Love in Lindfield is based on the life of Charles Eamer Kempe, the Victorian stained glass painter, who lived in our village. He never married but suffered from a debilitating stammer. There’s a great story in his biography that Kempe confided to his disciple, John Lisle, “that there had been only one woman in his life, but that, stuttering out his declaration , the lady had kindly helped him out — with quite the wrong interpretation of this intention — he never had the pluck to try again.”
I took this as a challenge to identify the various women he knew that this might have referred to. One of my favourite candidates is Frances Wolseley, pictured above. She was an amazing woman in her own right, starting a school for lady gardeners near Lewes. Although they were separated by a generation, they spent a lot of time together and even if the relationship never matured they were certainly soul-mates. You’ll have to read the book to find out who the other candidates were!