Hilary Townsend was born and brought up in the Blackmore Vale area of North Dorset, where she still lives. It is a relatively unknown part of Dorset and she has always loved it. During her career as a personnel manager in industry and college lecturer in management subjects, she wrote constantly in connection with her work. Then the stone tiled roof of her North Dorset house, Silk Hay, threatened to fall down. To her astonishment, the house was found to be part of a medieval hall house with a Tudor extension, and the expense of the repairs enormous. Desperate for money, she took a short course in journalism and wrote about medieval property and customs for North American magazines and a radio station, work which was well received on a continent with no really old houses. Made redundant when her college closed, Hilary was able become a full time writer and broadcaster. `I wrote about anything an editor could be persuaded to take`, she says. `And I still do`. She was accepted as a member of the Society in 1991, then as a member of the Society of Authors. Later the house was severely damaged by a leaking highway drain, bringing more expense and the exciting discovery of original features concealed for centuries. Hilary’s latest book, Silk Hay, is an account of ‘the persistent setbacks, difficulties and frustrating delays that beset her during the thirty years the restoration of the house took. She has written and published material about every stage of the restoration of the house,  and now writes magazine features and lectures widely about the work, while making it available to specialists in vernacular architecture. She also writes and gives lectures about the Blackmore Vale, its history, landscape and customs and gives readings of the poetry of William Barnes and Thomas Hardy. Her other books include: Discover Dorset – The Blackmore Vale and Blackmore Vale Childhood (The Dovecote Press).
HILARY TOWNSEND