“Mapping” the Ton

When I’m writing a Regency, I like to try to be as authentic as I can be, so I do a lot of examining period house floor plans, looking at lots of photographs, thinking about carpets (see the comments on Andrea’s blog yesterday!). I almost always have a “real” house in mind for my characters, and I almost always try to set that house in a real place.

Much of Scandalizing the Ton takes place in Mayfair, so I did a lot of looking at maps of the area, trying to make certain I put Lydia’s house in a “real” part of Mayfair. When I wrote the first draft, the opening scene took place behind Lydia’s townhouse, in the mews. Note the cover. You can see the door of a stable in the background.

After I sent in the first draft of the manuscript, my editor, Linda Fildew (pictured on Amanda’s blog last Saturday), said one of the other editors walked through Mayfair at the location I’d given Lydia’s townhouse and there were no mews there. On the corner, however, there was a fence with a gate into the garden. So if you read the first scene , you’ll notice that Lydia and Adrian meet on the pavement and go through the gate to the garden. The cover had already been designed by then.

This wasn’t the end of my mapping woes, though. I received additional revisions. I thought I’d share a bit of how it went:

Linda: I’ve been poring over maps from the early 1800s and am struggling with the road layout. P1 Chesterfield Street appears to run south of Charles Street when the story has it running alongside Hill Street which is north of Charles.
From a modern map this road is called Chesterfield Hill, but can’t find this on the 1802 map of London’s streets that I’ve been looking at. Could I ask you to check this, please? You may have better recourse to maps than I do.

Diane: I’ve discovered the problem! On the modern map, the street that intersects with Hill Street is named Chesterfield Hill (Chesterfield in 1827 intersects with Curzon and Charles). In 1827 Chesterfield Hill was named John Street. I’ve made the changes.

Isn’t this the best? My editors walk Mayfair and pore over period maps!

The map I used for Scandalizing the Ton was Greenwood’s Map of London 1827 available online. Part of the Mayfair section of the map is shown above.

My question….Does it matter to you that the geography is right?

For more about the history of gossip and scandal that inspired Scandalizing the Ton, take a peek at my Behind the Scenes feature. For more of my mapping adventures check this Behind the Scenes.

I have a new contest on my website, several chances to win some of my backlist.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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