It's summer 1975 and twelve year old Kathy finds herself living in the small village of Stagdale after her parent's painful divorce. The chance discovery of a diary written a generation earlier by Jewish boy, Max - an escapee from Nazi Germany, leads her on an epic hunt for the lost Saxon jewel of Stagdale.
Stagdale seems like a remote place when Kathy and her mother arrive from London, hoping to make a new life for themselves in the country. Nestled in a scrubby, chalk-scarred valley, Stagdale was once a well-kept, picturesque village, but the slow downturn of farming in the area has sent it into steady decline. Along its lanes and pathways sit decaying thatched cottages with mossy roofs and damp stonework. The manor house, Stagdale Hall, home to Lord Ethelbert is rumoured to have once been the seat of Saxon kings, but it is slowly slipping into a state of dilapidation. Despite the lack of opportunities few villagers have left Stagdale, they remain stubbornly insular and protective of their old ways and customs. Kathy and her mother rent a shabby cottage from Lord Ethelbert, who kindly reduces the rent to help them out.