Category Archives: Blog Hop

Guest Post: Inspiration and the Earl of Ormonde by Nancy Blanton

I am privileged to host author Nancy Blanton, author of Sharavogue and her newest work The Prince of Glencurragh. Today, she is going to tell us about the source of inspiration for her new work. Over to Nancy…

I first started reading historical fiction as a teenager. I only dreamed I would one day be writing it, not believing the dream could come true. But I’ve since learned that inspiration can come from anywhere, and often the drive with it.

While researching 17th century Ireland for my second historical novel, The Prince of Glencurragh, I was stopped in my tracks by an arresting portrait of James Butler, the 12th Earl of Ormonde and the 1st Duke of Ormonde. I knew right away I had to find out more about him, because he was going to be featured in the book.

When I learned he had ascended to earldom in 1634 at just 24 years of age, I realized he was a contemporary of the characters I was already constructing. This earl became quite powerful, and led the passionate Royalist stand against English dominance under the boot of Oliver Cromwell and his army. He seemed to embody the ideal of beauty, money, and power.

387px-james_butler2c_1st_duke_of_ormonde_by_sir_peter_lely

1st Duke of Ormonde by Sir Peter Lely (circa 1665) Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

This portrait captures Ormonde looking magnificent in ceremonial robes. He wears white satin trimmed in red and blue. Delicate hands grasp lance and sword; his jaw is proud, his eyes soulful and knowing. The long golden locks affirm his noble stature and remind me of a young, proud-faced Roger Daltrey, out to change the world in his own particular way – perhaps with similar sexual energy but without Daltrey’s penchant for fisticuffs.

No less appealing would have been James’s enormous wealth and power. He was born into a family tracing back to the Norman Invasion in the 12th century. The family seat became the great Kilkenny Castle from which they controlled the vast kingdom of Ormonde (including counties Waterford, Tipperary and Limerick).

Educated in London, James learned the Irish language, which was to serve him well later in life; and also met his cousin Elizabeth Butler, daughter of Sir Richard Preston, Earl of Desmond. Their marriage in 1629 ended the long-standing feud between the two families Butler and FitzGerald. In 1661, King Charles II created him the first Duke of Ormonde.

Biographer C.V. Wedgwood describes James Butler as a “high-hearted” nobleman: “Handsome, intelligent and valiant, he was also to the very core of his being a man of honor: loyal, chivalrous and just.”

And let’s not leave out dauntless. When the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Thomas Wentworth, ordered that the wearing of swords in Parliament would not be permitted, Ormonde told the official who tried to take his sword that the only way he’d get it was if it was “in his guts.” He ultimately won the argument.

In my novel, Ormonde brings his significant power and influence, his chivalrous mindset, and his own agenda to the story, along with a fierce belief in fairness, justice, and love.

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The Prince of Glencurragh, published in July 2016, is the three-time award-winning story of an Irish warrior who abducts a young heiress to help restore his stolen heritage and build the Castle Glencurragh. He is caught in the crossfire between the most powerful nobles in Ireland, each with his own agenda. The book is the stand-alone prequel to my first historical novel, Sharavogue, which begins with the arrival of Cromwell in Ireland, and follows the protagonist’s experiences on an Irish sugar plantation of Montserrat. Both books are available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers. Find more information and links on my website, nancyblanton.com.

You can find the novel for purchase HERE.

Visit these fine blogs for more:

Jennifer B. Duffey HERE.
Andrea Patten HERE.
Janette Fudge Messmer HERE.
Nancy Blanton HERE.

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Filed under 17th century Ireland, Blog Hop, historical novels, James Butler, Earl of Ormond, Nancy Blanton

My Favorite Books Blog Hop: Alas, Babylon

Welcome to the My Favorite Books Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be hearing from bloggers and fellow bibliophiles about a topic we can’t say enough about — books! Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is encouraged to participate. This hop originates with author Jennifer P. Duffey HERE

Each Tuesday, Jennifer will be adding a post about a book that resonated with her in some way, and looks forward to hearing from all of us.

