M.R. James’s: “Mr. Humphreys and his Inheritance”

Okay, very little of this post is related to the story in the title, but I’m using it as an excuse to write about my day last Thursday…

Last Thursday, I got an opportunity to go on a day trip with the Indiana State Museum volunteers.  The trips are a semi-annual perk for the many volunteer workers that are part of the museum’s staff. My mom is one of them, and usually invites me to come along.  This time, we went to the town of Wabash, IN, known for being the first town in the world to be electrically lighted.

Our first stop was at the very recently renovated Charley Creek Inn.  Manager Kathryn MacMillan took us on a 45 minute tour of the building, which is in downtown Wabash and was originally opened in 1920.  I must say they have done a tremendous job in the restoration and the hotel is definitely someplace I would enjoy staying at overnight.

From a news video, see here:

For a video by the architects, see here:

Next, we went to see the Charley Creek Gardens

Their website is here:
It was the best time of year to visit as many of the flowers were in full bloom (azalea’s especially).  I also learned the ‘difference’ between the words “labyrinth” and “maze.”   There is a small hedge maze on the property.  I have been interested in hedge mazes ever since reading the M.R. James ‘ghost’ story, “Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance,” which prominently features a hedge maze.  You may find this story to read at http://arthursclassicnovels.com/jamesmr/humphriesin10.html

The difference between the two words, which are used somewhat interchangeably by most (me included, but I’ll try to do better in the future), is given below (lifted from amazeingart.com)

What is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth today?
Today people think of mazes as tricky and confusing puzzles, with false passages and dead ends. Examples include the Dole Pineapple Plantation maze, cornfield mazes, or the art from the Amazeing Art book. Labyrinths, on the other hand, are thought to have a single path that winds into center, and are often (but not always) circular. The best-known labyrinths are Church labyrinths, such as at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco or Chartres Cathedral in France.

Our guide at the gardens also  pointed out that their labyrinth is used as a ‘healing,’ meditative type of practice for some people – apparently as you navigate toward the center of the labyrinth you visualize yourself shedding your worries or troubles, and by the time you are done, you have healed yourself somewhat.  I had never heard of this practice before.  Below is the Labyrinth at Charley Creek Gardens.

Dr. James Ford historic home.

After a quick lunch at the gardens, we made what was probably my favorite stop at the Dr. James Ford historic home.  Ford served as a doctor during the Civil War (fitting right in with my reading project for 2010), and lived to a ripe old age.  The website for the home maybe be found here.


As is my habit, I asked one of the caretakers of the home if there were any associated ghost stories, but – alas – she said “no,” mentioning that she had spent a lot of time in the house alone and “never noticed anything.”

One other item related to my reading this year was that the chairs in the dining room of the Dr. James home were the same chairs used in the movie Gone With the Wind to furnish Aunt Pittypat’s parlor.  The caretaker said many people want to know “which one Clark Gable sat in”…

I took a picture of some of the books on display in the doctor’s ’operating room’ in the house (complete with life-size model patient) which I used as the first photograph in this post.

Our fourth stop was at the Wabash County Museum, which currently features an in-depth exhibit about Stephen Douglass (of the Lincoln-Douglass debates fame) – another appropriate tie-in for my 2010 Civil War reading project.  Most of us were also held spellbound by a rather large model train set-up in another part of the museum.

Our final stop was at The Honeywell House, one of the region’s more opulent homes and the former residence of Mrs. Mark C. Honeywell.  The house also serves as a bed & breakfast from time to time – but only to a limited clientele (I think you have to ’know somebody’ to book a night’s stay there).  A beautiful house, though, and we were served a delicious dinner there as well.

That was it, except for the 105-minute bus ride home.  (One would think I could’ve gotten some reading done during the travel time on this trip, but I must sadly report, that I only read a few pages… )


1 Comment

  1. January 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

    […] the picture since it seems so many book bloggers love the novel and movie.  Here is a link to my prior post about the tour for the volunteers, and a link to the web site of the Dr. James Ford historic home […]


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