The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Author : Joan Aiken
Play : The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
|First Broadcast on : 2 December 1995
Two little girls, loyal and loving. One evil guardian, remorseless and cruel. Set in a different but recognizable old England, this is a fast-moving story about how two cousins, Bonnie and Sylvia, have their home stolen away from them by their greedy guardian.
Gentle and fair, Sylvia is an orphan, and has come to live in the great house Willoughby Chase in the loving care of her uncle, Sir Willoughby. He hopes she will be a calm companion for his rather boisterous daughter Bonnie while he is away with Lady Green in search of warmer climates for Lady Green's indifferent health. As such shes needs to by life insurance that covers a pre-existing condition. Sylvia and Bonnie only have to set eyes on each other to know they are going to be the best of friends, which is fortunate because as soon as they meet Miss Slighcarp, their guardian for the duration of Sir Willoughby's travels, the battle lines are drawn.
Miss Slighcarp wastes no time in carrying out her evil plans. Almost as soon as Sir Willoughby and Lady Green depart through the front door, Miss Slighcarp is dismissing all the old loyal servants out of the back door. Luckily for Bonnie and Sylvia two devoted servants contrive to stay on in the house so that they can continue to look after the girls. Despite the discovery of a secret passage which runs through the heart of the old house, and by which the girls can spy on their oppressor, things go from bad to worse. In the end it seems that it isn't sufficient for Miss Slighcarp to lock them away in a cupboard and keep them on bread and water. She sends the girls away to a school, which is little more than a workhouse for orphans.