A few simple rules:

To participate, scroll down to the bottom, add your name to the list, and grab the link provided. Insert that into the blog post you wish to add.
Make sure the list of attendees is added to your blog post.
Be a good hopper and visit other blogs throughout this event. Be a great hopper and add some comments along the way!

ALAS, BABYLON

“This December Saturday, ever after, was known simply as The Day. That was sufficient. Everybody remembered exactly what they did and saw and said on The Day. People unconsciously were inclined to split time into two new period, before The Day and after The Day.”

Carrying on the theme set by my friend Jennifer Duffey, I’m going to talk about my favorite dystopian novel, ALAS, BABYLON by Pat Frank. Written in 1959, Mr. Frank wrote it when a friend of his posed a question regarding what Mr. Frank thought would happen if the Russians attacked the United States unexpectedly. Mr. Frank wrote the novel in response to that question. It is a powerful novel of survival and hope, yet it looks unyieldingly at the potential destruction of civilization as we knew it then.

The book was written in a clean, clear and direct style. Without using the overt sexual or violent language so common today, Mr. Frank still managed to bring to life the dilemma normal people found themselves in when a last case scenario became all too real. It was an unflinching, yet mostly positive view of people struggling to cope with a situation that we all fear yet hope we will never have to face. Even though our technology is very different, as the reader can see, when the electricity died, civilization went back to an earlier, much more primitive time. Mr. Frank presented a glimpse of what could happen when a group of people suddenly no longer have access to modern luxuries. In these uncertain time, it has a clear resonance for us today.

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Filed under Blog Hop, Dystopian novel, Pat Frank

The Trouble to Check Her Blog Tour: Guest Post by Maria Grace

We have a guest with us today.  Please enjoy this excellent post by Maria Grace.  Maria Grace is currently engaged in a blog tour promoting her new book, THE TROUBLE TO CHECK HER, a Pride and Prejudice re imaging focused on Lydia Bennet.  I have read it and enjoyed it very much.

 

The Dance of Courtship

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in lovePride and Prejudice, 1813

 

Jane Austen’s society was governed by strict rules regulating the interaction of the sexes. Young women were always chaperoned in the company of men, leaving the dance floor one of the only places that young people could interact a little more freely. Under cover of the music and in the guise of the dance, young people could talk, flirt and even touch in ways not permitted elsewhere, making it an ideal place to meet potential spouses and carry on a courtship.

 

Dance Partners

 

Every dance required a partner. During a public assembly, the Master of Ceremonies assisted couples by making introductions and suggesting partners to those who wished them. At a private ball, everyone was considered introduced, so any young man could ask any young woman to dance. A young lady signaled she was interested in dancing by pinning up the train of her gown. If asked to dance at a private event, she could not refuse unless she did not intend to dance for the rest of the night.

 

Gentlemen were expected to engage a variety of partners throughout the evening. Failing to do so was an affront to all the guests.  The way a gentleman asked for a dance could begin a subtle and powerful conversation with a woman which would not otherwise pass by the watchful eyes of chaperones.

 

The offer might be made with eye contact and a quick gesture toward the dance floor; a smile, a bow and flowery words; a sweaty palmed, stammered request; or even a shrug and an eye roll of ‘well, I suppose you will do.’ A gentleman might request a dance in advance—a definite compliment to the lady. On the other hand, saving more than two dances for a particular partner was detrimental to a young lady’s reputation. Even two dances signaled to observers that the gentleman in question had a particular interest in her.

 

Dancing

 

Balls might begin with a mixer dance in which dancers switch partners frequently, enabling dancers to ‘sample’ every partner on the floor. These provided an excellent opportunity to scope out partners for future sets, particularly if one was looking for someone of a particular skill level or personality to pair with.

How much can one learn in a fifteen- to thirty-second set of steps with a partner whose name you do not even know? Quite a bit actually. One might meet ‘Henry who lists to the left’ who leans to the left, does not hear the caller well, and easily confused. ‘Bob the leprechaun’ might be all smiles, but unable to count rhythm to save his life or his partners. ‘Dashing Dandy’ might be all too aware of the dashing figure he cuts to care much for his partner. ‘The Colonel’ could take himself and the dance very seriously and disapprove of missteps deeply.

