawn instead into a real life mystery concerning the forbidding locked rooms where the 9th Duke died in 1940, which had been kept closed ever since…
She discovered that three separate time-spans had been completely erased from the records in these rooms, the Muniment Rooms where the estate documents live, and had been deliberately deleted across all categories of records; the clear perpetrator must have been the Duke himself, who literally died in the attempt.
A real page turner ensues, with a child’s tragic death, swindled inheritances, and intrigues at the very top of the British World War One Command. The 9th Duke had not managed to completely destroy the trail, and Catherine Bailey was able to piece together most of the sad, dark story.
If you love archives and libraries (and you do, you are reading this), I highly recommend this gripping read, which dramatically highlights the importance of irreplaceable original documents and the amazing real life stories they illuminate.
Borrow it from your local library!