The decaying Stoke Moran Manor is Dr. Roylott’s ancestral home and the scene of the story’s central crime. While the manor—the property of one of the wealthiest and oldest families in England—was once grand and imposing, by the time Julia and Helen Stoner move to the manor with Dr. Roylott, the house is in near ruin. The manor once had three wings and a central portion, but only one wing remains—the rest of the house has a caved-in roof and boarded-up windows. As such, Roylott and the Stoner twins occupy adjacent rooms in the only inhabitable wing, an arrangement that leaves them simultaneously cut off from one another due to the lack of common space and uncomfortably close to one another because of the adjacent rooms. This slowly crumbling house represents the decline of the once prosperous and respectable Roylott family, which is now left with a sole descendant who is both destitute and unhinged. The house’s decay also parallels Roylott’s loss of Victorian morals, as Roylott becomes evil and deranged in tandem with the house falling apart.
Stoke Moran Manor Quotes in The Adventure of the Speckled Band
The family was at one time among the richest in England, and the estates extended over the borders into Berkshire in the north, and Hampshire in the west. In the last century, however, four successive heirs were of a dissolute and wasteful disposition, and the family ruin was eventually completed by a gambler in the days of the Regency. Nothing was left save a few acres of ground, and the two-hundred-year-old house, which is itself crushed under a heavy mortgage.
Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with our neighbours, who had at first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in his house and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path. Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the family, and in my stepfather’s case it had, I believe, been intensified by his long residence in the tropics.
So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to span it across from side to side. A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with every evil passion, was turned from one to the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and his high, thin, fleshless nose, gave him somewhat the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey.
The building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown out on each side. In one of these wings the windows were broken and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin.
There are one or two very singular points about this room. For example, what a fool a builder must be to open a ventilator into another room, when, with the same trouble, he might have communicated with the outside air!