Joy Stonehouse

I write historical fiction based on the early 1700s in East Yorkshire – specifically the village of Reighton in Filey Bay. My debut novel, Witch-bottles and Windlestraws, starts a series about the Jordan family as yeomen farmers.

The setting was chosen because my mother was a Jordan whose ancestors came from Reighton, and I chose the period because the Jordans were one of the dominant families at the time living at Uphall. 

It was while delving into my family history that the names and events discovered took on a substance I had not envisaged. Parish records revealed a close-knit community of large families; the vicar lived in a small vicarage with his wife, son and eight daughters. 

Researching further, I found an abundance of material for an imaginative reconstruction – The Great Storm of 1703 was well-documented by Daniel Defoe with eye-witness accounts and, in 1709, England experienced The Great Frost.

Courtships, betrayal, unrequited love and an inexplicable death are woven into a tapestry of 18th Century life and customs and the ever-challenging weather.

Book Two: A Story of Reighton, Yorkshire, 1709-1714
New Arrivals in Reighton
'She 'as trouble written right across 'er fore'ead.'
That's the verdict from Dorothy Jordan, mistress of Uphall, on the new farmhand. The girl and her brother, a handsome young ploughman, will have profound and unexpected consequences on the Jordan family in Reighton. Jealousy becomes a destructive power as courtships and rivalries are played out during the annual ploughing match, the midsummer bonfire, and the memorable festivities of Christmas.

And then there's young Mary, the daughter of William and Mary. Spirited, and with a huge appetite for life, her escapades cause a rift between her parents and divide opinion in the village on how a girl should be reared.

Yet, no matter what crises tear families apart, the struggle to survive ensures that life must go on. As old Ben says - ''ope for best, but prepare for worst'.
 Book Three: A Story of Reighton, Yorkshire, 1714-1720
Whisper to the Bees
Readers of the earlier books meet up with favourite characters in the village again – old Ben and his mule, Sarah Ezard, the midwife and healer, the puritanical Robert Storey, and George Gurwood, the long-suffering vicar living in the small vicarage with his wife and seven growing daughters. 
The title derives from the tradition of informing bees of the death of the beekeeper. But whose death?

The weather plays a huge role in daily life, as does superstition, old remedies, and the Church. 

Kindle ebook:


 Book Four: A Story of Reighton, Yorkshire, 1720-1727
Bonfires and Brandy

Continuing the story of the Jordan family—an unflinching portrayal of life in the East Yorkshire village three hundred years ago.

Deprived of a resident vicar, the youths enjoy sports and gambling. Young William becomes a bully, hell-bent on mischief and learns to use a gun, while his older brother falls for a woman eight years his senior.

Their father, as a ‘lenient’ customs officer, faces an overly keen, new member of the Excise. He has his work cut out to mislead the man while others, more violent, have different plans.

Mary, their pregnant mother, struggles in an all-male household. She knows that the village midwife-cum-healer is growing too old to work… so who will attend the birth?

Kindle Ebook:


  1. I have just read Witch-bottles and Windlestraws by Joy Stonehouse and absolutely loved it. Couldn't put it down. Enjoyed the rhythm of the seasons, fast moving and vibrant story line, the strength of the characters and the detailed historical setting. Looking forward to the next one and will definitely buy the following books. Highly recommended. Tamar Simpson

  2. Thanks, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the first book in the series. Now you can start reading the next one and experience more life in the early 18th century. There's certainly plenty of action in the village due to new arrivals.
    I'm hoping that Book 3 will be out late next year.


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