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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?

All this week Risky Regencies celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday. Monday through Saturday each of our blogs will relate in some way to Jane Austen, one of the greatest novelists of all time, a novelist who wrote with such acute authenticity about her own time that she gave subsequent generations such love of it that we still savor Regency novels today.

In celebration (and appreciation) of Jane Austen we will be giving away prizes to two of our Risky Regency commenters this week. Amanda has donated a signed copy of Carrie Bebris’s Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery Pride and Prescience, and I have a copy of Maggie Lane’s A Charming Place: Bath in the Life and Novels of Jane Austen to give away. Our winners will be selected at random from all the comments of the week and will be announced next Sunday, Dec 20.

Jane Austen visited Bath as a young woman, once the guest of her aunt, Mrs. Leigh Perrot, who was later falsely incarcerated for stealing a bit of lace. In 1801 Jane’s father decided to retire to Bath, thus Jane had to leave the country village of Steventon to live in a busy city with her parents. Not being wealthy, their circumstances in Bath were less than ideal and the years from 1801 to 1805 (when her father died) were not happy ones for Jane. It is thought that she did no writing in Bath. Still, the city provided her with many opportunities to observe the various characters who lived in Bath and those who visited to take the waters. Perhaps Catherine Moreland of Northanger Abbey reflects the youthful Jane’s impressions of Bath. Anne in Persuasion showed Jane’s more mature, less admiring view.

When Amanda and I visited Bath on the 2003 Novel Explorations Regency Tour, what often filled my mind was that Jane Austen had walked these same streets and saw the same sites.

This is one of the places she called home.

I could imagine her walking a street like this one.

To visit the shops

And gaze in the shop windows.

Maybe she would explore the city and walk down steps like this.

Or visit someone’s Georgian garden.

She, of course, would view the Royal Cresent

And, like we did, she would have danced in the Assembly Rooms.

That’s me, second to the left in the dark blue dress. Amanda is just a little left of center and Deb Marlowe is a little right of center.

If you have visited Bath, what was your favorite place to see? If you’ve never been to Bath, what would you like to see? Do you have any tidbits about Jane Austen’s time in Bath?

Remember to comment for a chance to win! And to visit every day this week

And, don’t forget, Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady is still in bookstores. Visit my website. I have a contest too.

How many of Amanda’s blogs revolve around fashion? She is our very own fashionista and we depend upon her to keep us up on all the rage from those historical ages.

I thought you might like to see what Amanda looks like when she comes upon a beautiful gown from the past. Here she is, complete with worshipful expression, at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. The photo is from our 2003 Regency Tour of England.

There’s more!

Amanda and me circa 2000, I think, dressed for the Beau Monde Soiree. This was Amanda’s Titanic costume.

My Regency dress was sewn by my personal modiste, Helen, who made the dress from a pattern created from an actual gown of the early 1800s. I think we could have done a better job of the hat but I love the dress. I just need to lose 20 lbs to wear it again.

Isn’t Amanda’s dress pretty?

Here’s another one. I’m guessing this is 2003.

Again my dress is by Helen, but is made from a Simplicity pattern (we learned our lesson on the real Regency dress!) but made of genuine Regency microfiber (hee hee)

This, I believe, was Amanda’s milkmaid costume and I could just see her alongside Marie Antoinette at the Hameau.

On that Regency tour of England, visiting Bath, we danced with the Jane Austen dancers in the same Assembly rooms where Jane Austen danced. This time Amanda dressed as the perfect Regency young lady.

This past summer at the Beau Monde Soiree, Amanda did not appear. Instead there was this unidentified young dandy. Here he is with, from left to right, Lady Julia (Justiss), Lady Louisa (Cornell), and Princess Keira, lately from India.

See? She is really our Regency fashionista!

Last week Scandalizing the Ton was a Fresh Fiction Featured Pick!
Don’t forget, this coming Sunday my friend Mary Blayney will be visiting. At Wet Noodle Posse we’re blogging about writing challenges.

Anything in particular you’d like me to blog about next week? Just let me know!

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