Ladies too demonstrated their disposition on the dancefloor. The Bingley sisters, in very fancy gowns indeed, could be inclined to looked down their noses at less experienced dancers and effectively put them in their places. In contrast, Lady Congeniality might make it her place to make everyone feel welcome. Whomever might be there, the ball room floor was lively and full of characters.

The dances for the evening were all built from an array of standard steps.  Most of them were simple maneuvers like: partners turn by the right hand and two couples all join right hands and turn once around. Complex movements like figure eights, ‘hays’ and dancing down the set were included as well.  In many of the line-based dances, couples would ‘take hands four from the top’, that is they would form groups of two couples who would dance together for one repetition of the music. In simple dances, both couples would perform the same steps throughout the dance. More complicated dances might have the first and second couples executing completely different steps with one more complex than the other, as in Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot (featured in recent movie adaptations of both Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma.)

At the end of that repetition, the final steps ‘progress’ couples into new groups of four, first couples moving down the set to be first couple in the group one down from their previous position, and second couples moving up. In order for progression to work, couples at the top and bottom of the set would wait out a repetition of the music and not dance. This waiting out period offered a prime opportunity for couples to interact relatively privately on the dance floor.

In the span of a several minutes-long repetition, dancers might exchange pleasantries, flirtations, or even cross words. Whatever their conversation, though, they still had to pay attention to the music and other dancers so as not to miss their entry back into the set. At the next repetition they would rejoin the set, switching their role in the dance from first to second or second to first couple.

Not all dances offer these ‘time out’ periods. Circle dances and those done in sets of two or three couples required dancers to participate constantly, so little or no conversation might take place.  Even so, a great deal of dance floor communication is possible without dialogue.

Speaking without Words

Eye contact could play a huge role in dance floor tête-à-têtes.  From a practical standpoint, the eye contact made for a useful way to stave off dizziness from many rapid turns, but it has the potential for so much more. Eye contact might range from friendly and flirtatious to downright intrusive. Some partners engaging in constant eye contact, could hold their partners an intense, almost physical grip. Such exchanges could become demanding and intimate, isolating the couple in a room full of people.

Some partners might offer little in the way of eye contact, even to the point of avoiding any direct gaze with their partner. An avoidant partner could silently communicate a variety of things, from their own insecurity with the dance steps to distain for their partner.

Subtle physical contact on the dance floor, usually restricted to taking hands or joining arms at the elbow for a turn, also speaks volumes. Hands might be taken, barely touching and only as long as necessary, or held reverently, lingering as long as possible in the connection. In moves like passing ones partner in the middle of the line or circling back to back, how close or how far away ones partner remains communicates a strong message.

The way partners dance together creates a conversation of facial expression and body language as eloquent as the finest speeches.  A more experienced dancer can subtly and patiently assist a less certain dancer through complex steps with glances and subtle gestures, encouraging and praising with eyes and smiles.  Conversely, experienced dancers can declare disdain and even judgment on a struggling dancer even to the point of rough pushing or pulling that dancer into their correct position.

Partners who are equally anxious about getting the steps right, and good humored in their anxiety, could assist one another, laugh at missteps, and celebrate their victorious achievements progressing through a series of complicated steps. The experience could create a bond over the shared challenge. A gentleman might even kiss a lady’s hand after surviving such a trial—a most romantic gesture indeed.

When two proficient dancers partner, the flow of their coordinated movements could create a connection between them, linking them in purpose and action. The communication and energy flowing between them can be visceral and compelling, poignant as the deepest conversation.

Each dance itself possessed its own character, some being staid and elegant and others playful and flirtatious. Lord Byron’s Maggot—by the way, a maggot referred to a catchy tune, what we would today call an ‘ear worm’—suits its namesake. One set of steps involved a woman a man with a flirtatious ‘come hither’ beckon to follow her. The three couple dance, Hunt the Squiril (sic) requires the first couple to chase each other, weaving through the other dancers.  These suggestive moves could be made as token gestures or with sincere energy.

