Foxfield

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A small farming community between Arkham and Aylesbury along the shores of the Fox River.

Background

Foxfield was originally developed by Lovecraft for an unfinished project. It was rediscovered by S.T. Joshi in 1994, preserved in a map of Foxfield in Lovecraft's hand, "Plan of Foxfield - for Possible Fictional Use". Will Murray discusses Foxfield in Lovecraft Studies #33 (Fall 1995) pages 18-23, "Where Was Foxfield" (the back page has a reconstructed map). Lovecraft's map and notes indicate that Foxfield is east of Aylesbury and Dunwich, and northwest of Arkham.

Description

Foxfield, rough map

As described by Keith “Doc” Herber in the scenario "Proof of Life":

  • "…explore farther up the street, past the church… to the Fox River and the ruins of the abandoned mill looming over the far bank. It’s the dry season, and the river is barely more than a trickle. Down Stream an old covered bridge crosses the Fox River, and a dirt road leads past the mill, toward the northern farms."

As described in the scenario "Dead Leaves Fall":

  • 25 miles (40km) or so Northwest of Arkham, just before where the Fox River joins into Miskatonic River, is a small town called Foxfield. It should take investigators 2-3 hours to get to Foxfield by automobile from Arkham.
Pickering Mill
  • Pickering Mill: Once a prosperous mill town, Foxfield is now a shell of its former self with none of the mills in operation. A collection of local farms the locals may refer to as "stables" used to house the Polish and Russian immigrant workers back in the day when the Pickering Mill was up and running, the farms were sometimes named after the predominant nationality of the workers who stayed there (e.g., "Poles' Farm"). After the Pickering Mill burned down and there was no work anymore, the immigrant workers left Foxfield to find labor jobs in other cities.
  • Foxfield Unitarian Church: Most striking when entering Foxfield is a huge church steeple from the Gothic Revival-style Unitarian Church, Interim Minister Graham West oversees the church in the 1920s.
  • Local Police: The town does not employ police, and relies on the Massachusetts State Police (State Trooper Author Dewey in the 1920s) for legal intervention. For the most part, there is no police presence in the area unless they are called in (it will take upwards of 20 minutes for police to arrive in the 1920s).
  • Witches' Hollow: a haunted region surrounding a curious grove of trees and a broad, flat mound.

Witches' Hollow

An area near Foxfield, called Witches' Hollow, located along course of the Fox river, and consisting of very little more than a collection of rural farms and isolated cottages, with a small private school nearby. On the road to Witches' Hollow, one encounters a dark hollow with unnaturally swollen hemlock and beech trees, out of which rises a broad, flat mound shunned by the locals.

There are old rumours of witches' sabbaths and Indian powwows once held on the mound and in its surrounding grove of peculiar trees, a shunned area known by the locals as a "daemon-temple", but such legends are hard to account for.

Quotes

Like Foxfield, Witches' Hollow seems to have been a setting that H.P. Lovecraft was developing for some stories he was planning, but never got a chance to start writing; the location appears to have been borrowed from Oliver Wendell Holmes' short story "The Guardian Angel", and according to some speculation (based on scant but suggestive circumstantial evidence in "Where was Foxfield?" by Will Murray) may have been under development by Lovecraft as Foxfield itself. First mentioned in Lovecraft's Commonplace Book in a couple of very roughly-sketched story ideas; Witches' Hollow never appeared in any known Lovecraft stories, though it did feature in a Derleth "post-humous collaboration", "Witches' Hollow (fiction)".

"N.E. region call'd 'Witches' Hollow' - along course of a river. Rumours of witches' sabbaths and Indian powwows on a broad mound rising out of the level where some old hemlocks and beeches formed a dark grove or daemon-temple. Legends hard to account for. Holmes - Guardian Angel." - H.P. Lovecraft, "Commonplace Book (fiction)"
"Witches' Hollow novel? Man hired as teacher in private school road on first trip - encounters dark hollow with unnaturally swollen trees and small cottage (light in window?). Reaches school and hears that boys are forbidden to visit hollow. One boy is strange - teacher sees him visit hollow - odd doings - mysterious disappearance or hideous fate." - H.P. Lovecraft, "Commonplace Book (fiction)"
"By and by the banks of the river grew lower and marshy, and in place of the larger forest-trees which had covered them stood slender tamaracks, sickly, mossy, looking as if they had been moon-struck and were out of their wits, their tufts of leaves staring off every way from their spindling branches. The winds came cool and damp out of the hiding-places among their dark recesses. The country people about here called this region the "Witches' Hollow," and had many stories about the strange things that happened there. The Indians used to hold their "powwows," or magical incantations, upon a broad mound which rose out of the common level, and where some old hemlocks and beeches formed a dark grove, which served them as a temple for their demon-worship. There were many legends of more recent date connected with this spot, some of them hard to account for, and no superstitious or highly imaginative person would have cared to pass through it alone in the dead of the night...." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Guardian Angel"
"The place where I saw these sights is called, as I have been told since, Witches' Hollow. I had never been there before, and did not know that it was called so, or anything about it. The first strange thing that I noticed was on coming near a kind of hill or mound that rose out of the low meadows. I saw a burning cross lying on the slope of that mound. It burned with a pale greenish light, and did not waste, though I watched it for a long time, as the boat I was in moved slowly with the current and I had stopped rowing.... I heard a faint rustling sound, and on looking up I saw many figures moving around me, and I seemed to see myself among them as if I were outside of myself. The figures did not walk, but slid or glided with an even movement, as if without any effort. They made many gestures, and seemed to speak, but I cannot tell whether I heard what they said, or knew its meaning in some other way...." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Guardian Angel"

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