Monday, September 29, 2008

The Lady Flees Her Lord

Launch day is Wednesday October 1 for The Lady Flees Her Lord.

A new book on the shelves is wonderful and scary for an author, or at least it is for me, and I hope you will forgive this promotional piece for my new book.

I will be having a draw of a Jane Austen "approved" notebook for one commenter either here today or Thursday or on the Casablanca authors blog when I post there on Wednesday. Good luck.

The Lady Flees Her Lord, Sourcebooks Casablanca, October 1 2008

Running from a husband who abuses her because she unfashionably large has failed to produce an heir, Lucinda, Lady Denbigh, rescues a street urchin and poses as a widow with a small daughter.

Reclusive ex-soldier Lord Hugo Wanstead is back from the Peninsular Wars with a wound that won't heal and regrets that haunt his nights

When he encounters Lucinda, they both feel they've been offered a second chance, but when her husband discovers where she is, her life, her love, and her adopted child could all be destroyed ...

On Thursday I am going to post an excerpt never seen before. And next week, we will have fashion for October.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dinefwr Castle Wales

This is the castle in the backyard of Newton House. Dinefwr (pronounced Dinever) near Llandeilo. The view from the park if you like.

Its round tower or keep was crowned with a summerhouse in the 17th and 18th centuries. Later, it became a Romantic element in the landscaped park, which is why it shows up here. You can imagine the footmen slogging up the hill with the picnic and the table cloths so the master of Newton house could entertain his guests in prime style with a view to die for.

The ladies of course would want their drawing implements, and the gentlemen would clamber about over the ruins making erudite comments about the various walls and structures, and no doubt imagine themselves as knights.

It would also be a wonderful place for the children of the house to play.

I am not going to give you very much of its history, suffice it to say it was a Welsh stronghold in the llth and 12th centuries until overrun by King Edward 1 and thence fell into English hands. These second second two pictures are view from the top.

We drove up there through the sheep and up a winding track. Only parking for two cars, so most people walked, but since we had spent a considerable time in the house, we were lucky to find a spot to park.

The views of the surrounding countryside are stunning and I think provide lots of information for settings. I took heaps of pictures inside the castle of winding stairs, and arrow loops. Once of these days I would love to branch out and write a medieval. And this is one location I would love to use.

In the meantime, one of these days, I may well find my regency hero or heroine has a castle in his back yard.

Until next time Happy Rambles.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Newton House, Wales

A small reminder. My new book, The Lady Flees Her Lord will be out in two weeks. Am I excited. Yes.

Okay, Newton house is in Wales with a castle in the back yard.

I am going to start with the house. The first picture is the back of the house. The second overlooks the park.

The house was built in the 17th century, but is now wrapped in a gothic Victorian limestone facade. The landscape however is pretty well unchanged. When Capability Brown visited in 1775, he said "I wish my journey may prove of use to the place, which if it should, it will be very flattering. Nature has been truly bountiful and art has done no harm." In other words, he didn't think there was much he could do to improve it. The park remains more or less unaltered to this day. Some of the trees date by to the thirteenth century.

In this picture, you can see the deer. This is but one of the views across the house from the park and I have to say, it really was lovely. One ancient tradition relates to the white cattle found on the estate. They have been at Dinefwr for a thousand years and are a symbol of the power of the Welsh Princes. The laws of Hywel Dda, a 10th century leader of Deheubarth, refer to fines and payments recovered with white cattle.

While the outside of the walls was changed, and there was remodeling done inside over the years, the basic structure seems to have remained fairly well intact.

The original house was a fortified farmhouse. It had towers in each corner. Domed roofs were added to the towers in around 1750. It was really neat that each of the rooms in the corners had little hexagonal rooms off them (inside the tower) with stairs off them. Of course, visitors aren't allowed, but it gave the rooms a very unique look and feel.

The last thing I am going to show you is the ice house. Now if you have been following this blog you will know I have a fascination for ice houses. One of these days I am going to put them all up on my web site. Newton House also has an ice house. It is set off in the woods, and would have been used to help keep the meat from the deer park fresh. According to the guide, because of the location of the ponds servants would have cut the ice and carry it up to the ice house very early in the morning so as not to disturb their employers. It was a distance of about one mile.

