Three old houses that inspired the settings and a part of the plot of Treacle Moon: House No. 2 is Swarthmoor Hall


Like the last house that I wrote about, Chastleton House, Swarthmoor Hall has a particular charm.

When you look at the front door that you walk up to now, Swarthmoor Hall does not look at all grand. It just looks like a large house. But this large house was originally an Elizabethan Manor and it has a very special story and a wonderful atmosphere.

It has changed a lot since the picture on the lower left side, above. But the setting of the property, on the top of a hill in northern England, near the coast on the edge of the Lake District, gives it a very Brontë Sisters feel.

But it is not only the position of Swarthmoor Hall, it is also the stone flags on the floors and the dark wood panelled walls. It has the look of a set from a Brontë Sisters story. A middle class home. With large drafty, cold rooms. With dark corners, and flickering candle flames.

But unlike a Brontë Sisters story, this house has a wonderful sense of peace. When I say Swarthmoor Hall has a special story, it has a claim to an important step in history. The Quaker movement began at Swarthmoor, and the family took their religious beliefs to Pennsylvania and began the Quaker movement there too. Perhaps that is why it feels so peaceful.

Compared to Chastleton House, Swarthmoor Hall has a sense of being a home. A peaceful welcoming home. So, when I walked around Swarthmoor Hall, in my head the lost-in-time house for my character, that had first come to my mind at Chastleton (in a stark, almost lost, property that reminded me of Miss Havisham’s home) became a quiet peaceful place that oozed love from its dark panelling. Every room became a room that my character would think was precious.

You will spot some direct reflections in Treacle Moon, for instance, the Porter’s Chair. The hooded chair in the top left picture. I sat in the chair, and it had a very different feeling sitting in a enclosed chair that protected you from the drafts and felt like it hugged you.

I love old staircases too. The shallowness and width of the steps. The way that steps have been worn down by use, and the imperfections of staircases in the oldest houses. The number of times I try to capture what old staircases look and feel like in books, and yet I never feel as though I quite express it for someone who has never walked up them. But, hey, stairs do not play much of a part really.

IMG_3359The hallways, though, and the transfer from room to room, express a very different atmosphere from the atmosphere in a stately, grand, home. The halls and stairs I usually depict are lined by echoing marble and polished stone or wooden cantilever staircases wrapping around walls in large rooms.IMG_3389

Jacobean and Elizabethan stairs, creep through the house. Georgian staircases stride.

Of course Swarthmoor has another special point of interest in the hall, graffiti on the wall. Graffiti that has no story behind it, anymore than any other name that has been carved into a wall. Except that this was carved in the wall of the hall, in a period when the property was lived in.


So this is the property that turned my character’s house into a home. A place that is loved and kept locked in one point in time because they could not bear to change a thing, not just because of poverty.

Just one more house to tell you about, next week.

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The Truth by Jane Lark ~ a free book exclusive to my blog ~ part forty-two

The Truth

© Jane Lark Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark,

this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, 8, 9, 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18 ,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33,34,35,36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41




Emerald hurried into the room and closed the door then turned to face Rita who was fully clothed and sitting silently on her bunk. She had put out Emerald’s clothes.

“Miss,” Rita stood up. “Is this wise? Your mother would–”

“My mother is dead,” Emerald answered in blunt denial, a cold pain breathing through her chest. “She is not here to care. Now help me dress. I am late for breakfast.”

As was Richard. The thought brought a smile back to her lips and warmed her inside.

Emerald stood still as Rita pulled tight the laces of her corset and then tied the tapes of her petticoats’. Her body ached from the delicious test of endurance Richard had challenged her with last night. He had displayed a new vitality and he’d seemed so desperate. She could not deny how good it felt to be able to make a powerful man like him desperate for her.

When she left the cabin in Mr Bishop’s company, her hand on his arm, she was smiling broadly, she could not help it. She was living in a dream. The memory of her argument with Richard only made her wish to smile more as she thought of its wicked conclusions.

Mr Bishop held open the day cabin door and she very nearly asked him what had happened about the French ship, when she walked past, only catching her tongue at the last moment when she remembered she should not know. But she had already taken the breath to speak and then stopped. He smiled in an odd way, but then a frown immediately furrowed his brow. He’d been silent as they crossed the deck. She supposed if he suspected, he would disapprove, as Rita who was walking behind them did.

Emerald had a feeling that she blushed. There was only Dr Steel in the room. “Are the others not eating?”

“Mr Pritchard is at the helm and Mr Farrow is with him. Mr Swallow is resting.” It was Dr Steel who answered as he stood.

