On the Way to the Retreat

Like Elena, this past weekend I was at a Retreat–Washington Romance Writers Spring Retreat. Not to work, but to be “In the Company of Writers.” We had speeches and workshops and Romance Jeopardy and much conversation. More about that on Thursday at Diane’s Blog.

Melissa James, my Aussie friend who lives in Switzerland, and I started being “in the company of writers” even before the official start of the Retreat. We joined my critique partners, Lisa Dyson and Darlene Gardner, for lunch and a visit to an historical estate in Leesburg, VA, Morven Park. (L to R: Lisa, Melissa, Darlene)
Morven Park reminded me so much of English country estates in Regency times, not that its heyday was in the early 1800s. Rather, its grand days were 100 years later, in the first half of the 1900s. Westmoreland Davis and his wife Marguerite Inman Davis were a wealthy couple originally from Old South families who had made fortunes in New York. In 1903 they purchased Morven Park, a Greek revival house originally built in 1750, and 1000 acres surrounding it. Davis was an engineer and a lawyer, but he embraced the role of farmer, publishing a farming journal and utilizing the latest farming techniques. His wife ran the house and designed the gardens.
What reminded me of a Regency estate was the way Davis conceptualized the role of gentleman farmer. He felt a great deal of responsibility for his farm workers and for the owners and workers of the surrounding farms. Like a Regency lord might feel a sense of responsibility for an entire village, Davis made certain his community prospered along with him. During the Depression, for example, Davis never laid off any workers. He funded the town’s library and paid the librarian during the Depression. He even served in government. He was governor of Virginia from 1918 to 1922.
It was that sense of responsibility for others in the community that reminded me of a Regency lord. Like Davis, the best Regency lord would have known that people around him could either prosper or suffer, depending upon the decisions made. Like a Regency gentleman, he would have been a farmer, his fortunes rising or falling due to the crops grown there.
Morven Park was a surprise and a delight. And the perfect start to a wonderful weekend. But more about that on Thursday.
How was your weekend?
Later today visit my website for new news and a new contest!

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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