A bird’s eye view of historical London

I have worked in some wonderful historical venues for my day job as well as visiting places at the weekend for fun and to do research for the historical books.  But sometimes I work in a modern venue that still makes me think about the past.

A while ago now, I went to a meeting that was in a venue at the top of an office block close to the banks of the Thames in London near Vauxhall Bridge. When I looked out through the window it struck me just how small London was in the Regency and Victorian eras when my historical books are set.

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Three years ago I occupied one cold autumn evening that I had stayed over in London for work by walking down to the area where Vauxhall Pleasure grounds had once been. It is that small triangle of green on the far side of the river. You can see there is very little there now, I couldn’t even find any plants or trees that suggested there had been an aristocratic playground there once. But I walked there thinking about all the historical characters’ whose diaries and letters I had read, imaging them climbing into boats to cross the river to reach the excitement at the time when there was no bridge. I had set a scene there in The Passionate Love of a Rake and so I knew a lot about what it was like in its heyday.

The underpass to get from one side of the road to the other near the park is decorated with images to remind people today what people then would have been looking forward to. Men on stilts and tightrope walkers.

 

I was writing The Tainted Love of a Captain at the time I was in this high office building and I had recently researched how to obtain a licence to marry without the banns being read. I had set a scene in the book when a character travels to Lambeth Palace to obtain a licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s officials. So when I turned the other way in this office, with my camera, and took another picture, I was probably foolishly surprised to see Lambeth and Westminster Palace within easy walking distance to the boats to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

I thought of Harriett Wilson as I stood there looking out at London. I have shared her story on the blog. I thought particularly about the days she wrote of waiting in a carriage outside Westminster Palace for a lover to come out from a meeting of the House of Lords. Perhaps men left the House of Lords and travelled straight to the boats to ferry them over to the pleasure grounds. I also thought about Frances Bankes letters that talked about visiting her son when he was ill while at the boys’ school in Westminster. The element of her life story inspired an element of The Reckless Love of an Heir, as she sat on an upturned bucket beside his bed, did she dine at the pleasure gardens when they were in their townhouse.

Certainly, lots of the wealthy families owned houses in the area between Westminster and Vauxhall, as all the street names declare.

It was just fascinating for me to stand there and look down and it made my imagination run with ideas on how people lived in the past. That area of London would have been flooded with the best society.

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth by Jane Lark ~ a free book exclusive to my blog ~ part twenty-eight

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

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Emerald

“Dr Steel.” Emerald turned to the Doctor once Richard had left. “What will happen now? How do you bury someone at sea?” She felt so strange–there was a cold solid sensation inside her–like the feel of marble. Like there was no blood in her body, as though she had died, not her mother.

Sympathy hovered in Dr Steel’s eyes. “Her body will be wrapped in cloth and weighted with lead so it sinks, and then we will cast her overboard. I will help you dress her if you wish and we will have the crew gather and say prayers. Joseph, Mr Swallow, will perform a service.”

“My father will not even be able to visit a grave and know she lies in it.” It was said as a fact, without tears. She had cried all her tears out in the last few days. She had no more tears.

“I’m sorry, Miss Martin.”

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it was what they had all been saying to her for days – as though this was their fault.

Her eyes shut and in her mind she saw Richard standing at the cabin door, I’m sorry…

A few days ago he had held her and stroked her hair for what had seemed like an age while she’d cried out in her agony. Since then he’d been distant. She knew he was protecting her reputation, her mother’s death meant she was alone on his ship apart from Rita, but Emerald longed for the comfort he’d given her then.

“Do you wish me to help you dress her?”

Emerald nodded, “Yes, please.” Rita was still outside, crying out her sorrow.

For a moment she felt like laughing, a strange unreal laughter. But Dr Steel would think she was going mad if she did that. Instead she turned to the trunks and looked for her mother’s best dress. It was the thought of who would care what her mother wore as she floated to the bottom of the sea that made Emerald wish to laugh. It also made her want to weep, but the tears had been wrung out of her.

Emerald was asked to eat luncheon with Richard, Mr Swallow and Dr Steel. She did not eat, but then they had not invited her for the sake of eating, they had asked her to join them to discuss the funeral. Richard explained what would happen and Mr Swallow asked her if there were any particular words she would like spoken. There were none. The only thing she wished for was her father. She accepted and agreed to all they said, and so, two hours later, they broke the routine of the ship, gathering the full crew on the quarterdeck, standing in silence, hats and caps in their hands and heads bowed.

Her mother’s body had been wrapped in tarpaulin, secured by rope. Emerald could not imagine her mother inside the plain parcel that two men held on the rail. It was as though at any moment her mother would touch Emerald’s arm and be beside her, saying something. She could not accept that her mother would never say anything again.

Mr Swallow read from a bible he held in one hand. Then the sailors sang a seafaring hymn. Finally Richard spoke, commenting on how well her mother had been liked in Calcutta, and respected, and how clearly she had been loved by both the Governor and her daughter.

Her father was in Calcutta now, living his life as normal, in his office or at home, oblivious–he did not know her mother had died. It would be months before he knew.

The two men, who had held the tarpaulin parcel, tumbled it over the edge of the ship. It splashed into the sea, breaking the silence on the deck, as Emerald stepped to the rail and looked down. She could see the bubbles where her mother’s body had descended, a few yards back. The ship was already  moving away from it. She would never be able to find the same spot. Her mother would always be left here alone.

She was gone!

Her mother was gone, and her father did not even know!

She turned away from the rail, the feeling inside her still cold and empty-disbelieving. She looked at Richard. “May I have a quill and paper to write to my father?”

To be continued…

To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but the actual order is listed below ~ and click like to follow my Facebook Page not to miss anything…
 The Marlow Intrigues

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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  :-) 

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For

  • 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 www.janelark.co.uk 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