It is easy to see how in the period, where conversation was restricted to ‘polite’ topics and interactions between unmarried individuals were strictly chaperoned, the dance floor offered the one place where open expression was considered acceptable. There, individuals could be dramatic, funny and flirtatious without censure from society at large—provided of course that they did not take their self-expression too far. Therein lays the power and allure of the dance floor for hero and heroine, for there alone might they express what they could not say directly.

The Trouble to Check Her Cover

Take a peek at the book blurb for THE TROUBLE TO CHECK HER!

 Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey.  That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.

It would improve her character, he said.

Ridiculous, she said.

Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond’s cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.

Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.

Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CTLTE6I

BN NOOK:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-trouble-to-check-her-maria-grace/1123601415

KOBO:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-trouble-to-check-her

Meet the Author!

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

 

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

 

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com

Facebook:

http://facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace

G+:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/103065128923801481737/posts

On Amazon.com:

http://amazon.com/author/mariagrace

Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)

Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)

English Historical Fiction Authors

(http://EnglshHistoryAuthors.blogspot.com)

On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace

On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/

Maria Grace, author

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Filed under 19th century England, Blog Hop, Jane Austen, Writing

Blog Hop-Mint Sauce: An EnglishTradition

The End of Dinner by Jules-Alexadre Grun, 1913 (Wikimedia Commons)

by Lauren Gilbert

Mint sauce has a long history in England, traditionally served with roast lamb. Mint sauce consists of mint leaves, finally minced, and mixed with vinegar and some sugar. This is very different to the mint jelly served with lamb when I was growing up in America. This type of “sweet and sour” sauce goes back to medieval times, and similar mint sauces were very popular in France and Italy where mint was more widely used. Traditional has it that, in an effort to slow consumption of lamb and mutton to protect the wool trade (less lamb eaten meant more sheep to shear), Elizabeth I decreed that lamb and mutton could only be eaten with bitter herbs. Mint is one of the bitter herbs, and cooks discovered quickly that it pairs well with lamb and mutton. Clarissa Dickson Wright considered mint sauce to be the last culinary link with the Crusades. At any rate, mint sauce has been a favorite condiment with lamb and mutton since the 16th century. As with any popular food product, mint sauce has been tweaked over the centuries. While regular mint sauce seems to be considered essential for lamb, other sauces have been devised for use with other meats, such as a gooseberry and mint sauce recommended for port and goose.

In 1200 ENGLISH RECIPES by Ethel Meyer, she took 2 T of finely chopped mint leaves, 1T of granulated sugar (American) or castor sugar (British), and 6 T vinegar. After mixing the mint and sugar, the mixture must sit for an hour; then the vinegar can be added added gradually, mixing well between each addition. (This quantity is recommended for 4-5 people.) This seems to be the basic recipe. Some add a squeeze of lime or lemon. Some use white wine vinegar; I found another using malt vinegar. Some specify spearmint leaves, while others go with peppermint. Several recommended that the finished sauce have the consistency of thick cream. As you can see, this is a very flexible recipe and can be easily adapted to personal taste.

Sources:

“20 Quirky Facts About British Food.” https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=interesting+british+food+facts

Love to Know. “List of Bitter Herbs.” http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/List_of_Bitter_Herbs

Meyer, Edith. 1200 ENGLISH RECIPES. Originally published 1898: Murray, London. Published 2010: Salzwasser-Verlag, Bremen, Germany. GoogleBooks: https://books.google.com/books?id=Sb5LF9ztzFgC&pg=PA199&lpg=PA199&dq=how+to+make+traditional+english+mint+sauce&source=bl&ots=xeAyxn309w&sig=0Mg9MmYR6OlWKVJHtlLrHdDrHog&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDUQ6AEwBDgoahUKEwj2j6f9xpfIAhWOuB4KHV9RA_U#v=onepage&q=how%20to%20make%20traditional%20english%20mint%20sauce&f=false

Dickson Wright, Clarissa. A HISTORY OF ENGLISH FOOD. 2011: Random House Books, London.