Deer meat would be stored on shelves around the edge of the round house or hung from the roof.

Next time we will take a look at the castle. Not because it was regency, but always because it was there in the regency. And quite honestly what could have been better but your own ruin. People paid a fortune to have them built.

Until next time. Happy Rambles.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Searching for Regency England

I promised one last blog on Margam. I wanted to show pictures of the original house, primarily because it should have been there in the Regency, the house we saw in the earlier blog having been built in the 1830's. The estate belonged to the Mansel family, a landowner and knight raised to a Baronetcy in the early seventeenth century and the peerage in 1711 by Queen Ann.

The title became extinct and the estate went to the Talbot family. The house was demolished around the end of the eighteenth century 1792-93. These bird's-eye view paintings give a wonderful overview of the house.

The house had its origin in the converted domestic buildings of the medieval abbey. The picture above is the north view, or the back of the house, and while the house stretches out to the east, at the centre west can be see the ruins of the monastic chapter house, and the absence of fine windows at the western end suggest this was the service and stores end of the back of the house. Coal was kept in the chapter house during this period.
The front of the house is very different, but clearly shows its expansion over the years. To the right, or the east is the medieval gatehouse, behind which is a walled in courtyard, the the far west Corinthian columns or pilasters rise up in grand style above a door way.

A summer banqueting house was set off to the far right from the main building and overlooked the deer park. While we can regret its loss, it is not hard to see why the owners might have wanted to replace the rambling old seventeenth and eighteenth century buildings with something more up to date. On the other hand, to set a novel in such a house is very appealing.

I hope you enjoyed these two pictures. I have one more house in Wales I want to show you in my search for Regency England next time.

Until then, Happy Rambles

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Searching for Regency England

We were talking about Margam, which is located near Neath (Castell-nedd) and Port Talbot. I fell in love with these trees in the park.

One of my biggest disappointments was the fact that we could not enter the house which burned out in 1977.

The park contains the largest herd of fallow deer to be found in south Wales and thought to be descendants of a small herd brought here in the fifteenth century. So there would have been deer here during the Regency.

Another building we would have seen during our era was the remains of the abbey, founded in 1147 by the Earl of Gloucester and given to the Cistercian monks from Clarvaux Abbey in France.

It became the largest and wealthiest abbey in Wales and once held a copy of the Domesday Book, now owned by the British Library.

Pictured here is the remnant of the twelve sided Chapter House.

And from a bit further away, with the end of the Orangery off to the side.

Imagine having that in your back yard.

While not strictly our period, I am going to put up some pictures of the house that was on the property, prior to the current castle. Its loss is to be mourned, but if I can get the pictures to download, I think you will agree it is worth recording it, if for nothing else, a setting for a story and a look at an earlier time on which our Georgian period is based.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Searching for Regency England

Did you miss me? Or did you take a peak at the other blog? It seems there is a new catch phrase for writers who guest blog and no one turns up, you are No Friends Nigela. I don't know if anyone has seen that cooking show? I like her, but lots of folks don't apparently. Anyway, I wasn't lonely lucy either. So now back to our regular programming.

I got a bit sidetracked over the past few months and there were one or two more places I wanted to bring to you from my last research trip.

Both of them are in Wales. The first one I wanted to chat about is Margam. Margam Park is built on the site of an abbey (closed in 1536).

The house pictured here was designed in 1827 and completed over the next several year. So it is Georgian, but not Regency. It is definitely romantic, with its mock battlements, clusters of tudor twisted chimneys, turrets and pinnacles. A great central pile of the house rises to a majestic octagonal tower. The architect was Thomas Hopper. The view of it here is the back of the house, which overlooks the park. It really is a ruin inside. So sad. But it is also gorgeous and fascinating and could just as easily have been built during the Regency, so I present it here.

These steps, to the west, lead to the orangery, which was finished in 1793, at the same time as the original house was being torn down.

It was built to contain a great collection of orange, lemon and other citrus trees. There were a great many legends about the origin of the trees, which indicate that while they were destined to be delivered to the crown the ship foundered and were claimed by the Mansells. Sounds like there might be a story in there somewhere.

