I think all creators of Gothic books and films have a love affair with houses.
In one of my favorite stories, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, it is Manderly. For Jane Eyre it is Thornfield Hall. Anne Rice begins most of her Gothic novels with lavish descriptions of Greek Revival houses in New Orleans. We know Anne loves houses! Mysterious houses cast their turreted shadows over characters from Fall of the House of Usher, by E.A. Poe, to Miss Haversham’s mansion in Dickins’s Great Expectations, to the Museum of the Addams Family, or the ruined manse in Diane Setterfield’s Thirteenth Tale. I struggle to think of one Gothic tale from Horror to Romance and everything in between that does not feature a stately home, or a haunted house, or a haunted stately home, as the setting for drama and suspense.Unless its a castle, but that’s another post.
In all stories, the protagonist leaves their ordinary life to either set out on an adventure, or has an adventure visited upon them. In most Gothic stories, .it is going into a strange house. Every house, and by extension every family, especially Old Aristocratic families, are worlds unto themselves. The houses must be large with many unused rooms where mysteries dwell. There may be hidden staircases, rooms behind the fireplaces, widows walks, towers and balconies that extend the world of the house into the outside, into the garden, usually a walled garden, for these interior stories that address the soul.
This is why Gothic tales often indulge in descriptive passages designed to lure the reader into the book in the same way the heroine is lured into the house. The house may be derelict and darkly eerie, or bright and beautiful, like Manderly or Bly in Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but secrets lurk in the corners, or the attic, or in the woods.
The 1970s soap opera, Dark Shadows, drew on the classic Gothic tropes, including the house Collinwood on Widow’s Hill overlooking the sea. All of these houses are haunted either symbolically, psychologically or literally. All of them are overshadowed by death and harbingers of death.
Many of my own stories were inspired by houses, many photographed by British photographer Simon Marsden. One of these was Crawford Priory falling to ruin in Scotland. But I’ll save that for a post on ruins.
A Gallery of Gothic Houses
I lived near this house when I lived in London Highgate. I used to pass all the time. And yes, it is as evocative ad it looks in the photo.
Used as a location for Thornfield Hall in a recent film of Jane Eyer.
A Southern Gothic house than Anne Rice might appreciate.
We enter the Otherworld of the house through the door. Therefore are doors Gothic.