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Tag Archives: City of Bath

One of the joys of writing Historical Romance is the research and the best way to research is to go to the places you write about.

Some writers get a story idea and then they go to the location of the story and do some research. Me, I visit a place and then make up a story using that setting.

That’s what I did for A Lady Becomes a Governess, Book 1 of my Governess Swap series, out this month from Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon Historical. A Lady Becomes a Governess was mostly set in the Lake District. I visited the Lake District (and fell in love with it) on my last England trip with Kristine Hughes Patrone’s Number One London Tours.

Kristine and I also spent a day in Bath–the hottest day of the year there–90 degrees F. We walked Bath from one end to the other, seeing most of the famous buildings and streets, so when I needed a setting for Book 2 of my Governess Swap series, Bath was perfect.

My hero and heroine needed to walk Bath much like Kristine and I did. They walked from the Pump Room to the Royal Crescent to the Upper Assembly Rooms. Because I’d been there last year, I remembered vaguely where things were, but, for the book, I needed a map so I could be as accurate as possible.

I found a very cool one, HERE. It shows a present day map that can be overlaid with a historic map. You can move the circle to anywhere on the modern day map. My book is set in 1816, so I used the map from 1818.
This gave me the names of the streets in 1818, some of which were different than today.

Of course my hero and heroine had to visit the Royal Crescent and the Circus.
As I was researching the Royal Crescent and the Circus, I discovered that a navy Admiral, Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton, lived in the Circus and he fit perfectly into my book! I love when that happens.

I also needed two inns and a little searching led me to the AustenOnly blog and to the White Hart Inn, which was where Jane Austen had the Musgroves staying in Persuasion. The White Hart was torn down in 1869, but this wonderful blog even had a picture of the inn.
The second inn was where I briefly had my hero and heroine stay. The Westgate Inn was where the Royal Mail coaches stopped.

This year I’m going to Scotland with Kristine and Number One London Tours. I’ve never set a book in Scotland…….Here’s to a first time!

Do you ever use travel to inspire a story? Do you like to visit places where books, TV, or movies were set?

By the way, A Lady Becomes a Governess is available now in both ebook and paperback if ordered directly from Harlequin. The paperback will be at other online vendors June 19 and the ebook on July 1.

A week ago I was in England for a funerary visit (a very jolly affair, meeting up family members) but despite a cold (mine) and the cold (it was freezing over there!) I did do a few fun things.

First a visit to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford, which was wonderful. Here I am with my daughter and one of two pics I took before my battery died (as usual).

Exactly a week ago I was snuffling my way around Bath in very frigid temperatures–don’t let that blue sky fool you. We visited the Roman Baths and Pump Room and particularly enjoyed the warm, steamy inside parts of the tour.

You can buy a glass of disgusting Bath water for 50p but I think it just isn’t the same when it’s not drawn from water where people with various unpleasant ailments are bathing. We didn’t have afternoon tea at the Pump Room but we did have a Sally Lunn bun with lemon curd which we inhaled without even thinking of a photo opp.

Out into the cold again for a look at the Circus and Royal Crescent. Brrr.

At this point we were so cold and our train on which we had supercheap (as cheap as rail travel gets there) reservations was a long way off, so we went to see a movie, The Artist, which I highly recommend.

We also had time to drop in to William Herschel’s house, one of my favorite places in Bath. I have a soft spot for Herschel, who was a brilliant wacko (he thought people lived on the moon) and his house is beautifully restored.

He started his career as a musician and several of his instruments, including a serpent, are on display as well as artefacts relating to his career as an astronomer.

Here’s a gown belonging to his sister Caroline, a brilliant astronomer (a better one, according to the museum staff, than her more famous brother). She must have been tiny!

And I have to show you this pic of another English eccentric, my brother demonstrating his marmalade making exploits–yes, that’s a chair upended on the kitchen counter to drain the pulp. It’s Seville orange season, a busy time of year in England.

Have you visited any of these places? Ever made marmalade?

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Since we’ve just started our Venetia read this week I wanted to tell you a bit more about my aunts Phyl and Nell who introduced me to Heyer.

They were both born about a century ago in London, with my father (now 99!) as the baby of the family. Their parents were of Irish descent, their mother (my g-grandmother) was in service according to the 1901 census and their father a maker of brass musical instruments. Neither of my aunts married. They shared houses and when I was a child we visited them in their wonderful house in Bath, on Lansdown Place West. This may be their house, I can’t read the house number.

Lansdown Place West is the continuation of Lansdown Crescent, one of the most beautiful pieces of Georgian architecture in the city, constructed between 1789 and 1793 and designed by architect John Palmer. It’s higher than the more famous Royal Crescent, with an amazing view of the city.

In front of Lansdown Crescent is a field still used for grazing, one of the original design features of the Royal Crescent (and possibly other places too)–the idea being that you’d have the pleasures of the town with the healthful idyll of country life.

The only (so far as I know) famous, or infamous, occupant of Lansdown Crescent was William Beckford who lived at number 19 and 20 (the ones with the imposing frontage). The houses have four floors, servants’ quarters in the basement, and mews behind the Crescent.

My aunts showed me the city of Bath. They took me to tea at the Pump Room and Sally Lunn’s, boat rides on the river, tours of the Roman Baths, and walks around the city. There was a shop, now moved to a different location in the Guildhall, Gillards of Bath, which was very little changed from Victorian times. Loose tea, stored in massive metal containers, was measured on scales, tipped onto a sheet of brown paper, and folded into a miraculous neat cube, tied with string.

My aunts loved Heyer, Austen and Georgian/Regency architecture, fashions, and furniture long before they became popular, and picked up antiques for a song at jumble sales. They taught me it’s possible to fall in love with a place and I certainly fell in love with Bath, thanks to them. They even suggested I write, although at the time I thought it was a weird idea.

Their house on Lansdown Place West became too much for them–all those stairs and continual maintenance, so they moved to an early eighteenth-century house in Batheaston (lots of stairs and continual maintenance) a few miles east of the city. Again, this may or may not be their house but it’s very close!

I’m so grateful for what they gave me.

Who were your mentors for writing or any other passion?

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