Image: Wikimedia Commons. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f1/Gr%C3%BCn_-_The_End_of_Dinner.jpg/640px-Gr%C3%BCn_-_The_End_of_Dinner.jpg

Celebrating A New Release!

Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors, Volume 2
Edited by Debra Brown and Sue Millard

An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain’s castles, customs, and kings.

I am so honored to be included in this volume!

Purchase links:

Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0996264817
Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0996264817

Castles, Customs and Kings, Volume II

Castles, Customs and Kings, Volume II

Visit these fantastic sites in the Blog Hop (they are coming live at different times so check back if you can’t find it the first time!):
1. Whisky vs Brandy http://huntersjones.com/2015/09/29/whiskey-vs-brandy/
2. Hunting the Wren in Wales and Ireland http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/hunting-wren-in-wales-and-ireland.html
3. Archery in Tudor England http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8960148
4. A Curious Variant on Wassail http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8960621
5. 17th Century Marriage Day Customs http://www.shapingthefacts.blogspot.com/
6. Harvest Moons and Customs http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962474
7. 17th Century Medicine http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8961953
9. A Quirky Look at the History of Nursery Rhymes http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962600
9. Animals on Trial http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8961874
10. What was it like to live as a 16th century nun? http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962444
11. Historical Custom: The Flitch of Bacon Custom http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8961380
12. Michaelmas in Medieval Britain http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962619
13. The Peculiar Custom of Electing Kings http://www.linkytools.com/click_linky.aspx?entryid=8962286
14. Queen for a Day-of Bride Crowns of Gold and Myrtle https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/queen-for-a-day-of-bridecrowns-in-gold-and-myrtle/
15. Deadly Cat Customs http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/deadly-cat-customs.html
16. “Name that Member”: Weird Parliamentary Customs https://alwayswantedtobeareiter.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/name-that-member-weird-but-wonderful-british-parliamentary-customs/
17. Sweating with the Mohocks http://www.madamegilflurt.com/2015/09/sweating-with-mohocks.html
18. The Evil Eye and Vampires: Superstition in the Ottoman World http://www.kathryngauci.com/blog-06-feb-11-2015-evil-eye-vampires-superstition-ottoman-world/
19. Megaliths in the Popular Imagination http://mark-patton.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/negotiating-with-unexplained-megaliths.html
20. Odd Medieval Celebrations http://lanawilliams.net/home.html
21. The Unusual Marriage Customs of Medieval Ireland http://empowell.blogspot.com/2015/09/polygamy-divorce-more-unusual-marriage.html

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Filed under Blog Hop, Cooking, recipes

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Best-selling author Patrick Redmond (his latest novel is THE REPLACEMENT) was kind enough to tag me for the Writing Process blog hop. You can visit his blog here: http://patrickredmondbooks.com/blog/2014/04/21/writing-process-blog-hop . He had been tagged by Marie MacPherson, author of THE FIRST BLAST OF THE TRUMPET, (Her blog is HERE http://mariemacpherson.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/writing-process-blog-hop-2 ) who encouraged me to participate. I thank them both!

A few simple rules apply to this blog hop: 1. You publish on a Monday the week after being tagged and answer four questions and 2. Link back to the blogs of the person who tagged you to let him or her know you appreciate it. On to the questions…

Question1: What am I working on right now? I am working on another novel set in the late Georgian/Regency era, a romantic historical novel involving a young woman coming into her own. She is rather shy and uncertain of her place in her world, and is not very trusting of her own abilities and choices. I also have notes for a sequel to my first published work in process, as well as a non-fiction project.

Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre? This question is almost impossible to answer. I would like to think that my personal tastes, values and interests influence my characters and their stories. However, since one or another of my characters takes over at some point, other issues and viewpoints can creep in. It is impossible to keep my own feelings out of the story, but sometimes the characters take the story into directions I had not planned initially.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do? I write what I enjoy reading. I have always loved historical novels, whether romantic or otherwise. Historical novels can provide painless doses of historical information that inspire the reader to find out more. They take the reader away to another time and place. They introduce the reader to characters that will hopefully become almost alive, people one would like to befriend or the villain that one loves to hate. Novels explore the human condition, emotions, reactions-characters in a novel sometimes show us something about ourselves. Historical details of time and place can give us parallels to our own time and place-we can see how far we have come in some respects and how some things remain constant in others. Although I love novels that have a grand sweep of stirring events, my favourites tend to involve the personal, the interactions of normal people in their own daily lives and, if possible, a happy ending.

Question 4: How does my writing process work? I must confess that I don’t have a set process. The beginning varies. It may start with a “What if…” question. Sometimes a character wakes up in my mind. Occasionally, scraps of a dream become an inspiration. Once I have the initial idea, I try to identify the characters whose voices will be the main ones for my story. I flesh out those characters first: name, description, likes and dislikes, talents and interests, family background. Research is crucial. Although I tend to focus on the personal lives of my characters, sometimes real people creep in. I also want the place descriptions to fit, the locality to be accurate. While I want my characters to be unique and appealing, I also want them to be true to their time and place. I make a general outline of the plot, and add notes of details I want to include. Then I do more research. Sometimes the writing comes quickly, other times, not so much… Then that little piece fits into the puzzle and I’m off again. I reread and edit as I go along, to make sure that the story line fits together.

Who is next? I would like to tag

Barbara Monajem
Barbara Monajem writes award-winning historical romance and paranormal mysteries, including THE MAJIC OF HIS TOUCH, UNDER A NEW YEAR’S ENCHANTMENT and her most recent BACK TO BITE YOU, due out May 1st! She blogs with the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers HERE http://pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com/ and has her own website HERE http://www.barbaramonajem.com/
Barbara Monajem-Under A New Years Enchantment-Harlequin 2014

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Filed under Blog Hop, Uncategorized, Writing

This Castles Blog Hop Giveaway is closed…

Haddon Hall copy (2)

My giveaway is now closed. A winner will be drawn and contacted. Good luck to all who left a comment. Watch this space for an announcement of the winner!

CASTLES, CUSTOMS, AND KINGS True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors was released last week on Monday, 9/23/13 (the second anniversary of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog). It’s a great book, and I’m very proud to be a part of it! Please take a look at it. You can see it here on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-Historical-ebook/dp/B00FCEJ10Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380747176&sr=1-1&keywords=castles+customs+and+kings+true+tales+by+english+historical+fiction+authors ) where it is available in print and Kindle formats. Don’t miss it!
Final Front Cover

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Filed under Blog Hop, Castles, Giveaway, History

A Visit to Hampton Court Palace and A Giveaway!

Haddon Hall copy (2)

First, Let me say that I am proud to be a tourist. I love to visit new places, and I’m always taking pictures where ever allowed. A huge dream-come-true for me was my first trip to England. Another was when my mother accompanied us on a later trip. She and I had talked for years about visiting England together, and it was so wonderful when my husband suggested that we take her with us when we made another trip.

My mother and I had the opportunity to visit Hampton Court Palace on a lovely day.

Hampton Court Palace, taken by me

Hampton Court Palace,
taken by me

We went all over the palace, and thoroughly enjoyed it all, looking for the initials of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn that were overlooked when he redecorated after her death, walking in the beautiful gardens, the William and Mary rooms, and all. It was a delightful day, a memory that I cherish.

However, Hampton Court is so much more than a wonderful place to visit. Its history is fascinating. In the 13th century, there was a manor house at Hampton, which was acquired by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John Jerusalem. They used the site to store produce, basically as a barn. As time went on, it was noticed that this was a convenient location between the royal palaces at Sheen and Byfleet, so new construction was done to improve accommodations for royal guests in transit. The property was leased out to tenants of increasing importance. Henry VII’s Lord Chamberlain Giles Dubeney leased the property in 1494 (before becoming Lord Chamberlain) because of the site’s convenience to London. As he rose in prominence at court, he began receiving visits from members of the royal court who required suitable accommodation. After his death in 1508, the next tenant was Thomas Wolsey who acquired the lease in 1514.

