The Clerembeax Palace Hotel and Spa – The Nativity of Mary Day
The beautiful Downshire village of Clerembeax St Giles was situated to the west of Abbeyvale located between Grace Hill and Bushy Down and on the outskirts was the Clerembeax Palace Hotel and Spa.
It was once the home The Clerembeax’s, who arrived in Downshire following the Norman conquests and stayed for a thousand years before the name died out following the death of the reclusive Marcus Clerembeax at the age of 96.
The current owner was Yvonne Labuschagne, who decided to open it as a Hotel and Spa.
The Spa was a good attraction, but it was crucial for them to maintain a high occupancy rate, however things were tough in the Hotel trade with the success of Travelodge, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn Express and so places like the Palace needed to offer something extra to attract the guests, apart from the Spa.
So, they put on novelty weekends, such as “Murder Mysteries” and in addition, they had a sizable Ballroom which was used for special occasions, high days and holidays, which boosted occupancy and Spa numbers at the same time.
But it was necessary to offer guests as wide a range of activities as possible during their stay, to attract them in the first place, and hopefully to come back, which was why they bought and stabled horses up at Stevens Farm, in order to offer riding.
The Stevens farm bordered the Clerembeax Estate, so it was a natural choice and they it was a large farm which had at its centre a large farmhouse, parts of which dated back six centuries, which had been added to over the years to accommodate the changing needs of the family.
There were also a significant number of out building’s, including a stable block.
The farm was run by Russ Stevens and his three sisters, Mary, Rose and Muriel.
However, they had plenty of farm work to keep them busy, so they had little or nothing to do with the horses, so Hotel Manager Hannah Morgan employed the Storey Brothers, Adam and Craig to do the job.
The Stevens girls were all good looking, with red hair and striking Celtic green eyes, which didn’t go unnoticed by the two brothers but that was mainly because they were trying to get noticed.
But as the weeks passed into months nothing happened until the middle of August when Adam and Mary were in the barn stacking
Hay Bales and there was a coming together, and from that moment on their hearts were fused together.
Twenty-three-year-old Mary and her younger sister Rosie, although three years apart, could easily have passed for twins.
They were smaller than their other siblings, leaner and wiry.
Where they differed however was Rosie was a girlie girl and
Mary had always been a tomboy.
When they were younger Rosie always had painted nails and Mary always had grazed knees.
Mary loved Adam, despite his tendency to smell of manure, they had a modest home in a farm cottage about a mile from the farm and they had everything they needed.
When they first took over the cottage it was in such an awful mess, and very nearly uninhabitable, but between them they did a brilliant job, working seven days a week to get the cottage finished for themselves.
Once they had their own roof over their heads Mary and Adam could concentrate on enjoying each other.
But as much as she loved living with Adam she still loved to sit around the table at the farm house and natter with her siblings, which she did regularly over the 12 months she and Adam were together.
They were sitting there one day when Rosie walked in and said
“Blimey has Adam been in here?” Rosie said
“Yes, he popped in for a coffee” Muriel replied, “Can you still smell it?”
“Smell it I can taste it” Rosie retorted
August was a dry hot month, so was the beginning of September and it was one of those Indian summer days that the family were gathering in the kitchen, and when Mary walked up to the farm it was a fiercely hot day.
“God it’s so hot” she said as she walked in
“Sit down and have a drink” Muriel said “you look done in”
“I’m fine” she said “But I’ll take a cold drink”
Muriel went to the fridge and got out a bottle of water but when she turned around Mary had collapsed.
“Rosie! Russ!” she shouted and rushed to her sister
“What’s all the shouting about?” Russ asked “We were on our way”
But he stopped in his tracks in the doorway
“Call an ambulance” Muriel snapped as she knelt down on the floor next to her stricken sister
“No time for that” he said “I’ll call Adam”
So, he phoned Adam and he was there in under five minutes by which time Mary was sitting upright and taking a little water.
“Let’s get her in the car” Russ said
“I’ll be fine now” Mary insisted
“Nonsense” Muriel said “You need to get checked out”
“What about Adam?” she asked
“He’s on his way” Muriel replied
They got Mary in the back of Russ’s car just as Adam arrived
“We can’t all go” Rosie said “someone needs to stay here”
Muriel and Rosie looked at each other, neither of them wanting to volunteer.
“I’ll stay” Russ said and threw the keys to Muriel
“so, get going”
And then he watched as his sisters and Adam headed off to the hospital, until the car disappeared from view.
With the rest of the family at the hospital he was run ragged and he sat down in an armchair at the end of the day and put his feet up and promptly fell asleep.
It was about an hour later when he was woken from his slumber by loud laughter as two of his sister burst into the room.
“Aw look at the little tired soldier” Muriel said and walked over to him and kissed his forehead.
“Have some respect for the dead” Russ said sleepily
“I’ll put the kettle on” Rosie offered
“So, how’s Mary?” Russ asked
“They kept her in” Rosie said “Just as a precaution”
Russ was curious why he detected no concern in her voice and there was even the faintest hint of a smile.
“So, what’s wrong?” He asked Muriel
“Nothing’s wrong” she replied
“Then why have they kept her in?” he quizzed
Rosie returned from the kitchen and the two sisters stood in the centre of the room and linked arms
“She’s pregnant” they chorused
“What?” he exclaimed
“She’s four months pregnant” Rosie said proudly
”Everything is fine” Muriel said “they really did just keep her in as a precaution”
“We’re going to be aunties” Rosie said
“Then we should have something a little stronger than coffee” He said