In Illumination, the houses that Uncle Toby and Professor Pritchard-Jones live in are quite important clues to their characters. Hawlings has an imposing, but quite cold and frightening exterior; inside it’s dark and full of secrets, just like its owner. Nemeton, by contrast, is very different – the Tudor mansion itself is empty, and the ‘real’ Nemeton is the grove of oaks in the grounds. The character who lives here presents a respectable front (like the Tudor house provides for the grove), but his real nature is unorthodox, romantic, warm and closely allied to all things natural. So if you want to know a character’s true nature, look at their house!
I chose the name Hawlings as a nod to the book that was partly responsible for inspiring the story, John Masefield’s The Box of Delights. In that book, the mansion is called Seekings, but the wise old man of the book is called Cole Hawlings; a good character, so perhaps it’s a bit unsuitable to name the house after him. However, like the old man, the house in Illumination is ancient and full of secrets.
Nemeton, however, is a very old Celtic word meaning a sacred grove or a place of sanctuary. In Illumination, the house is both these things. You can find out more here.
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