CAMBRAY ESTATE is the primary fictional setting of The Natural Son Trilogy. It is the ancestral country seat of the Viscounts Dunholme, located in the fictional village of Dunholme in the old English county of Huntingdonshire (now forming part of Cambridgeshire). Of all the de la Valette holdings, Cambray Estate was the largest and most impressive. It was the family gem in all aspects: size, the wealth it generated, and in its beauty, both natural and man-made. It was augmented in size over the centuries through marriage alliances with two neighbouring squires.
Although this could have been a typical demesne of an affluent peer of some standing, regrettably it wasn’t the case for many. Sadly, the 19th century was a difficult time for the British aristocracy, whose wealth was sinking alarmingly fast, and it was only with special credit to the conscientiousness and high degree of responsibility of the last three de la Valette incumbents that this fictitious estate was spared the same fate. Fellow peers weren’t so lucky, and, indeed, neither were many real peers of the time.
In this fictional setting, Spencer de la Valette, the 12th Viscount Dunholme, spent his entire life augmenting and consolidating the de la Valette assets while other peers of the realm were either insolvent or on the brink. The more intelligence Spencer received about the insolvency or bankruptcy of other aristocratic estates, and how unconscionably burdened with excessive encumbrances they had become over each successive generation, the more he appreciated the due diligence given by his forebears to the family heritage. The de la Valette's were one of very few peerage families who weren't encumbered with debts, and who had built up a steady flow of capital to not only keep up with family charges but to invest heavily in their main estate without undue burdens being thrust on subsequent generations.
This blog section will explore various highlights of the estate for the benefit of those who, like myself, are enthralled by the sheer majesty of these great English stately homes.