The Painting of ngley Hall
Mr S. Williams was a collector of paintings, and his special interest
Was pictures of old English country houses, English churches and
Country towns. One day, he received a price list from Mr
Britnall’s shop, where he often bought paintings. With the list was
A note from Mr Hritnall himself, saying that he thought painting
Number 978 might interest Mr Williams. Although the price
Seemed rather high, the description of number 978 made Mr
Williams keen to see it. He decided to order it at once.
The painting arrived a few days later and Mr Williams tore off
The paper, teeling quite excited. What he found was an ordinary
Picture of a large country house from the century before. The
House had three rows of windows, there were tall trees on either
Side and a garden in front. The letters A. W. F. were in a corner of
The painting, probably for the name of the artist. On the back
Of t he picture was a piece of paper, torn in half, with the words
‘ – ngley Hall, – ssex’ on it. He could not see anything very
Special about the picture and could not understand why Mr
Britnall thought he would like it or why the price was so high.
He decided to_scnd it back to the shop the next day.
That evening, a good friend, John Garwood, came to
Williams’s house and noticed the painting. ‘A new one, eh,
Williams? Mmm… I rather like it. T h e light is very good and I
Rather like this person at the front,’ he said.
‘A person?’ said Williams, coming closer. ‘Oh yes, so there is! I
Didn’t notice it before.’ Only the head of the person could be
Seen. It was impossible to say whether it was a man or a woman,
Williams went on. ‘I still feel it’s a bit expensive, though. I was
Going to send it back tomorrow.’
afterwards, the two men went out to dinner with some
Of their friends from the university and later Williams invited
Some of them back to his house for a drink. One of them, who
Was also interested in art, noticed the new painting. ‘Quite
Interesting,’ he said, ‘but don’t you find it ratheer horrible,
Williams? The light is good, but that person standing in front of
The house is rather frightening.’
Williams was too busy pouring drinks to look at the painting
Just then, but later, on his way to bed, he looked at it again and
Was amazed to see that the person in the picture was now right in
Front of the house, not to one side under the trees. The person
Seemed to be on their hands and knees, moving towards the
House. He or she looked extremely thin and was dressed all in
Black, except for a white cross on the back.
‘Am I going mad?’ W’illiams asked himself. He decided to lock
Me picture in a cupboard but did not want to go straight to bed.
‘I’ll write down everything that has happened to the picture
Since it arrived here. Then in the morning 1 won’t think this is all
A dream,’ he thought to himself. And that is what he did. He
Found it very difficult to sleep that night, and the next morning
He decided to ask another friend, Nisbet to come and look at the
‘I want you to tell me exactly what you see in the picture, in
Detail,’ he said to Nisbct, showing him the painting. ‘I’ll explain
“Well, I can sec a country house – English, I think – by
Moonlight…’ began Nisbet.
‘Moonlight?’ interrupted Williams. ‘Are you sure? There was
No moon there when 1 first got it.’
Nisbet looked at his friend strangely. ‘Shall I continue? The
House has one – two – three rows of w i n d o w s. . . ‘