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Monthly Archives: August 2017

I love strange little bits of real history to decorate my books with. Sometimes you stumble across them randomly and jot them down for later use, and sometimes you’re in the middle of the book and you can’t stand to write yet another ball. So what’s an author to do? Go looking for cool things that happened when your book is set (much easier if you’re vague, which I can’t seem to manage, LOL!). This list is courtesy of one of my favorite books for finding strange tidbits: The Annals of London by John Richardson.

First Sunday Newspaper,   1780
It was called the British Gazette and Sunday Monitor, published by E. Johnson, a London Printer.

The Toothbrush was Invented, 1780
This one blows my mind. William Addis set up at 64 Whitechapel High Street as a “stationer and rag-merchant’. He sold the brushes though his contacts in the bookselling trade of all things. And yes, the current sportswear company is related.

Horsehair toothbrush said to have been used by Napoleon Bonaparte

The First Shop Front, 1782
The first proper shopfront (the classic double-fronted windows with displayed merchandise) was set up by a draper on the north side of Leicester Square.

First Balloon Ascent in England , 1783
Count Zambecarri launched the unmanned flight from the Artillery Ground at Finsbury on the 25th of November. It landed 48 miles away in Petworth.

First manned Balloon Ascent, 1784
Vincenzo Lunardi launched himself into the sky on the 15th of September from the Honourable Artillery Company in City Road. One hundred thousand people, including the Prince of Wales showed up to watch the launch.

George Biggin’s ascent in Lunardi’s balloon (Julius Caesar Ibbetson, 1785)

Far-Reaching Cricketing History, 1787
Lord’s Cricket Ground opened on the 31st of May with a match wager of 100 guineas on each side.

The Linnean Society Founded, 1788
James Edward Smith, a medical student, bought the library and collection of Carl Linnaeus (he of the long-necked giraffe theory) and set it up in his apartment in Paradise Row. The first meeting was April 8th, with 36 fellows and 16 associates.

Frost Fair, 1789
At the beginning of the year, the Thames froze over from Putney to Rotherhithe. On January 9th, a whole ox was roasted on the ice.

The Frost Fair of 1814, by Luke Clenell.

So much of the time, our Regency stories evolve in the settings of the elegant mansions, grand townhouses and large country estates of the rich aristocrats who people the stories. There’s good reason for that, for certainly the elegance helps the romance! But lately I’ve been on a “cottage kick”.

There are two reasons for this (besides just that English cottages can be so adorable) One is that my current WIP has my high-born hero stranded in a very small and lowly village (at Christmas, no less) which is all farms and small village houses except for the local manor and the vicarage, of course. The other is rocks. Yes, I said rocks.

In view of the current fad for painted rock “fairy houses” that people are putting in their gardens, I agreed to paint some for my church’s Holiday Bazaar in December. Do you know how hard it is to find good rocks with a shape that lends itself to becoming a cottage? Even for fairies?

My tendency is to go for thatched roofs and the often-crooked charm that comes from centuries of standing in a lovely English garden. I’d show you some of mine if any were finished yet!! LOL. But I have collected a lot of cottage pictures to inspire my efforts, and I thought I’d share some.

I’m not going to turn this into a research post or talk about how very different in style and materials the cottages can be in every different area of Great Britain. There is no such thing as a “definitive” English cottage style unless you consider the “picturesque” revival movement that began towards the end of the Regency period. At that point, architects including Nash pondered what elements made up “cottage style” and purposely designed new homes to capture that charm. I just thought it would be fun to share a little overview!

This is a short post (having some health issues, sorry!!) YOUR turn! How romanticized is my view? Which cottages do you like best?  One of these is NOT in the U.K. –I wonder if you can spot the “fake”? Are you into any of the current painted rocks trends? (Fairy houses being only one of many going around.) Finally, a lovely rock house (painted by someone else).

If/after someone guesses the “fake”, I’ll post in the comments where some of these are to be found! Or perhaps you’ll recognize some of them!







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