Windrow Estate

The Windrow Estate is located in Downstate New York, “not far from Haverstraw” and a mile or so outside the town of Van Twiller [The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost; 44, 55].

Chiefly funded by the personal economical successes of Zebulon Windrow, the property boasts a mansion, an enormous church, and a folly all “on a hilltop not estate overlooking the Hudson River” [44]. Its church - built between 1900 and 1909 [Revenge; 81] - is easily the most eye-catching attraction with its four-hundred foot tall steeple rising above the tree-line.

The property is bordered by a grimy, red sandstone wall. A small stone gatehouse is built into the wall near the entrance where “two tall red-granite pillars rose above the level of the wall, and atop each one was a weathered and pitted stone skull. Between the pillars large black iron gates could be seen” [60]. On the other side of the gates is a gravel driveway that leads to the mansion and church.

The Windrow mansion is “a grim square block with a large, egg-shaped copper dome rising up out of the middle. Atop the dome was a funny little doodad shaped like saltshaker, and from it sprouted a short pole with a metal flag on it” [60]. Its main entrance is flanked by a “flight of broad stone steps” and “a tall pair of bronze doors with large drum-shaped knobs” [74]. Oak trees grow in the area [102]. Little is seen inside massive building but it is known for its extensive library, a huge, high-ceilinged room with built-in bookshelves that stretched from floor to ceiling along three of the four walls [75-6]. A large window at the far end of the room features a stained-glass window of a “young man in an old-fashioned naval uniform” and the inscription: Ensign French is the Unfortunate Traveler” [77].

The entrance to the church from the mansion is a “small stone porch...stuck onto the side” [77]. Inside was a vaulted, ribbed, stone ceiling, and two rows of pointed arches marched down the nave toward the altar at the eastern end [79]. While the church is said to be an exact copy of Salisbury Cathedral in England [44], Professor Childermass later discovers one difference: “There is no crypt in the original church, but there's one in this building, as you well know, that's where we're going” [80]. Access to the crypt is behind the main altar at the eastern end of the church. The crypt, 39 steps below the church floor [80], contains the final resting place of many Windrow family members, including Ensign Edmund “Ulysses Theodore” French, the man who married Zebulon Windrow's only daughter. Outside, at the tip of the four-hundred foot tall stone steeple is a red warning light [72].

In the back lawn is a small grove of trees and a small white, stone folly called the Temple of the Inner Light [66]:

The door of the building was made of bronze, and it was flanked by fluted columns. The place looked utterly deserted. The marble pillars were grimy, and pine needles littered the steps. A sagging cobweb hung across one corner of the doorway. [The professor] was staring a statue that stood in a niche on the front of the temple. It was a statue of a short, hunched figure in a monk's robe...[b]elow the statue was an inscription: "To him are given the key of the Bottomless Pit." [66-7]

The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral (boss architecture)
Wouter van Twiller

About the time Johnny Dixon is being possessed by the spirit of Warren Windrow down in Duston Heights, Zebulon’s estate outside Van Twiller is undergoing renovations. Having remained empty and slowly decaying in the decades after Zebulon’s death, a private foundation has recently purchased the property with the intention to repair and open the buildings as a tourist attraction on Memorial Day of 1952. An army of workmen crowd the estate during the day...prompting Professor Childermass and Fergie to make nightly visits to the mansion and church. The night the two discover the vault under the church they also come across a doorway leading to a lower crypt [82] – which turns out to be nothing but a dark, empty cavernous area with sparkling, white pillars – of salt.

Inspiration

Bellairs notes the Windrow church is a (near) duplicate of England’s Salisbury Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This medieval cathedral is known for its many records: the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom (404 feet); the largest cloister; and the largest cathedral close in Britain (80 acres). Inside are the world's oldest working clock (from AD 1386) and one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta.

The main body of this Anglican cathedral was completed in only 38 years, from 1220 to 1258. The Very Reverend Hugh Dickinson says that because they take so many generations to build, “almost all other English Cathedrals are a mixture of different architectural styles. However the main body of Salisbury Cathedral which includes the tower and West Front, was completed in a mere 38 years.” There were other sections built later, most notably the tower and spire in 1320. While an impressive sight, the tower and spire proved somewhat troublesome when you realize they added over 6 thousand tons to the weight of the building. Knowing that, it’s a wonder the cathedral is still standing....

In 2008, the cathedral celebrated the 750th anniversary of its consecration in 1258.

Van Twiller is not actually a “little bitty town” in New York but one of many cleverly-used regional names created by the author. No American city takes its name from Wouter van Twiller (1606-54), the former Dutch Director General. Van Twiller was a clerk in the warehouse of the Dutch West India Company and employed to ship cattle along the Hudson River. Somewhat acquainted with the geography of New York, having made two voyages to the country from his native Holland, van Twiller was chosen in 1633 to become the West India company governor of New Netherlands.