Using Stately Homes as Book Settings

© By Cheryl Bolen

My copyeditor recently questioned a reference in one of my books he was editing. “Can this be?” he asked. “Over 300 rooms in this house?”

Yes, many of the British stately homes run to more than 200 rooms and some to over 300 rooms. And because I write a lot of novels about the English aristocracy (both historical and contemporary), I have made it a point to tour as many of these aristocratic homes as possible on my frequent travels to England.

Chatsworth House, home of the Dukes of Devonshire

Chatsworth House, home of the Dukes of Devonshire

One of my favorite of these stately homes is Chatsworth House, family seat of the Dukes of Devonshire, nestled in the foothills of Derbyshire’s Peak District. The “house” has 297 rooms! (It’s the one I use in the banner on my blog, Cheryl’s Regency Ramblings, http://www.cherylsregencyramblings.wordpress.com.)

Knole House in Kent

Knole House in Kent

Knole, in Kent, is home to the Sackvilles, cousins of the first Queen Elizabeth, and was once home to the Dukes of Dorset. This rambling “house” has 356 rooms, 52 sets of stairs, and seven courtyards!

I have toured more than 30 of these homes, and I add new ones each trip my husband and I take to England. They make good fodder for the fictional homes in my 20-plus books. While none of these homes is exactly replicated in any of my novels, I do borrow from different houses I’ve had the pleasure of touring.

Hever-Castle-Kent-great-britain-789258_1242_809

Hever Castle

My book which can most be identified with a particular property is probably My Lord Wicked. The abbey in which my not-so-wicked lord lived was somewhat modeled on Hever Castle, the girlhood home of Anne Boleyn. Instead of the drawbridge at Hever, my fictional abbey has a clock tower which was supposedly built to disguise the abbey’s former bell tower.

In my book, Love in the Library, my heroine lives at Number 17 Royal Crescent in Bath. Here’s a picture of me in front of one of the magnificent townhouses on Bath’s Royal Cresent in June of 2013.

IMG_5926

Me in front of Bath’s Royal Crescent

If you’d like to see what a Georgian townhouse (of the wealthy) looked like, you can tour Number 1 Royal Crescent in Bath. Or you can see the photos of Number 1 here: https://plus.google.com/115605333815650580996/photos?hl=en

—Cheryl Bolen’s newest release, Oh What a (Wedding) Night, Brazen Brides Book 3, releases April 19.

Britain’s Top 10 Castles

Corfe Castle

The ruins of Corfe Castle, selected by British Heritage as Britain’s top castle.

Can you guess which castle British Heritage selected as the number one castle in the country? Sadly for me, it’s not one I’ve been to. It’s Corfe in Dorset. The “ruin” dates to the 11th century.

 

I can’t imagine it besting Tintagle, a magnificent Arthurian ruin on Cornwall’s rocky north coast. The Ten Best Castles in Britain were selected by the editors of British Heritage.

Tintagle (My favorite ruin)

Tintagle (My favorite ruin) did not make the Atop 10 list.

 

Three of the Top 10 I’ve toured – and loved: Arundel in West Sussex, coming in third; Dover Castle, at fifth; and Kent’s Hever Castle, called the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, at tenth.

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle

 

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

I’ve done a drive-by of two others: Stirling in Scotland, fourth; and Warwick Castle, which was selected eighth.

 

Rounding out the list were Conwy Castle in North Wales, second; Caerphilly Castle, also in Wales, at sixth; Alnwick in Northumberland, which celebrated 700 years as home of the Percy family, seventh; and Scotland’s Blair Castle at ninth.