Of all the places Danielle and I planned to visit while we were in London, Camlet Moat--the site of so much of When Maidens Mourn--excited me perhaps more than anything else. I couldn't classify going there as research since the book was written long ago. I suppose in a sense it was something of a pilgrimage.
Believe it or not, the Piccadilly Line runs all the way out to Cockfosters, so it is possible to get there on the Tube (it runs above ground once it gets out of London). Then all you need do is turn right after leaving the station, walk up the road a ways, and you're at an entrance to what is now Trent Park.
Once part of Enfield Chase, the vast hunting grounds of Henry IV, Trent Park has been a public park since the 1970s. When I was writing When Maidens Mourn, the great house was used as part of Middlesex University, but that has now closed, with the buildings sold to some Asian outfit that is attracting local ire by allowing the historic structure to fall into disrepair. It was drastically rebuilt in the early 20th century, and this is about all that we could see of it:
But the grounds--320 acres in all--are public, and they are lovely. And huge. Danielle and I walked forever, since Camlet Moat itself is on the far side of the park from Cockfosters.
Much of the park consists of wide open vistas and rolling farmland, but the elevated area around Camlet Moat is wooded and dark and--I don't think I imagined it--decidedly atmospheric. I was afraid I'd be disappointed, but I wasn't. The moat has silted up dreadfully over the years and is choked with algae, but it was actually wider than I expected it to be (at least on three sides). The little land bridge to the isle is still there.
The ground on the isle is very uneven, presumably because whoever filled in the trenches from the various digs didn't do a very good job. Whatever buildings were once there have vanished. The ancient well was likewise destroyed long ago, although I did find a wet depression I thought might be its site.
The pictures don't lie, by the way; that really is the quality of the light.
And then, after a wonderful ramble over hill and dale, we found a lovely tea shop and simply sat.