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Tag Archives: Greenwich

I’m returning home today after a wonderful week in England, and I want to show you some pictures of where I’ve been.

I’ve enjoyed reading about Amanda and Carolyn’s conference experience, but I think I can safely say that the conference I attended last weekend, the RNA Conference in Greenwich, London, had the best conference location ever! The weather was hot and sunny (I found it refreshing after the hot mugginess of Washington, DC) but the nights were awful. We stayed in student accommodation where the windows would only crack open and we would compare notes in the morning on how we kept cool. My technique? Have a cool shower and sleep on the wet towel.

We had a celebratory dinner in the Trafalgar Inn, which Dickens attended for whitebait suppers, and about which he wrote in My Mutual Friend.

I met some lovely people at the conference. Here’s Susannah Kearsley signing, and me with Lucy Inglis who writes the amazing Georgian London blog.

Here’s the Thames in the evening. I spent most of the time in Greenwich but went to the London Museum where I saw, among other wonderful things, the front door of Newgate Prison and a fantastic recreation of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

After the conference I traveled to Hampshire where I stayed with friends who happily took me to Chawton where we visited both Chawton Museum, Jane Austen’s home, and Chawton House, a gorgeous Elizabethan-Jacobean mansion which is now a library of women’s literature from the sixteenth to nineteenth century. Sadly we couldn’t take pictures inside.

Chawton House was one of the properties owned by Jane’s brother Edward, who was adopted by the Knight family and inherited their estate. He lived in Godmersham, Kent, but provided his mother and sisters with the permanent home of the cottage in the village.

We also went to Winchester Cathedral where Jane Austen is buried, and the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral. Here’s a 13th century carving from Salisbury that depicts an African man, almost certainly a cathedral workers\ who was immortalized by his colleagues. Who was he? How did he end up in Salisbury?

I’m also blogging today at Supernatural Underground and showing off more of my photos.

Remember A Damned Good Contest is still open!

I’m still talking about my trip–I blogged last week about visiting the Regency Town House in Brighton, but while I was in England I made two trips to London. On one, I took a guided tour of Mayfair, and blog about it today at the History Hoydens.

I also took a trip to Greenwich, traveling there on the river and it was freezing, but well worth it. For one, you really get an idea of how huge London is, and how impressive the Thames is, with its wonderful meandering curves. You travel past a lot of reclaimed and tarted up wharves (now owned by people who are probably deeply regretting the investment), and past the London Eye, the Globe and the replica of the Golden Hind.

And Greenwich itself is amazing. I visited the National Maritime Museum where you can see the coat Nelson wore when he died and the barge King George I rode in when Handel’s Water Music was performed.

But it was outside the Park that I discovered what has to be one of my favorite museums, the Fan Museum. Check out their site because it has some really wonderful images and information. The museum is in a gorgeous, impeccably restored Georgian house on a pretty, quiet street–quiet for London, that is! This isn’t actually a photo of the museum but of the street itself, and everything was green and lovely because it was raining. The houses are quite small and would probably have been occupied by merchants or retired Naval officers (I like to house mistresses in Greenwich but I’m not sure why).

It also has an award-winning bathroom and a lovely garden. Yes, the English give out awards for Best Loos, and it was really splendid. As were the contents of the museum and the wonderful, knowledgeable staff. One of the things I found fascinating about the fan industry was that women were featured very strongly in fan manufacturing. Another is that the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers, the guild established in 1709 and which sounds straight out of Terry Pratchett, is still going strong and has made a flawless transition into modern times with the adoption of air-conditioning, aviation, and aerospace industries. No kidding.

You can also see some great pictures of fans at Candice Hern’s fabulous collection.

If you fancy owning a fan yourself, here’s a gorgeous Regency one, with its original box, for sale at The Cupid and the Swan.

And, oh yes, the so-called secret language of the fan … well, if everyone can decipher it, it’s not much of a secret, is it? The staff of the museum assured me it was purely a Victorian marketing ploy.

And now for my big news: I have sold a two-book deal, Immortal Jane, to HarperCollins. The first one, coming out next summer, is about Jane Austen joining forces with sexy vampires to save the city of Bath from the dastardly French. My working title, which I hope I can keep, is Blood Bath (groan). Oh yes, I’m gonna have fun with this. I’m excited! I am, in fact, fanning myself even as I write… it’s almost as good as a cream tea (my brother had the coffee. For some reason, cream coffee just doesn’t sound as good).

Have you had any writing successes or read or eaten anything good recently?

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I’ve decided to go to London this spring for a few days. The major purpose of my trip is to visit the Old Man my Father (who is not a tree) but for the first time in my life I’m going to stay for a few days in London and play tourist. And it seems weird, but I feel I don’t know the city at all, despite having lived there for a few years (a long time ago); the last time I was there was ten years ago.

Stuff changes. I think the only city in England, other than my home town, that I feel I still know, is Bath–i.e., I don’t get lost immediately after leaving the train station. But London is always changing and reinventing itself.

So, on the list so far:

Burlington Arcade. Super posh, the world’s first indoor shopping mall and almost 200 years old, and still with a policy of keeping out the riff raff (it was built by Lord Cavendish who lived next door and was tired of people throwing oyster shells into his garden). Not that I’m going to buy anything there; but looking is free.

The Sir John Soane’s Museum, which I’ve heard is amazing and full of Regency goodness.

And from there, a quick jump over the river to The Globe. Will I get to a performance? Maybe. The friend I intend to meet up with in London is a real theater fan.

While on that side of the river, there are a few other places I’d like to go to, including the house in Deptford where Marlowe was murdered–apparently it’s still standing though I haven’t been able to find anything out about its location.

And further east, but on that side of the river, Greenwich–old pubs, the National Maritime Museum (full of Nelson goodness as I remember), the Cutty Sark, and the view over the river to Hampstead on a clear day; and also whatever spiffy new developments are on the other side of the Thames now. If I can, I intend to get there by river, going past St. Pauls and the Tower and all that good stuff.

So if you were in London for two or three days, what would your agenda be? (Noting how unfavorable the exchange rate is to the dollar). And do you like to plan or just do things on the spur of the moment?

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