Country Mouse goes to Town: Anne Stenhouse in London

London Girl

London Girl

Leaving the chapel in London’s 19th century Thames’ side where she teaches the alphabet to a raggle-taggle of urchins, Mariah Fox is charged by a stray pig. The quick intervention of Tobias Longreach saves her from certain injury. Mariah has always believed her destiny to be teaching. After the early death of her mother, she was brought up by her papa, Jerome, to believe that she could learn anything a boy could. She shares his vision of a future in which everyone, rich or poor, boy or girl, will be taught at least the rudiments of reading, writing, and counting. Tobias was brought up a second son, but following his elder brother’s premature death, inherits an Earldom and the need to provide it with an heir. He comes to believe that Mariah will make a perfect countess and enrolls her papa’s help in securing her hand. However, Sir Lucas Wellwood, whose debts have made him urge his sister to attempt to trap Tobias into marriage, has sinister intentions. Mariah suspects Wellwood has been mistreating his sister and she heads off impetuously to rescue her. Will Tobias and his friends reach Wellwood’s home before he can exact revenge on Mariah?

Writing Bella’s Betrothal and Mariah’s Marriage gave me a great excuse to get away from the desk and wander the streets from time to time. Bella’s Betrothal is set in Edinburgh where I live so that’s literally a moment or two’s walking and I’m on the roads Bella, would have walked, albeit they’ve changed a wee bit since.

Mariah’s Marriage and the continuation I’m working towards, Daisy’s Dilemma, need a train ride. So country mouse. Anne Stenhouse, headed up to town. And had a lot of fun.

Firstly, straight off the train, I walked along to the British Museum where the Georgian Exhibition
is running until sometime in March. Composed of items mainly from their collection, I found the exhibition full of interest, if London-centric. Country Mouse was impressed by the maps, the artefacts, the children’s toys and the few but well chosen pieces of Georgian clothing. There’s a great catalogue, too, and I’m going to find that an invaluable reference for future projects.

The 17th century is before the time I write about, but I have enjoyed a lot of fiction set in that period. Charlotte Betts’ The Apothecary’s Daughter, for example, and the mysteries of Deryn Lake. However, the exhibition running at The Museum of London called The Cheapside Hoard is fantastic. Go!

At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of labourers digging foundations below cellars in Cheapside unearthed a hoard of jewels, gold and buttons. It was distributed into three collections with the bulk going to the Museum of London. That museum is very close to the old Cheapside where London’s goldsmiths once congregated. The pieces are exquisite. Wonderful examples of chains, earrings, pendants with a few rings and brooches; and enamelled buttons. Many pearls have survived, but many didn’t. There are, however, garnets, sapphires, amethysts, diamonds and gold. Around the walls are contemporary portraits of ladies and gentlemen wearing the type of piece found in the hoard. I do find that so useful for the writer’s imagination.

Waiting for my friend to arrive, I had time to wander the Museum’s galleries and strayed into their dramatisation of visits to the Vauxhall Gardens. Ladies and Gentlemen of the period, flitted about, often up to no good as in many a Georgian set or regency novel, dressed in period costume. A voice-over takes you into their dramas. On my final morning, I passed the entrance to the contemporary Vauxhall gardens, but didn’t have time to stop and read the board.

It is worth going to see where you’re writing about, if at all possible. Country mouse had a great weekend. Mariah’s Marriage US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


4 thoughts on “Country Mouse goes to Town: Anne Stenhouse in London

  1. You are right, Anne. Although it’s not always possible to do so, it is however wonderful to wander through the places your novel is set and get a ‘feel’ for them. Museums and stately homes are great for finding out about period furniture and wallpapers for example, and about clothes, jewellery too! What a lovely time you must have had in London! I am quite envious!


    • Hi Marie, thanks for dropping in, Anne

      Marie reply above in haste from St Petersburg. I’m now home. Yes, stately homes are a mine of information for the historical writer. There’s a book about Victorian green, I think, which explains how arsenic was used in the dyes and killed people. Fascintating insights. Anne


  2. Thanks for the links, Anne – I’m just back from London but didn’t have time to see these (did the British Museum last year with daughter). There’s so much to see down there!


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