What Pegman Saw: A pocketful of keys

We dreaded visits to my great-uncle Dilwyn’s.

His house was a gloomy pile overlooking Hampstead Heath, the walls wood panelled, the furniture solid and carved with grotesques. I remember the drawing room with its Greek masks, the watchful eyes and leering faces. There was a plastered ceiling in there – cracks as wide as my finger, sooty acanthus leaves twined with serpents – that I imagined would crumble one windy day, burying all of us alive.

As we shuffled round the old house stirring up dust, disturbing cobwebs, I envied other children their caravan holidays to the coast or camping trips to the Forest of Dean.

Seeing how bored and listless we were one rainy summer afternoon, Uncle Dilwyn handed me a bunch of keys. Some were dull brass, others rusty iron, all were thick and heavy and felt warm on my palm.

He waved a leathery hand. ‘Go. See what they open,’ he said.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview. This week we are in London.

The photograph is not in Hampstead but one of the rooms in the Sir John Soane Museum in Holborn. Soane was a 19th century architect fascinated with art and sculpture, particularly that of the ancient world. His fascination turned into a collecting habit and through his life he gathered thousands of sculptures, architectural fragments, paintings, models … even the sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti I.

On his death, he left the house and his collection to the nation and entry is free. See here for more details.

13 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw: A pocketful of keys

  1. Dear Lynn,

    As always your descriptions are deliciously vivid. Leathery hand says so much about Uncle Dilwiyn. And you leave us on the cusp of an adventure. What do those keys open? Well done.



    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a brilliant take on the prompt! You open up a whole world of possibilities with the location – Uncle Dilwyn must be wealthy – the spectacular but stifling house, and, of course, those mysterious, tantalising keys!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This appeals to the Indiana Jones in all of us, doesn’t it! Great scene-setting, Lynn, an excellent response to the prompt—with its three caduceus mouldings on the ceiling presumably a hint of the room’s links with apothecaries?


    1. Yes, I wondered about those mouldings too, Chris. I recognised them as medical symbols, but such an odd thing to have on a ceiling, isn’t it? Have you been to Soane’s house? I’d love to go. Thanks so much for the kind comment and funny you should mention Indie as that ceiling reminded me of a ‘room closing in’/heroes caught in a trap type scene. You can feel it, pressing you in. Thanks so much for reading

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, your description of Uncle Dilwyn’s house makes me want to go there (o.k. I’m kinda weird like that.) I’d rather go to his house than the Forest of Dean anytime. Especially if he gave me “the keys.” This is truly brilliant.


    1. Thank you so much Lish – what a lovely comment! Thank you for reading and I’m so glad you liked the idea of Uncle Dilwyn’s house – we shall have to visit together some day 🙂


    1. Aw, thank you Karen! This must hark back to my days of reading The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe books. Magic though they were, they always left me yearning, heartbroken that there were no magic doors to walk through in real life, no portals that would introduce me to fauns and talking beavers! Still searching 🙂


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