Remember Remember

When I was last at the Tower I was excited to spend some time inside the Lieutenant’s House. This pleasant dining room is actually the chamber where Guy Fawkes was “questioned” … and his view, if he could even lift his head, was over Tower Green. The Gunpowder Plot would have flattened the House of Parliament (although there is some doubt that the gunpowder itself was fresh enough to ignite). Happy Bonfire Night!

The Ghosts of Lydiard Tregoze

My daughter and I spent the night alone at Lydiard once, hoping to meet some of our ghostly relatives. Alas, although we crept up secret staircases and slept in an ancient four poster bed, none appeared. Perhaps they accepted us as part of the family, and weren’t worth the effort. But, reported apparitions at the Manor include that of Sir John St. John (1585-1648), who has been sighted in the Morning Room and Library. A drop in temperature is said to be noticeable before he appears, followed by the smell of “sweet tobacco”. He is also seen walking in the grounds, where a phantom Civil War-era drummer boy silently beats his drum, perhaps in memory of Sir John’s three sons who died in the war. Not so specific, but still rumored, is a White Lady and a phantom coach and horses.

St. Mary’s Church is haunted by more members of the family including a malevolent grey hooded figure (I’m glad we didn’t bump into that one). The sounds of a female crying, a choir singing and organ music have been heard – long after the last person has left and the door locked behind them.

The Court at Oxford

I was fortunate to be able to attend the HNS Conference in Oxford last month, and took the opportunity to explore the Colleges that housed the royal court during the Civil War. As I write my new book, I find myself often looking at the photographs I took, knowing that my characters stood in the same place and saw the same buildings and carvings. Here’s Merton College…and the rooms above the archway is where Queen Henrietta Maria lodged during the Civil War.

English Historical Fiction Authors: The Marriage of George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Manners

Many readers have asked about George Villiers, The Duke of Buckingham, who was responsible for so much mayhem in my book. Although well known for being the favorite of King James, and later, BFF with his son, Charles I, Buckingham was also a ladies’ man.

This is an excellent background article about the “other” George Villiers.

English Historical Fiction Authors: The Marriage of George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Manners

Swindon in the Past Lane | Good Gentlewomen

Thank you, Swindon Historian Frances Bevan, for such a nice review on her blog, Swindon in the Past Lane. What’s even more fun is all the interesting information you provided about the polyptych, which was certainly a big inspiration for my novel. Frances also posted her review on her brilliant site Good Gentlewomen, a fascinating record of St.John women through the ages, and a site that I return to again and again for its wonderful accounts.


English Historical Fiction Authors: “The Six Lady St.Johns”

I recently was asked to contribute an article to the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, and very much enjoyed writing the “back story” to The Lady of the Tower. We writers always have trouble saying goodbye to our research, let alone whole chunks of our writing, so it was a great opportunity to air out the facts behind the novel.  When you read of the lives of “The Six Lady St.Johns” I think you’ll find why I found their stories so fascinating and felt compelled to write The Lady of the Tower. This beautiful photograph is of Lydiard House, Wiltshire, where the six sisters were born in the late 1500s.