Author Barbara Monajem Inspired While in Lancashire, England


470px-King_Charles_II_by_John_Michael_Wright_or_studio
Portrait of King Charles II courtesy of John Michael Wright or studio

  Barbara-Monajem-300I visited Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire a few years ago, mostly because I happened to be in the area and knew that my favorite portrait of Charles II was there. I’ve always wanted to write a Restoration-era romance, so I wanted to see a portrait of Charles first-hand. It’s amazing to me how seeing a portrait painted from the living, breathing man made him seem so much more real. Charles certainly looked impressive in the painting, with heavy-lidded eyes and an expression into which the imagination can read almost anything. I can see why he was as popular with the ladies as they were with him!

 

I haven’t written that Restoration-era romance, but

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Gawthorpe Hall

Gawthorpe Hall provided inspiration for another story. It’s a beautiful Elizabethan building, but part of it was built much earlier. In the 14th century, a peel tower was built on the site to keep watch for Scots raiders. At some point it became the property of the Shuttleworth family, who incorporated the medieval tower when constructing the Elizabethan manor in the early 1600s. Later a Shuttleworth married a Kay, and the property stayed in the family until 1970. The house has some fascinating features such as a 400-year-old frieze, antique furniture, a fabric and needlework collection, and a lovely parterre garden.

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Parterre Garden

 

One thing I really enjoyed was how the mottoes of the two families are displayed around the top of the old peel tower. (I guess some of these must have been added later, because the Kay-Shuttleworth connection didn’t take place until the 19th century.) The Shuttleworth motto is Latin: Iusticia et Prudentia (Justice and Prudence), while the Kay motto looks very Anglo-Saxon to me: Kynd Kynn Knawne Kepe, which as far as I can tell means something like “take care of your own.” I spent a long time looking at these mottoes and trying to figure out what the Kay motto meant – I love Anglo-Saxon and have my own Anglo-Saxon grammar and reader, although I don’t get to spend much time playing with them.

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Family Motto on Manor Facade

 

 

I couldn’t resist putting a family motto in my Christmas novella of a few years ago, A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction. I gave the Marquis of Warbury a Latin motto, which is found in every room of his lovely old Elizabethan house. But here’s the catch: it’s only half of a motto―the second half―and no one knows what the first half was or whether it even existed.

More about the area: a servant of the Shuttleworths was one of the accusers of the Pendle witches, who were executed in 1612; two of the convicted witches lived on Shuttleworth land. Another fact: the Bronte family lived not far away in West Yorkshire, and Charlotte Bronte visited Gawthorpe Hall in 1850. Wycoller House, a nearby ruin, is believed by some to be the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. (It wasn’t a ruin at the time.)

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Ruins of Wycoller House

All in all, fascinating places which get the imagination going. Do old places stir your imagination, too?

About eileendandashi

I am a lover of books, both reading and writing. My mission is to encourage people to see the treasures that lie between the pages. I enjoy conversing with authors, fellow bloggers who have anything to do with books and have a particular thrill seeing writers newly published.
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11 Responses to Author Barbara Monajem Inspired While in Lancashire, England

  1. Barbara Monajem says:

    Reblogged this on Embracing Romance and commented:
    I’m at Eileen Dandashi’s today, remembering Lancashire. Mottoes, kings, witches, ruins… so much in such a short visit! And I’m doing a giveaway today and Thursday — both novellas in my May Day Mischief duet. 🙂

  2. I loved the photos! Tweeted and shared!

  3. Lyn Horner says:

    Inspiring indeed! Thanks for sharing your photos and research, Barbara. That motto with half of it missing intrigues me.

  4. This is fascinating. I’m so glad you shared it with us, Barbara.

  5. Reblogged this on My Agent's Pajamas: Or writing makes strange bedfellows–KATHRYN LYNN DAVIS and commented:
    A fascinating story of history, travel and inspiration.

  6. Oh, my yes, they inspire me. Your photos do that, too! And you have an Anglo-Saxon grammar and reader? Fantastic!!

    • Barbara Monajem says:

      Hi, Barb — I *love* my Anglo-Saxon books. (I also have Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf.) I rarely get time now, but it’s a lot of fun trying to read Anglo-Saxon — especially out loud, which makes many of the words more recognizable.

  7. Barbara Monajem says:

    The winner of the two novellas is Kathryn Lynn Davis. Kathryn, I will contact you to arrange to give you your prize. 🙂

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