Archive for July, 2009

According to the Language of Flowers, lavender symbolises love and devotion (and luck). At Snowshill Lavender farm, over 53 acres of lavender are currently in bloom so love should certainly be in the air.

Lavender thrives on the free-draining limestone hills at the heart of the English Cotswolds. At 1000 feet above sea level, the combination of soil type, altitude and climate of the area produce ideal growing conditions for English lavender. It’s a beautiful place and particularly worth visiting at this time of year when the lavender is at its best.

Here are a few piccies from my visit yesterday – unfortunately, they are not scratch and sniff which is a pity because the smell was heavenly!

Lavender Farrm 014 Lavender Farrm 015

Lavender Farm 013 Lavender Farm 006

Just a mile or so away from the lavender fields is the National Trust-owned Snowshill Manor. Snowshill Manor was previously owned by the wealthy eccentric Charles Paget Wade. He trained as an architect, but when he inherited the family fortune (built on sugar plantations in the West Indies) in 1911, he was freed from the necessity of working. He purchased Snowshill in 1919 and thereafter devoted himself to restoring the manor and gardens and using it to house his ever-growing collection of eclectic objects, which reflected his interest in craftmanship.
Charles chose to live in a small cottage in the garden. He gave Snowshill and its astonishingly diverse contents to the National Trust in 1951.

Several ghost stories surround Snowshill Manor. One involves a clandestine marriage that took place in an upper room of the house on St Valentine’s Eve, 1604. Ann Parsons, a sixteen-year-old orphan heiress related by marriage to John Warne (owner of Snowshill at the time) was forcibly removed from the home of her guardian by Anthony Palmer, a handsome twenty-year-old servant, and some friends. She was taken to Snowshill Manor and married to Palmer at midnight in the room above the Great Hall by the vicar of Broadway. The marriage was subsequently declared invalid by the court of the Star Chamber. The room where the marriage took place is now known as Ann’s room, and is supposedly haunted by her ghost.

(photo of Snowshill Manor by Colin Hogben at Wikimedia Commons)


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This story caught my eye :


I just love a love lost and regained story, and this one could have easily been a great plot for a romance novel!


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How do we decide what to read? An interesting question and one which elicits many Henrietta's Wardifferent answers. There are reviews, bookshop promotions, advertising, TV promotion spots like Richard and Judy or Oprah’s book club. There’s also the most powerful influence of all, word-of-mouth, and with the arrival of book groups and literary blogs, this influence has been enhanced. Now, the on line community can not only review and chat about new favourite books, but also discuss favourite books from other eras.

Inspired by this, The Bloomsbury Group have created a new library, chosen in response to readers’ recommendations – from authors, families, friends and bloggers – who have shared their suggestions of cherished books worthy of revival. The books published in the Bloomsbury Group are hidden gems from the early twentieth century, recommended by readers for readers and brought back into print for a new audience.

Launching this month, the first two titles of the series will be delightful B format editions, priced at £7.99 each. I’m really looking forward to Henrietta’s War by Joyce Denny, described as ‘a hilarious, wry, but often very moving, epistolary novel of life in rural wartime Britain.’

Take a look at The Bloomsbury Group website here, and if you have any recommendations, you can send them in to the snail mail address given, or follow the email link.

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Back in March, I blogged about a new Naxos CD audiobook of one of my Naxos Sylvesterfavourite Georgette Heyer novels, Sylvester, read by the talented, chocolate-voiced Richard Armitage. I received my copy a few weeks ago and am delighted to say it’s everything I hoped it would be. Richard did a wonderful job with a novel that has so many female characters. His differentiation was fabulous, and his storytelling abilities and voice talents meshed beautifully with Heyer’s light, witty style. I’ve listened to it three times now and it just gets better on each occasion. His voice draws you in – it’s mesmerising.

Judging by this article, Naxos are delighted too. I hope they can borrow his ‘delicious’ voice again very soon ;0)

The Sylvester audio CD is currently riding high in the Amazon UK charts. As I type this, it stands at number 1 in two categories (Audio CDs Literary Classics and Books Classic and Contemporary authors), and number 5 in Historical Romance overall! Great news for everyone involved.

