Horden is an ex-mining village on the northeast coast of England, in County Durham. It’s where I grew up. Throughout my childhood, Horden’s beach and dene were my playground and its history and local anecdotes fed my imagination.
There’s a field in Horden that used to be the site of a medieval Saxon settlement called Yohden. It’s believed the name Horden was most likely derived from that. Yohden was deserted in the 900s, around the same time that Scula the Danish Viking warlord took over East Durham.
There were no further dwellings in Horden until the early 17th Century, when a manor house called Horden Hall was built. To this day the manor house still stands; all ivy-entwined and brooding in its own shadows, it looks like the worthy antagonist of any haunted house movie.
Growing up I remember hearing many tales about Horden Hall. About its ghosts and secret smuggler tunnels, leading to the beach, and visits made by Oliver Cromwell.
After Horden Hall was built a few farmhouses were developed at the same site, but it wasn’t until 1900 when Horden was developed on a larger scale and became the established village it now is. It was a colliery village that thrived because of the coal industry, populated by the miners of Horden pit and their families.
I’m the daughter and granddaughter of coalminers myself and it’s a heritage I’m very proud of. The pit closed in 1985 and, unfortunately, the village has since declined into a place of poverty which has many social problems.
Horden, undoubtedly, made its mark on me enough for me to want to incorporate it into my work. And why wouldn’t I? It’s been a huge part of my life and a massive source of inspiration.
Currently I have four horror novels published. Three of those (Emergence, Cribbins and The Cundy) are based in Horden. My books are always very character driven and I find that writing about the types of people you’d find in Horden keeps my books ‘real’ and enables the reader to connect with and relate to each character.
Emergence is about a young widower who revisits the home of his childhood, in Horden, only to reawaken an old evil he’d tried hard to forget.
Cribbins is about a single mother who’s struggling with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis while at the same time is trying to get to grips with the fact she’s being haunted by her old neighbour who’s been dead for fifteen years.
And The Cundy is about a water conduit in Horden dene which is known locally as the cundy. The cundy is a dark tunnel which runs beneath the coast road and you’d be hard pressed to find a resident of Horden who hasn’t walked through it and not felt scared. Perhaps the darkness of the cundy is strengthened by the eerie atmosphere of the dene itself, which keeps a haunting vibe because of the many suicides associated with it.
Horden is rich enough in history to fuel many more writing projects in the future, I’m sure.
My website address is: www.rhdixon.com
My bio is: R. H. Dixon is a horror enthusiast who, when not escaping into the fantastical realms of fiction, lives in the northeast of England with her husband and two whippets. She is an active member of the Horror Writers Association.
When reading and writing she enjoys exploring the darknesses and weaknesses within the human psyche, and she loves good strong characters that are flawed and put through their paces. Her favourite authors include: Shirley Jackson, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Joe Hill, Paul Tremblay, Ramsey Campbell and Stephen King.
As well as reading and writing, she enjoys travelling (particularly wildlife-spotting jaunts involving bears, wolves and corvids), visiting spooky places, collecting animal skulls and drinking full-bodied red wine. A link to where people can buy my work: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rachael-H-Dixon/e/B006PB06H0