During a day trip to Scotney Castle in Kent, Nesbit’s friend Oswald Barron, for whom Oswald Bastable was named, suggested that ‘Old Cyrals’, a knot of houses to the southwest of the village of Brenchley, might be a corruption of the Breton name Kyriels. This inspired Nesbit’s novel for adults The Secret of Kyriels (1889). Barron is also believed to have suggested the plot for The Railway Children.
Scotney Castle, a National Trust property, is an English country house with beautiful formal gardens located to the south-east of Lamberhurst in the valley of the River Bewl in Kent.
The de Criol, Kyriel or Kyriell family, which originated from Criel-sur-Mer, Seine-Maritime, in Normandy, built up a position in Kent from the middle of the 14th century. One prominent member of this family, Sir Bertram de Criol, was a senior and trusted Steward and diplomat to King Henry III. He served as Constable and Keeper of Dover Castle, Keeper of the Coast and of the Cinque Ports, Keeper of the receipts, expenses and wardships of the archbishopric of Canterbury, Constable of the Tower of London, and Sheriff of Kent.
“Old Cryals” farmhouse, a grade II listed building dating back to the early fourteenth century can be found in Brenchley in the borough of Tunbridge Wells. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the land around the village was given to Richard FitzGilbert, cousin of William the Conqueror. The current All Saints church was built around 1233, most likely on the site of an old wooden structure. The village has many very attractive old timbered and shuttered buildings with a beautiful high street and village centre by the church. The nearest station is Paddock Wood, where trains from Ashford to London run frequently.