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Well, you can’t get much more seductive than the new ten-minute videos from Carte Noire. It’s Jackanory with sex appeal! The Carte Noire Readers features gorgeous hunks Dominic West (from The Wire), Greg Wise (Cranford) and Dan Stevens (Sense & Sensibility) reading favourite literary love scenes from a mix of classic, modern and emerging novels.

The campaign, described by The Guardian as perhaps the thinking woman’s equivalent of the Diet Coke break hunk, aims to give women a diversion when they want to relax over a cup of coffee.

I can certainly recommend these seductive interludes ;0) Dominic West reading the proposal scene from Pride and Prejudice is wonderful, as are all the others. Good thing there will eventually be 30 to choose from.

So, make yourself a rich, velvety mug of Carte Noire coffee and, when you’re sitting comfortably, then he’ll begin (click on the photo above to follow the link and enjoy *g*) …

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Over on the Vulpes Libris blog here, there is an interview with actor Richard Armitage.

Mentioned in the interview is our very own Elizabeth Hanbury, whose writing bug was re-ignited after becoming involved with an internet message board C19 – created for fans of the 2004 series North and South which starred Richard.

What they don’t mention is that Juliet Archer, Georgia Hill and me (Jenna Dawlish) all started writing through this group too.

Happy reading of the interview. Very interesting to see what other people read. I must say, give Richard an award for liking Lord of the Rings. I could never get past the first couple of chapters – not my cup of tea, but each to their own!


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Welcome to Part 3 of my blog on Regency Wagers to coincide with publication of my Regency romance, Ice Angel

Ice Angel

On Saturday 21st June, I visited Coughton Court in Warwickshire.

Coughton Court, west front

Coughton Court, west front

Coughton Court is one of the finest Tudor houses in England and home to the Throckmorton family.  The Throckmortons formed part of the circle of prominent Catholic families that refused to capitulate to Protestantism during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century and remain Roman Catholic to this day.  Apart from the fine collection of paintings and furniture at Coughton, there are many reminders of the family’s turbulent past, including Catholic treasures, a double hiding-place (or priest hole) in the north east turret, and an exhibition showing the fascinating connections with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Coughton Court, the courtyard

Coughton Court, the courtyard

But onto Coughton Court’s connection with Regency wagers .. 2009 marks the 600th anniversary of the Throckmorton family at Coughton Court and, as part of the celebrations, a special event took place on 21st June.  It involved a modern re-enaction of the making of the legendary Throckmorton Coat.

On 25th June 1811, Sir John Throckmorton laid a bet for 1,000 guineas that a team of workers could attempt ‘making a coat from the wool which was on the sheep’s back at 5.00 am, before 9.00 at night, which was done before half past six’*  The wager was won: the coat was completed between sunrise, when it was wool on the backs of two sheep, and sunset, when it was a fashionable cutaway coat worn by Sir John.   The famous coat is now on display in the Saloon at Coughton.

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Original advert from the 1809 Throckmorton Coat wager

In 2009, the idea was to celebrate the wager by the creation of a contemporary coat – based on the tailcoat style of the Throckmorton Coat – which would be worn by Mrs Clare McLaren-Throckmorton’s grandson, Magnus Birch, at the end of the day.

Textile artists Rebecca Griffiths and Victoria Geary, who run the company ‘Pretty Rubbish’, (www.prettyrubbish.org) were creating the modern garment from a variety of fabrics and recycled material, taking inspiration from the intricate family history and information gathered from the house.

So, did they manage to do it?  Yes, they did!  Here are the two coats, the 1811 Throckmorton coat and the 2009 coat, side by side.

Coughton Court

And here’s Magnus  Birch, Mrs. Clare McLaren-Throckmorton’s grandson, wearing the finished article, accompanied by the ladies from ‘Pretty Rubbish’

Coughton Court

A fantastic day, and a very clever way to harness the spirit of the original wager.  The 1811 coat and 2009 coat will remain on display together at Coughton Court.  It’s well worth a visit to see the intricate detail and embroidery on the 2009 coat, as well as all the other attractions Coughton has to offer.

There are more photos from my visit to Coughton Court here


That’s the end of my three blogs on Regency wagers to coincide with the publication of Ice Angel, but no doubt I’ll be returning to the subject in the future!

* from Sir John Throckmorton’s Journal, 1811

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