I’ve been thinking about starting something new: every once and a while, I'd like to write a profile of one of the London sites that appear in the Sebastian series. The obvious place to start is with Camlet Moat, which figures so prominently in When Maidens Mourn. Now just a shady, half-forgotten moat surrounding an abandoned island, it was once something much grander.
Much of the history of Camlet Moat is lost in time. What we do know is that “Camlet” is an abbreviation of its original name, “Camelot,” that its origins date back to before the time when King Arthur may or may not have lived, and that there is something undeniably special about the site.
For such a seemingly insignificant place, Camlet Moat has an intriguing number of weird associations. Yes, there really is an old well on the island, said to be associated with the grail maidens of yore. Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville really did own the castle or fortified house that once stood there, and the tales of his hidden treasure and the moat’s link to the mysteries of the Knights Templar persist to this day. It was once part of a royal forest hunted by Queen Elizabeth and, later, the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin did hang out here when not barking out his famous cry, “Stand and deliver!” Why the place isn’t better known is beyond me.
At any rate, Camlet Moat still exists. If you travel to the northwest of London, you can even walk its quiet, sun-dappled banks because the old eighteen-century estate (much altered in the Victorian period, when Trent Place because Trent Park) is now open to the public. During World War II, captured Nazi generals were imprisoned here. You can’t make this stuff up…
Image courtesy of Wikimedia