Light and Dark

Copyright Mary Shipman

Copyright Mary Shipman

The museum team arrived just in time, the new tenant was starting to turn the old hat factory into a tacky theme park. When her only son passed away, Old Mother Shipton had locked the doors to everyone, and a time capsule had been created. Even her former washing hung as if petrified from the rafters.

When no one had claimed her estate, the place became ‘bona vacantia’ and so the crown took it. A venture capital company purchased the estate, then put it up for rent. A local museum objected and won the right to preserve the place…


Ursula Sontheil [old mother Shipton] was born in 1488 near Knaresborough and found famed as a prophetess. The Petrifying Well at Knaresborough was first written about in 1538. Magic is in the eye of the beholder.


This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. neilmacdon

    I tripped up on the time capsule. I thought at first she had created a time machine. But then I got it on a re-read

    1. Michael Humphris

      I agree, I tripped up several times on this piece of writing. I nearly always go with my first thoughts on seeing a FF prompt. The clothes hanging from the rafters took me to mother Shiptons cave. Now I wonder should I have gone with the rolling pins. Mike

  2. rochellewisoff

    Dear Michael,

    Fascinating bit of history. I will have to look up Old Mother Shipton.



    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Rochelle, One of the things I have enjoyed from FF is learning about the history behind some of the posted story’s. I hope that one day I will learn how to post a working link to a subject behind one of my stories.

      1. Dawn Quyle Landau

        Creating links is really quite easy! Highlight the bit you want to link to (ie: old mother Shipton), and then above the box that you are typing the story in (on WordPress), there is a “link icon” (google that, if you don’t recognize it). You click on that icon, copy and paste the URL of the website that provides the historical (or other) info, and follow prompts. I too had to look up Old Mother Shipton… but love that you’ve written a story that made me want to look it up! ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Michael Humphris

          Thank you Dawn for your comment and for taking the the time to send me the information on creating a link, very much appreciated. Mike

          1. Dawn Quyle Landau

            You’re welcome. It took me forever to figure out so many things that I wanted to do with my blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Bjรถrn Rudberg (brudberg)

    I know of a few places like that… there are those places that just begs to be preserved.. At our countryhouse there is a house preserved like that… and fortunately it’s now a museum

  4. lillian

    Interesting to learn of Old Mother Shipton.
    Sadly the wrecking ball removes too much history from our midst. Have you ever been to the Tenement Museum in NY City? It is an 1863 preserved tenement building on the Lower East Side with various rooms as they were through time with immigrant families who lived there. It’s a marvelous piece of preserved history. I believe if you Google it you can see photos. Fascinating place for adults as well as children to tour.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Having a bad computer day! Sadly I have only managed to visit New York once, I will google the Tenement museum. Sorry if this post arrived twice. Mike

  5. Sandra

    That took me back – one of my first childhood memories was visiting Old Mother Shipton’s cave, and seeing a half finished piece of knitting petrified into stone. Brilliant take on the prompt. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Sandra,

  6. IfeomaO

    Old Mother Shipton inspired by a picture provided by Ms. Mary Shipman- had to point it out :). Thank you for sharing. It was heartwarming to read.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Yep I thought about that also, but I did not want to change my original story.

    2. Dale

      Great catch!

      1. Michael Humphris

        Thank you for your kind comment. Mike

  7. spicedmullings

    Learning about new people and new places. Thanks!

    1. Michael Humphris

      The history of humanity is full of surprises, plus much that has not been recorded. It is such a rich field for anyone wishing to write. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Mike

  8. wildchild47

    This is a wonderfully inspired piece – I like how you followed your instincts anyhow Mike, and let yourself explore the idea of preservation, magic and yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Definitely a fun image and your story is a lovely little slice of play and interest.

  9. helenmidgley

    Great little bit of history ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Michael Humphris

      There is so much history to interpret and write about, Mary Shipman photograph offered so many possibilities. Thank you Helen

  10. Woman_on_Pause

    In Florida we have weird old Motels that are preserved like that. Kinda creepy. Great story I enjoyed the visual!

    1. Michael Humphris

      I guess that throughout the world there will be places stuck in time, each with their own story. If so it will keep us writers busy trying to tell their stories. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Mike

  11. wmqcolby

    Really? Wow! I learned something new. Thanks, Michael! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you

  12. draliman

    Better a museum than a theme park, for sure. Nice piece!

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I find that usually museums do a better job on representing history and people.

  13. Dale

    So many are worth preserving. Thanks for the history lesson!

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Dale. More years ago than I care to remember, history was one of the very few subjects at school that I could generally cope with. I will however try not to push that interest on my readers to often. Mike

      1. Dale

        Well you need not fear…seems quite well-received…

  14. Perry Block (@PerryBlock)

    Nice to learn about Old Mother Shipton, a new one for me. If only I’d get invited to some cocktail parties, I’d really impress. Thanks!

    1. Michael Humphris

      cocktail parties, impressed. Thanks for reading and commenting. Mike

  15. Patrick Prinsloo

    Love the folk history. Me did museums too.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Sadly these days I do not often enough get to visit museums. Thank you for reading and your comment. Mike

  16. gahlearner

    I need to look her up, too,she’s new to me as well.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Now what have I started? Mike

      1. gahlearner

        We learn something new, that’s always a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. ansumani

    Nice bit of history woven into the story!

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, I really do appreciate it. Mike

  18. Dreamer of Dreams

    That was an intriguing bit of historical fiction! Great going with the time capsule!

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