Author reveals Doncaster's best kept secret in new book

A Doncaster author of best-selling romantic suspense novels has turned her attention to her home town’s amazing history in her latest release.

Monday, 9th September 2019, 1:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 3:41 pm
9 April 2018........ Richard Bell at Silverwood House in Doncaster, site of the Sand House. (for mag feature). Picture Scott Merrylees

Lynda Stacey’s debut novel, House of Secrets, published in July 2016, won her Choc Lit’s Search for a Star award. It set her on a path that produced a further three successful books over the following two years, allowing her to fulfil a long-held ambition of becoming an author.

For this fifth offering, Keeper of Secrets, Lynda turned to Doncaster’s former Sand House for inspiration, having learnt about the unique Victorian marvel through the activities of The Sand House Charity.

As her ideas began to crystallise, Lynda sought the help of the charity’s Chair of Trustees, Richard Bell, to ensure that she remained true to the history of the sandstone mansion.

Lynda Stacey

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The result is a compelling story, which weaves a fictional tale of mystery, intrigue and romance around the true story of the Sand House’s tunnel network beneath the streets of Doncaster.

The iconic image of the Sand House, the Elephant and Mahout carving, plays a key role, too.

Speaking about “Keeper of Secrets”, Lynda Stacey said “I first heard about The Sand House and its stunning catacombs just a couple of years ago.

I couldn’t believe that I’d lived in Doncaster my whole life and had never heard of it before. My first reaction was that I wanted to go down there, to see them for myself. But when I realised that that wasn’t possible, I decided that the only way I could bring the tunnels back to life was to write about them, to let the world know that they’d existed and how beautiful they’d been.

Keeper of Secrets the new Lynda Stacey book

“I loved writing the book and working closely with Richard Bell; his enthusiasm for the Sand House is addictive.

“I really hope that Keeper of Secrets gives both The Sand House Charity and the Sand House exhibition – to be built in the new Doncaster Museum - the publicity it deserves.”

Commenting on the forthcoming book release, Richard Bell praised Lynda’s attention to the historic details.

He added: “Throughout the entire writing of this book, Lynda has shown a deep respect for the factual story of the Sand House and its tunnels. It has been a delight to support her in her latest project”.

A carving of an elephant and mahout in the Sand House tunnels.

Keeper of Secrets by Lynda Stacey, published by Ruby Fiction, is currently available for preorder on Amazon, ahead of its release in Kindle format on 22 October 2019.

Lynda is a wife, step-mother and grandmother who grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster. She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 28 years.

Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

But it was a cruel twist of fate that actually resulted in Lynda pursuing her passion for writing.

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices, helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with very happy endings.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband Haydn, whom she has been happily married to for over 20 years.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers’ Scheme and in 2015 her debut novel House of Secrets won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition. Lynda writes for both Choc Lit and its sister company, Ruby Fiction.

Lynda was keen to bring the mystery of The Sand House to life and educate people about this iconic part of Doncaster’s history.

The Sand House was a prominent feature in Doncaster from the mid-1850s until the Second World War.

The mansion-sized dwelling was carved from solid sandstone by Victorian businessman Henry Senior. As well as carving the house itself, which stood in a former quarry, Senior excavated into the adjacent ground and created a network of tunnels, decorated with fine and unusual carvings.

The Sand House stood approximately 200 metres north-east of Balby Bridge. The site is now occupied by a 17-storey tall block of flats named Silverwood House.

The Sand House Charity was registered with the Charity Commission on March 2 2017.