I’ve been writing historical romance for quite some time. You’d think I’d know EVERYTHING by now. But I don’t. I know that shocks you, but it’s true. Like most authors who set books in the past, I have a good grasp of the basics of my era (The Regency, doh) and a decent big picture of the Regency era. That’s never enough, of course.
With every book, I’ve either run across something I didn’t know or hadn’t seen before, or else needed some specific detail not in my research library or collection-O-Links. In Not Wicked Enough, for example, I ended up with a need to know about doorknobs. Really, really specific information. I found it, too, from a kind gentleman who is a member of a Doorknob collectors group. For Indiscreet, I had to go big and wide — Turkey in the Regency era. One of my first posts (possibly NSFW, as the post has naked women paintings) for the Riskies was the result of some of that research.
Sometimes I come across something while I’m doing something else ::cough::procrastinating::cough:: and I end up with a fact that I just have to use. Chimney ornaments and chimney glass in Not Proper Enough.
My current project is no exception. Yesterday I came across an amazing website. Before I send you off there to have a look, here’s how it came about: I was writing The Next Historical (Sinclair Sisters Book 2!) and I needed my heroine to call on my hero’s fancy Mayfair house which in Lord Ruin, I’d said was on Charles Street. So I went to Google maps and entered Charles Street, London England — not specific enough to be useful. I made up a street number (25) and THEN I had good results. I switched to Street View and uh-oh. Those houses were cute and clearly close to period, but they were small. I needed a mansion. For some reason I then searched for something like “historical regency interiors charles street” clicked on images and voila! 137 Charles Street is Dartmouth House and the street view is awesome. It’s also now a hotel/wedding location so there were lots of pictures of the interior, including some historical pictures.
In the middle of that Googling, I ended up at a site that was NOT on point as it turned out. Including the word “Regency” in a google search even with other words to filter out the not-even-close stuff, typically hits Real Estate sites. What I thought was one of those had a very interesting, atmospheric picture of Montague House, which I decided to look at. I like to pretend I can buy an English mansion. The website name was Ideal Homes, so, hey!
Since the picture is copyrighted, and since you should go look, here’s a link to the page I landed on. But come back! There’s more!
Obviously, 1) totally awesome 2) Not about buying or selling Real Estate. Oh, ho ho no!!
But what is this site?
Using a generous selection of old photos, old maps, and historic documents from the rich and unique archive and local history collections of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark, Ideal Homes explores the origins and significance of suburbia as revealed through the history of South London. The site is hosted by the University of Greenwich and was funded by the New Opportunities Fund.
I clicked the link A-Z Galleries
Carolyn About Faints: Historic Maps
People, this site is the motherlode for historical researchers. Then I randomly clicked around the South East London boroughs and wow. I am SO grateful to the UK for getting the funding out there to put this kind of resource out there for people. And grateful to the University of Greenwich for doing this. Here’s the about page. While I understand why they’ve called the website Ideal Homes, I’m not sure it was the best choice from a Google-Fu point of view, but I don’t care! I found it! It’s awesome.
Anyway, I wrote my scene, inspired by Dartmouth House (and unable to get Montague House of Blackheath Park out of my head) and when I was all done, I realized my heroine could not go to the hero’s house after all. So yeah. I’ll save most of it for when she DOES have to go.
But it was one of my better writing days.
My hero needs a rather run down estate and I think I’m inspired!