We had a competition to create a back story to a painting which was created in the art room (which we called Lady Bradford)
The Winner - Lady Bradford
She stood looking at the house that she had walked past dozens of times without really noticing. She wasn’t sure why she stopped, maybe the name Bradford House had jumped out, but for some reason she couldn’t move. She was feeling at a crossroads and place names were attracting her. Which path she chose would probably be her last, one way or the other. Surely, she hadn’t stopped because her destiny was in Bradford? She had been toying with trying to get abroad. Specifically, Svenberg on the coast in Denmark. Even being that specific she wasn’t sure why, something in an echo from her past seemed to recognise it. She had found an old holiday diary in her Grandmother’s few belongings and there it was. From the notes, photos and postcards it looked and sounded wonderful, so a seed was sewn. Somewhere new but vaguely familiar.
She realised she was fingering the locket round her neck, clicking it open and closed. Pulling herself together she laughed and said aloud, ‘Not Bradford then!’. As she took a step to move, a thought popped into her head ‘Maybe not the town but the house?’. On a whim she climbed the steps and rang the bell. She could see inside, a hallway with pictures on the walls, and through the bay window, strange looking models and sculptures. A woman was running down the stairs and opened the door smiling, ‘Come on in, we’ve been expecting you. We’ve been looking forward to this since we heard you were coming…..’ ‘Expecting me? But that’s impossible!’ Her voice trailed away as she looked at the woman more closely, ‘Are you having a fancy dress party?’ ‘Why no my dear – I rather thought the same of you. We rarely see young women in trousers, though I understand they must be much easier for riding. Did you fall? Those tears and rips down the front of them. I’ll get one of the girls to stitch them for you.’ Her voice continued but the young woman’s attention had started to wander. She wondered ‘Who is this woman with her long dress, lacy collar and shawl?’ as she walked along the hall still looking at the paintings, so many styles and colours. Then she stopped staring at a portrait of a lady who was very familiar.
‘I see you have spotted our Lady Bradford.’ The young woman opened her locket. ‘My Grandmother left this with a note for me. It just said, ‘See where it takes you’. So far it hasn’t taken me anywhere nice, I’ve had a struggle lately – well for quite a while now’. ‘Well you are here now dear, and Lady Bradford told us you would be coming so…’ ‘Tell me about her, I know nothing, all this is very strange.’
‘Well I don’t know what you are to each other, but she certainly knows you. She came from Denmark with her nobleman husband, who had businesses throughout this country and our house is named for him. Lady Bradford was travelling with him when sadly it was here that he died. Everyone despaired for her, she was so very sad and desolate. Did you cross the bridge and noticed the canal? It’s quieter now of course but just a few years ago she was struck by the poor barge families and the suffering children. She helped them and their parents, just by talking and making them welcome and it seemed to revive her. So now that’s what we do, talk and comfort.’
The young woman was suddenly back in the here and now. ‘What do you mean, she knows me? The lady you are talking about must be from generations ago, but somehow she’s in my locket!’. ‘I’m not sure dear but Bradford House seems to attract people like yourself, a bit of a tradition now…’
There was the noise of conversation coming down the stairs and occasional laughter. ‘Lady Bradford isn’t quite here today, though I must admit the house feels as though she never leaves. Look again at her portrait, while I just tell the others you are here.’ and she was gone, up the stairs.
The young woman opened her locket and there she was, the same portrait that she was standing looking at in this strange hall. She caught sight of herself in a mirror opposite and was she there again? She turned quickly but she couldn’t quite see. ‘Well whoever you are, you’ve brought me here!’ she thought.
Steps on the stairs again, the woman was back but somehow different, short skirt, bright shirt, splash of pink hair, little tattoo showing on her wrist as she took the young woman’s hand. ‘Come on up, coffee’s hot, we’ve got Hob Nobs and we’re singing to the radio! You are welcome in Bradford House!’