During Wolsey’s tenure at Hampton Court, the estate was transformed out of all recognition. In a five-year period, he expanded a private home into a grand palace. He lavished money on the place, establishing luxurious rooms for himself, and magnificent accommodations for Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon and Princess Mary. The palace was laid out in a design of two eight pointed stars side by side, from an Italian Renaissance design. Fabrics, plate, everything was ostentatiously of the best, to the point it caused talk that Wolsey’s palace was grander than the king’s court. In 1528, Wolsey gave the palace to Henry VIII, in a bid to save himself after he fell from grace for failing to procure Henry’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon. (Wolsey’s coat of arms can still be seen at Hampton Court.)

Henry VIII also devoted time, attention and money to Hampton Court Palace. His building program expanded Hampton Court into a modern and lavish royal palace, complete with the Great House of Easement (a multiple lavatory which could seat 28 people)with piped-in water that flowed through lead pipes, and a huge kitchen. Henry’s fondness for outdoor pursuits resulted in pleasure gardens, a hunting park kept filled with game, bowling alleys and tennis courts. An eight-acre tiltyard had five towers for spectators to watch jousting. Henry provided for accommodations for his children and for courtiers, servants and guests. A beautiful chapel was constructed as well. (I think this is my favorite part of Hampton Court.)

Hampton Court Palace Chapel by Charles Wild 1819

After Henry’s death, his surviving children used Hampton Court. However, it was in such good and modern condition, little additional work was done. Mary Tudor spent time at Hampton Court with her husband, Philip of Spain. Elizabeth I used it as a place to welcome and impress foreign diplomats and delegations. Under the early Stuarts, it was used for relaxation and as a party palace. Cromwell also enjoyed it. Under William and Mary, however, major changes were completed.

William III thought the palace should be razed and a new one built. He and Mary hired Christopher Wren to do the work. Wren’s original plan demolished all but the Great Hall. Unfortunately for his plans, time and money did not allow for such a drastic scheme. Ultimately, a remodel was the result. Construction stopped in 1694 when Queen Mary died, and did not resume until 1697. William III increased the pressure to finish, and brought in Wren’s assistant William Talman to get it done. Hampton Court Palace evolved from the modern Tudor palace that was Henry VIII’s pride to an elegant baroque structure with moldings and fireplaces carved by Grinling Gibbons. Amazingly, it also came in under budget! William III also commissioned the yew tree maze sometime around 1690-1700, which has been and is still a draw for visitors.

After William III’s death, Queen Anne used it for hunting and as a country home, but preferred Windsor Castle and the palace at Kensington. After her death, the Hanoverians took over. George I spoke no English and spent most of his time back in Hanover. His wife, the queen, never came to England. His son and daughter-in-law, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later George II and Queen Caroline) took great interest in Hampton Court and the Queen’s Apartments were finally completed-a painted ceiling, magnificent furnishings and an elegant state bed resulted in a magnificent suite of rooms. Unfortunately, as the result of multiple issues, the King banned the Prince of Wales from the royal palaces in 1717. George I held court and Hampton Court Palace for a brief period, and did finally reconcile with his son. However, St. James Palace became the chief official residence of the king, and Hampton Court was seldom used between 1719 and the death of George I in 1727.

George II and Queen Caroline returned to Hampton Court, and George II constructed rooms for his son the Duke of Cumberland. However, this was the last time Hampton Court was used by the royal family as a home. George III chose not to live there. Subsequently, other than the royal suites, the palace was divided into individual units used as “grace and favor” residences by persons granted rent-free homes there after giving great service to king or country. Former residents include the Duke of Wellington’s mother Lady Mornington and his sister. Hampton Court Palace was listed in Regency era guide books as a popular excursion destination, with the park, gardens, maze and State Apartments available for viewing. (In 1803, it cost 1 shilling to view the State Apartments.) Queen Victoria threw Hampton Court open to the public, and during her reign interest in the surviving Tudor parts of the palace rose. Money was spent on restoring and conserving the palace.

