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Belton House

Afficionados of the 1995 BBC TV version of Pride and Prejudice might recognise Belton House as Rosings Park, Lady Catherine’s home. This is the drive that Lizzie walked along with Mr and Mrs Collins, as he encouraged her not to worry about her dress, as Lady Catherine liked to maintain the distinctions of rank.

The approach to Belton House. The yew trees beside the gravel walk have been trimmed since the BBC filmed there.


There is a lot more detail on Belton House in P&P here for the exteriors, and here for the interiors.

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Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

I visited Hardwick Hall in August, interested in visiting both the house and the grounds. The Hall is now looked after by the National Trust, and is a popular destination, especially in the school summer holidays. This is the first good view of the Hall you get, through a gate, as you approach from the car park. This is one end of the building, and already you can understand the rhyme:

Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall.

There are formal gardens to one side, this first picture shows the hedges separating the herb garden from an orchard and other areas, and more gardens in front of the house. Unforntunately, the design of these gardens dates from after Bess’s time, so we don’t get much of an idea of what the surrounding gardens looked like when she lived there.

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Beningbrough Hall, Yorkshire – kitchen garden

I spent a long weekend in Yorkshire in May, and as part of the trip I visited Beningbrough Hall, now run by the National Trust. Beningbrough Hall was built in the 18th Century, and the inside is fascinating – the National Trust have a portrait theme here, and display portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. However as the weather was gloriously sunny, we spent most of our time enjoying the gardens. I’m particularly fascinated by the kitchen gardens of old houses like this.

Cordon fruit trees
Cordon fruit trees

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Spring is sprung in England

To be fair, spring started some time ago, but it’s only in the last few weeks that trees are starting to turn green and it really has the feel of spring in the air. So, as my Regency Romances are set (mostly) in England, and most of my readers are not based here, I’ve gathered together a few photos showing the best bits of spring in my part of the world.

(I’ve omitted the rainy days, of which we have had many this year!)

The first signs of spring for me are the snowdrops, in the woods, and in places like churchyards.

Snowdrops beneath trees
Snowdrops beneath trees

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Book Review – Britain Against Napoleon

Britain Against Napoleon – The Organization of Victory 1793-1815, by Roger Knight.

In spite of its main title, the book covers the French Revolutionary War (1793-1802) as well as the Napoleonic War.

Britain was at war from 1793 until 1815, with only a couple of intervals. During this time there were changes in the way the army and navy were organised, supplied, and paid for, changes in politics and government, and an increase in production (both manufacturing and agricultural). It was also a period when attempts were made to reduce corruption.

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Book Review – The Country House Kitchen Garden 1600-1950

One of my summer hobbies is visiting National Trust properties and other country houses in England and Wales (and Scotland, when I get that far north), mainly for the wonderful gardens that many of them have. In some of these gardens, the NT have maintained part of what was once the kitchen garden, so we can get some idea of what such places may have looked like when they were the main source of fruit and vegetables for the house.

I picked up this book in the shop of a National Trust property somewhere in England. If you want to see  what kitchen gardens looked like, this is not the book for you as there are only a few black and white illustrations. The book is a collection of essays, and covers everything from methods of growing different crops, how gardens were laid out at different times, the staff employed, how year-round supplies of food were ensured, and even something on cooking and using herbs for medicine.

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Pile of non-fiction history books

TBR list – non-fiction

I thought I’d share a pic of some of my TBR list of non-fiction books about the Georgian and Regency era. Quite a few of these are about Wellington and the Peninsular War. Others are about everyday life, including historical gardening, death and disease.

Two of the books in the pile are about women who ‘followed the drum’, and one is the diary of the wife of a soldier – as opposed to an officer. They will make fascinating reading, and I’m looking forward to blogging about them afterwards. There are also several memoirs or diaries of officers serving with Wellington – quite poignant, some of these, when we know the writer was killed not long afterwards.

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Man-traps and poachers

Game laws

My novel, The Mrs MacKinnons, involves a poacher and mantraps, in a small way, so I looked into what the law was on these subjects at the beginning of the 19th century.

The rural poor in England could, at one time, legally graze cows or sheep on common land, or take the occasional rabbit. Some resorted to poaching game on private land to feed themselves or to sell the game for profit.  During the Regency period and earlier, man-traps were one of the inhumane methods used to trap poachers on private land.

There were many laws introduced over the centuries aiming to prevent the poor taking game from private land. For example, an act passed in 1671, in the reign of Charles II, decreed that the following people were not allowed to have guns, bows, hunting dogs or ferrets, nets etc:

“..all and every person and persons, not haveing Lands and Tenements or some other Estate of Inheritance in his owne or his Wifes right of the cleare yearely value of one hundred pounds per ann. or for terme of life, or haveing Lease or Leases of ninety nine yeares or for any longer terme, of the cleare yearely value of one hundred and fifty pounds, other then the Sonne and Heire apparent of an Esquire, or other person of higher degree”

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