Winter Tale Time! The House on the Cliff


It’s that time of the year again! Winter tale season is here!

There is probably a smell of roasted chestnuts and other good comfortable things all the time, for we are telling Winter Stories– Ghost Stories, or more shame for us–round the Christmas fire; and we have never stirred, except to draw a little nearer to it.

— Charles Dickens, “The Christmas Tree”

Winter tales — stories to tell or to read around a warm fire on a cold dark night, preferably with a steamy hot drink to wrap your hands around. Every year, I try to share a few good winter tales, and other Christmas-related stories, to celebrate the season.

This year, I’ll start with a story from W. J. Wintle’s Ghost Gleams (1921), which I’ve posted about previously. The stories in this collection were originally tales told ’round a campfire to the boys who attended the school at Caldey Abbey, in Wales. Not all of the stories are creepy, but of the ones that were, my favorite was “The House on The Cliff”.

Cyril stood there as the sun sank down in a bed of opal grey flushed with purple sapphire; and long flashing feathers of ruby played across the drowsy waves. A passing boatman saw him from the distance outlined against the sky, and wondered who it could be: and that was the last time that any human eye saw him alive.

Poor Cyril. All he wanted was some peace and quiet. Normally, a week at a quiet cottage by the sea with nothing but my books would be my ideal getaway — which just added to the creepiness of this story, for me. To be honest, I think that Wintle could have dropped the last paragraph, but overall, this one is pleasantly shivery, especially when read alone in bed late at night.


You can read more about the Ghost Gleams collection (including where to download it) in this previous post.

You can find all the winter tales that I’ve shared on my Winter Tales page.

The image above is from the cover of The Cottage on the Cliff (1834) by Catherine G. Ward. Courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library.

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