In the 20th century, tourism at the palace was a primary focus which resulted in various activities and exhibitions and improvements. A fire in March 1986 damaged the Kings Apartments. The repairs resulted in a recreation of William III’s King’s Apartments, with various items that had been removed being returned including art, tapestries and furnishings. Other areas were refreshed and restored. While there are still some ‘grace and favor’ residences at Hampton Court, more of the palace is now available for viewing. The Royal School of Needlework is also located at Hampton Court Palace, which is well worth a visit all on its own. The Queen still retains certain privileges, and it has been used for state occasions, such as the state dinner given by visiting Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother in 1982.

Sources include:
Historic Royal Palaces website: http://www.hrp.org.uk
Edgar, Donald. THE ROYAL PARKS. London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1986
Feltham, John. THE PICTURE OF LONDON FOR, FOR 1803: Being A Correct Guide to All the Curiosities, Amesements, Exhibitions, Public Establishments, And Remarkable Objects, In And Near London. Originally published London: R Phillips (Preface is dated August, 1802). Reprinted by Nabu Public Domain.
Phillips, Charles. THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ROYAL BRITAIN. New York: Metro Books, 2010, 2011.
Picture of the Royal Chapel is from Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Hampton_Court_Palace%2C_Chapel%2C_by_Charles_Wild%2C_1819_-_royal_coll_922125_313698_ORI_2.jpg/381px-Hampton_Court_Palace%2C_Chapel%2C_by_Charles_Wild%2C_1819_-_royal_coll_922125_313698_ORI_2.jpg

The Castles Blog Hop is a celebration of the release of CASTLES, CUSTOMS AND KINGS True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors. The official release day is 9/23/13, but it is available for purchase from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0983671966/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379798386&sr=1-1&keywords=castles+customs+and+kings) and other sites. Please don’t miss out!

Final Front Cover

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
In honor of the release of our book, I am including a giveaway. I have a copy of CASTLES OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND by Rodney Castleden (with a surprise or two!) for one winner in the US or Canada. This is a beautiful book, filled with wonderful pictures and fascinating details. This giveaway is open from 9/23/13 until 10/1/13. Please leave a comment for a chance to win! Don’t forget to leave your contact information. Good luck!

Visit these other fine blogs which are also in the Castles Blog Hop. Who knows what treasures await?

Gillian Bagwell – http://nellgwynn.blogspot.com/

Maria Grace – http://RandomBitsofFascination.com

Susanna Calkins – Winchester Palace – http://www.susannacalkins.com

Helena Schrader – http://schradershistoricalfiction.blogspot.com/

Grace Elliot – Carisbrooke Castle – http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com

Linda Root – http://lindaroot.blogspot.com

Katherine Pym – http://novelsbykatherinepym.blogspot.com/

Katherine Ashe – Kenilworth Castle – http://wwwlongview.blogspot.com/

Deborah Swift – Sizergh Castle – Www.deborahswift.blogspot.com

Teresa Bohannon – Cardiff and Caerphilly Ancient Welsh Castles
http://myladyweb.blogspot.com/2013/09/castles-and-customs-and-kings-blog-hop.html

Scott Higginbotham – Rhodes Castle – http://scotthigginbotham.blogspot.com/

Maggi Andersen – http://www.maggiandersen.blogspot.com

J.A. Beard – Porchester Castle – http://riftwatcher.blogspot.com

Prue Batten – http://www.pruebatten.wordpress.com

Sandra Byrd – Hever Castle – http://www.sandrabyrd.com/blog/

Elizabeth Ashworth – Hornby or Pontefract – http://elizabethashworth.com/

Debra Brown – Castello di Amorosa – http://authordebrabrown.blogspot.com/

Nancy Bilyeau – Stafford Castle – Http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.com

Peter St. John – Evacuation http://jennospot.blogspot.fr/

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