Rita sat in a chair across the room and Mr Bishop walked ahead of Emerald to withdraw a chair at the table for her. Emerald sat opposite Dr Steel, and felt as though she faced a judge in a court room. But Dr Steel could not know. Mr Bishop would not dare defy Richard and speak even if he had guessed. This was Richard’s ship.

Dr Steel offered her the basket of fresh bread. She still did not want to speak to him. She had not forgiven him for not speaking up about her mother’s illness. Her smile was wiped away.

She accepted some bread and reached for jam. They had cured ham too, which they’d brought aboard in Gibraltar and oranges, with strong coffee or hot chocolate. As she helped herself, Dr Steel asked, “How are you?” His voice formally polite.

“As well as I might be when my mother died unexpectedly a little more than fortnight ago.”

“Am I never to be forgiven, Miss Martin,” he challenged quietly as Emerald took a slice of ham from a plate Mr Bishop held for her.

She looked directly at Dr Steel. “I should not think so. You cannot change the fact you did not tell me and I cannot change the fact my mother is dead and I had no chance to say goodbye. I must endure my pain. You may endure my lack of forgiveness.”

Dr Steel smiled, but it was only an acknowledgement that her jab had cut him as intended. “I am sorry my decision caused you such distress. Yet forgiven or not, if you need to talk to anyone, I am willing to listen.”

She frowned at him. Listen to what? She did not answer.

“Will you sit on the deck this morning?” Mr Bishop’s tone was curt, when normally he was always so pleasant.

She was sure she was blushing again when she looked at him. “Yes, please. I know it is getting colder and soon it will be too cold to do so.”

“Would you like a companion?” His tone was still terse.

The pitch in his voice brought a sense of uncertainty. She wished to ask if he knew about her and Richard and if so would he speak of it? If he would then she would beg him not to. She did not want Richard judged badly because of her. But she could not say anything because what if Mr Bishop had not guessed.

“I would be grateful, if you may spare the time?” Her gaze dropped from his and she focused on her food.

“I may. I know you prefer not to be alone.” There was a change to his voice, it held sincerity and it drew her eyes to look back at him.

He smiled.

She smiled too, remembering how in the beginning she had wanted Richard to be more like him. But she had never been attracted to Mr Bishop, he was kind and polite but he had no spark. It was Richard’s fire which ignited her.

The door into the day cabin from the deck opened. She looked across to see Richard enter accompanied by Mr Swallow.

Mr Bishop stood.

“Sit, Mr Bishop.” It was Mr Swallow who made the direction.

“Gentlemen, Miss Martin,” Richard said in greeting. He bowed his head formally towards her. Her smile became broader again, parting her lips . Less than an hour ago they had been in his bed, wrapped up in each other. She felt another blush and caught the movement of a twist in his lips that implied a smile. She looked away once more, at her food. But when he walked past she distinctly felt the tip of one of his fingers brush across her back.

“What are your plans today, Miss Martin?” he asked when he was seated as he began filling his plate.

She glanced at Richard, very aware of Mr Bishop watching them, and she could not seem to stop blushing. “I have agreed to sit with Mr Bishop on the deck this morning.”

“Then I shall entertain you this afternoon.”

He had not spent time with her for days to avoid suspicion. “Thank you.” She glanced at Mr Bishop and met a look of what seemed to be sympathy. Why? She frowned. Oh. But Richard was probably playing games and facing Mr Bishop’s suspicion head-on denying fear of any speculation. Richard Farrow at his most venomous. But then Mr Bishop would be foolish to speak out. She would not fear it either.

When they had finished breakfast they all stood. “Miss Martin,” Mr Bishop, lifted his arm. She looked back at Richard. He bowed his head then smiled slightly.

“Might I have a word with you later, Captain?” Mr Bishop asked as her hand rested on his arm.

Mr Swallow’s eyebrow’s lifted. “Of course, look me out when you have finished keeping Miss Martin company.”

“Thank you, sir.”

As Mr Bishop walked her from the room, with Rita following, Emerald glanced back again. Richard was talking to Mr Swallow but he saw her look and smiled at her over Mr Swallow’s shoulder, a lightness rising in his eyes. It was the greatest acknowledgement she would receive before his crew.

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama, like Victoria and Poldark.


The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3 

The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5 

The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel #5.5

The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75  now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6 

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come  :-) 


Go to the index


  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired  The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
  • another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
  • the prequel excerpts for book #3  The Scandalous Love of a Duke

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark