"It was in the first week of October in the year 1391 that I first came face to face with the man who owned me… the man whose lightest word was to us, his villeins, weightier than the King’s law or the edicts of our Holy Father…” So began the story of Martin Reed - a serf whose resentment of the automatic rule of his feudal lord finally flared into open defiance.
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The House at Old Vine is the second in a trilogy of novels by Norah Lofts about the inhabitants of a Suffolk house from the late 14th century to the middle of the 20th.
Covering the turbulent years of 1496 to 1680, it follows six generations of the descendants of Martin Reed, who founded the "House" dynasty through his act of rebellion in The Town House, through persecution, war, and revolution, from the era of Christopher Columbus to the Restoration of Charles II.
"At the age of seven I was a skilful pickpocket. I could sew neatly, write a tolerable hand, make a curtsey and a correct introduction, dance a little and play simple tunes on the harpsichord.” This was the London life of Felicity Hatton in 1740 – until chance sent her back to the House, first as a pauper, later to become its mistress – a strange eccentric mistress whose choice of husband was as unorthodox as her manner of living.