One of the best things about writing historical romance is being able to choose from all the stunning English country houses for our heroes and heroines.
Much of The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton takes place at Mandeville House, home of the Duke and Duchess of Hampton. This mansion first appeared in The Dangerous Viscount and it will turn up again in Confessions From an Arranged Marriage (April 2012). In the course of three novels the house and grounds have evolved. When I wrote The Dangerous Viscount, I envisioned a Palladian pile, along the lines of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, home of the Curzon family. I set it in glorious gardens filled with classical temples, inspired by Stourhead in Wiltshire. Then, while I was writing The Amorous Education, I visited Stowe in Buckinghamshire, now a private school. Geez, that’s a socking great house and the landscaping makes Stourhead look like my back yard (well, not quite). So I incorporated aspects of Stowe into Mandeville, including the great oval Marble Saloon, complete with naked statues.
Country Life is an English magazine I adore simply for the ads: I browse it looking for my ideal house, historic beauties you can buy for a mere million or two, and most of them on a far more manageable scale than stately homes. And there’s plenty of great American real estate too, both on the web and in magazines. A girl can dream about an Upper East Side of Manhattan townhouse, a deco mansion in Palm Beach, or a ranch in Montana. And I always enjoy the descriptions realtors manage to come up with.
Here are pictures of Old Wardour and New Wardour Castles, which happen to be located near where I grew up. Try your hand at writing a real estate description to appeal to a romance character looking for a new home. If you prefer, you may use one of the other pictures in this blog, or upload your own. Hopefully Lady B. will pop by and tell us where she and Lord B. reside when the London season is over.