Highlighting Historical Romance with Cerise DeLand on the little details that make an English house a heroine’s home.
I’ve often delighted in touring English houses. In every nook and cranny, I’ve found little joys that I’ve tried to add in my novels.
In my fictitious Dudley Crescent that I invented for this series, Delightful Doings in Dudley Crescent, I take bits and pieces from a few houses I’ve visited in England. Most often, I reference floor plans for a house in Brighton that I recommend everyone visit. This house, officially dubbed Regency Town House, is currently being restored by volunteers who are specialists in home construction and Regency period lifestyles. They have formed a non-profit organization and promote their work in Brighton, offering tours, dinners and other entertainments to educate everyone.
When I last visited, this group was involved in discovering the original paint colors on the walls, ceilings and fittings. Here I show you the intricate design on drawing room shutters. Each house in Brunswick Square originally sold in the 1820s for approximately three thousand pounds. This did not include cost of such items as chandeliers, elaborate moldings, draperies or furnishings. A buyer could expect to purchase his or her own embellishments, according to his means, to make the house a home.
When completed, a townhouse would be home not only to the owners’ family but also a team of servants. In this Brighton home, for example, servants could enter the house from the front street with steps down to the basement. There the housekeeper had her spacious room, the butler his wine cellar, the servants their dining room, an exit to the center kitchen garden and the servants’ privy! From the center hall in the basement, servants waited upon their masters upstairs accessing their own staircase. This rough-hewn wooden set of steps was narrow and lit only by one window. Near this staircase is the kitchen, a wide expanse with cupboards, a glass ceiling and a huge fireplace. Maids slept in an alcove in the kitchen and footman slept on the cold stone floor. From the kitchen, one could exit to the mews.
While my Dudley Crescent townhouses most nearly resemble the Brunswick Square Brighton townhouses, they haves similarities to the Royal Crescent in Bath and to those in Earl’s Court in London. A few similarities also exist with architect Sir John Soanes’ house in London. Do visit this house when you are there next. Wonders abound, especially his device for hanging and displaying his precious collection of paintings.
Townhouses showed the owners’ wealth and status. These homes often rivaled the nobles’ main country homes and their London residences in quality and appointments. Owners brought in sculptures, paintings and furnishings and even built little libraries. Whether in London or in smaller cities and towns, the different layouts and styles offer a treasure trove for a happy tourist!
Noting how Belle, my heroine in HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS, hid her documents in secret drawers, I will tell you that the cabinetmaker acclaimed for this was George Hepplewhite. An Englishman, he crafted desks and other types of cabinetry with hidden compartments. His work, often imitated by other lesser known craftsmen, was popular. Belle’s family could have owned quite a few pieces that resembled his style.
I will say as an aside that the auction of Belle’s house was a usual phenomenon. Numerous advertisements appeared daily in newspapers, detailing the auction of houses and contents. Some were estates owned by titled men and women, others had been those of tradesmen or those who had gone bankrupt. Contents up to bid could include everything in the house! Auctions were a means for many families to survive financial ruin.
About the Series
Book 1: Her Beguiling Butler
The lovely widow at Number Ten Dudley Crescent hopes to lead a merry life without any husband to replace the elderly one she recently buried. The butler could help but none of his solutions are proper.All of his desires are quite…dear me…scandalous.
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Book 2: His Tempting Governess (Release TBA)
At Number 18, Baldwin Summers, the Earl of Cartwell, deals with three problems in his house. At thirty-six, he has decided to give up his two mistresses.
Recently he’s had thrust upon him quite suddenly his cousin’s eight-year-old daughter. The child is a terror and needs a firm hand. With no idea how to handle his suddenly acquired eight-year-old ward, he hires a governess. Can make her more than his governess?
About the Author
Cerise DeLand loves to write about dashing heroes and the sassy women they adore. Whether she’s penning historical romances or contemporaries, she’s praised for her poetic elegance and accuracy of detail.
An award-winning author of more than 60 novels, she’s been published since 1990 by Pocket Books, St. Martin’s Press, Kensington and independent presses. Her books have been monthly selections of the Doubleday Book Club, Rhapsody Book Club and the Mystery Guild. Plus she’s won countless 4, 4.5 and 5 star rave reviews from Romantic Times, Affair de Coeur, Publishers Weekly and more.
To research, she’ll dive into the oldest texts and dustiest library shelves. She’ll also travel abroad, trusty notebook and pen in hand, to visit the chateaux and country homes she loves to people with her own imaginary characters.
And at home every day? She loves to cook, hates to dust, lives to travel and go to Jazz class once a week!