ON A visit to Saltaire village and Salts Mill author Frances Brody walked with a friend through Roberts Park and along a pathway through woodland to the site of the long-gone 19th century mansion Milner Field.

“I first approached the site of the house from the Saltaire direction, through the park,” she says. “There was a desolate feeling of loss at a house so big and grand having given way to trees and weeds, and yet having left its mark.

“Trees grow where once fine house stood. There are traces of the conservatory’s mosaic floor, a fraction of wall, a glimpse into a cellar, blocks of stone,a few well-made bricks, and weeds among the rubble.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Frances at the site of Milner Field mansionFrances at the site of Milner Field mansion

"The next time I approached was from the top of the Higher Coach Road, Baildon. There are great chunks of masonry, and a deeper look into the cellars because people have been doing some digging out. I had the powerful feeling that the house was clinging on, demanding to be remembered."

An Elizabethan manor house was demolished to make way for the new Milner Field, and of that former house there is no trace.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The magnificent Milner Field mansionThe magnificent Milner Field mansion

The new Milner Field mansion was the dream house of Titus Salt, son of Sir Titus Salt, the wealthy textile manufacturer who opened his new mill near the banks of the river Aire in 1853. It is also the place where author Frances Brody has set her latest novel. Released on October 20, A Mansion for Murder is the 13th in the Kate Shackleton murder mystery series.

Intrigued by a mysterious letter from a stranger offering important information, Private Investigator Kate Shackleton arrives in the mill village of Saltaire. At nearby Milner Field mansion, overshadowed by its reputation for misfortune, she expects to meet the letter writer, Ronnie Creswell.

Kate soon hears the shocking news that Ronnie has been killed. At first his death appears to be a tragic accident at the mill, but it becomes clear that Ronnie's demise was no mishap and Kate is enlisted to help investigate the murder.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The 13th Kate Shackleton mysteryThe 13th Kate Shackleton mystery

She moves into the tower rooms at Milner Field, as she tries to uncover resentments, industrial espionage, and old secrets in the close-knit village. Although Kate doesn't believe in curses, she wonders what sinister truth lies behind this latest in the litany of deaths connected to the infamous mansion.

Then, just when things couldn't get any worse, a young girl in the village goes missing, and Kate must summon all her strength and skill to unravel the mystery around the mansion once and for all.

“What remains of Milner Field mansion are the stories of a house with a reputation as unlucky, a risky place to set down roots,” says Frances.

“These stories and the scant remains of former grandeur inspired this story of Kate Shackleton’s investigations, a work of fiction. For the facts, I highly recommend Milner Field, The Lost Country House of Titus Salt Jnr, by Richard Lee-Van den Daele and R David Beale.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Author Frances BrodyAuthor Frances Brody

Frances will be signing her novels on Thursday October 20 between noon and 1pm at Salts Mill Bookshop, Saltaire. On Friday October 21, she will be launching her new book at Waterstones in the Wool Exchange, Bradford, between 6.30pm and 8pm.

*A Mansion for Murder by Frances Brody is published by Little, Brown Book Group at £8.99