I’m delighted to share that I have been appointed US Ambassador for the Friends of Lydiard Park. In this role, I will bring you news and information on Lydiard Park and St. Mary’s Church as we enter into this exciting new period for the house and its environs. From restoration works to house events; research on the St.Johns and their wide-ranging relatives, to news and updates on the progress of the new management, I’m so excited to be a part of Lydiard’s future. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about this beautiful, unique place, as much as I enjoy writing about it.
I’ll be giving at Author Talk on The Lady of the Tower at Lydiard as part of the Swindon Festival of Literature, May 4th. It’ll be so exciting to be in the setting for my book, and I’m so looking forward to being part of this wonderful Festival – in its 24th year.
The Lydiard Park Heritage Trust has been recommended as the preferred bidder to take over the running of Lydiard. THANK YOU to everyone who signed petitions, wrote letters, attended meetings and provided so much support and encouragement over the past eighteen months. The decision will be formalised at next week’s Council meeting. We are so excited to share the vision for Lydiard that will preserve its legacy and assure its future.
I just spent the weekend in Manchester, and had a wonderful time exploring Bramall Hall in Stockport. Truly an unexpected gem, a gorgeous Tudor Manor House, with so much still intact – including its stunning 16th century wall paintings in the solar, some of the finest in Europe. I particularly wanted to see the Elizabethan kitchen, and was not disappointed.
A huge thank you to all my readers who took the time to post a review on Amazon and Goodreads, and to write to me personally about your experience reading The Lady of the Tower. It has been so incredibly humbling and exciting to know how much you’ve enjoyed meeting Lucy and her family. Thank you, thank you.
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!
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.
So proud of the all the work my brother and sister-in-law have done to preserve Lydiard. I hope with all my heart that the council will see the enormous importance of continuing the legacy.
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.