By the mid 18th century there were over one hundred trees in greenhouses all over the park, and while they can stay outside in the summer, they must be taken in for the winter because of low temperatures. This orangery is gorgeous. It is long and narrow with 27 tall south facing windows to admit winter light and the plain black wall has fireplaces from which hot air passes through flues. It is beautifully augmented by fountains along its length, deeply-worked stone, friezes and sculptured urns

We have talked about orangeries before and this one has to be added as one of the most gorgeous ones of our era.

There is lots more to say about Margam, so I will continue next time.

Until next time, Happy Ramble.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Lady Flees Her Lord

Find me today blogging at Yankee Romance Reviewers, where you can read about my story, find out a little bit about the background and if you leave a comment, have a chance to win a book!

See you over there.

Until Next time Happy Rambles.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - September

One thing that happened in September and throughout the fall, was the sowing of seeds to lie dormant over the winter and be there in the Spring. So it was not all harvest home on the farms.

About the end of August, and during the whole of September, the second and last brood of caterpillars will be found; several species of Gryllus may also be taken in meadowy and marshy lands.”—Samouelle’s Introduction to British Entomology, pp. 316, 317.
Gryllus, dear reader, is a cricket and in England known as a field cricket. Apparently there are very few left now, indeed it is an endangered species and found only in one square kilometer in West Sussex, but in Regency times you would have heard them chirping away here and there.

Not exactly a pretty picture, but I felt quite sad to know that our crickets are losing ground fast.

The larva of the privet hawk-moth may now be found on the privet shrub, and its elegant appearance affords a contrast to the uninviting form of many of the caterpillar tribe.

Now there is a fine looking specimen for a heroine to find in her hedge. Elegant appearance? Hmm.

The sulphur butterfly also will frequently be seen in the bright mornings of September, flitting about the gay flowers of our gardens.

The whole image is delightful. Our naturist certainly waxes lyrical at times.

Well there is lots more for September, but call in same time next

In the meantime. Happy Rambles.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Regency Fashion for September

One month to The Lady Flees Her Lord. My word, it seems that the intervening months have flown by. I will be having quite a party on the week of the launch, so keep watching this space. And don't forget the chance to win a copy if you enter the contest to be found at the right of this post.

Yesterday was the Labor Day Holiday, and I did not labor. It was a beautiful weekend and we spent it by a lake. It was wonderful to watch osprey, and loons, as well as the usual gulls. We also caught a brief glimpse of a kingfisher. And the stars were wonderful. With no moon, one could almost reach out and touch the milky way. Aah, but now we have fashion.

This plate is from 1805 Ladies Monthly Museum. A little earlier than Regency, but I go by what is known as the long Regency. And three for the price of one. How good is that?

The descriptions are brief, but enough I think to give you the flavor.

Walking Dress
A round Dress of plain Muslin. A Pelisse of pale Blue Muslin, trimmed with White Lace. Mob Cap of worked Muslin. Buff Gloves.

Walking Dress
Dress of Cambric Muslin. A Shawl of worked Lace, with Embroidered Border. White Beaver Hat, and White Ostrich Feather.

Full Dress.
Head fashionably Dressed, ornamented with White Floss Feather, and Silver Leaves. Dress of Primrose Crape, Sleeves embroidered with Silver. White Gloves and Fan.

I found the blue pelisse in the first dress quite interesting, to me it looks more like a dressing gown, but very comfortable compared to the fitted spencers we so often see.

A Walking Dress from La Belle Assemblee for September 1816

Round dress of fine leno worn over either a white or peach-coloured slip; the dress flounced with the same, with a ribband of peach colour placed above the flounce. Loose sleeves, à la Caroline, confined by bands of peach coloured ribband. British Lady's Bonnet, the texture black, over peach color. The hair parted on the forehead. Half-boots, and gloves of peach-coloured kid

The sleeves are a very interesting feature, and I like that we get a good look at the half-boots.

This last is a court gown for the same year. I don't have a description, but the festoons of roses and the train and the headdress are a delight to behold, so I could not resist it.

Next time we will see if there is any flora and fauna of interest. Until then, Happy Rambles.