The Flying Castle Stories, 1, 2 and 3
by Robert Mayfield
The quirky and iconic Town Hall in Horsham, Sussex was the inspiration for The Flying Castle Stories. Rebuilt to look like a castle in 1812, it has stood on the site in many different forms for over 600 years. Enter a world inhabited by the likes of Great lion, Rosalinda and Barnie the Bear.
The crew of the flying castle like to fly off and help anyone with a problem. Usually the idea for a story line comes from something I have come across in the news or in ordinary day life. The Human Cannonball was written in 2005, after seeing the photograph of a human cannonball being shot through the air from Mexico to America.
His name is Dave Smith (‘The Bullet’). You can find him on the internet, including the original photo that inspired the story (August 2005). An item in the news about ivory hunters gave the inspiration for Swifty the Elephant. The idea for The Sundial came after hearing a mother’s account of her son’s tooth problem and how a dentist really did suggest putting a sock over the boy’s thumb at night time so as to help keep his teeth nice and straight! The Flying Castle Stories celebrate the inspirational aspects around Horsham, due to the town’s quaintness and quirkiness, and because it is surrounded by such beautiful countryside.
These are the qualities that John Wakefield brings out in his wonderful drawings as in the case of the cover painted for the Flying Castle Stories, which shows the castle floating down over the actual landscape looking south from Horsham towards Denne Hill. At the bottom of the picture you can just see the large sundial that takes centre stage in the story. The sundial really does look as though it is about to take off at any time. It is so large that children use it as a kind of climbing frame, or as a place to sit down just like Jack!
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