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ENTRY FORM BELOW! READ POST FIRST!
Cheryl “Diamond” Bolen
My favorite locale for books is the same place that’s my favorite locale in real life—the city of London. I first went to London with my family almost thirty years ago. In all, I’ve stayed in the city nine times. Two of those times my husband and I took a flat for several weeks. It was located within a five-minute walk of three different “tube” stations so we could use our handy little transport pass and zip all over this huge city.
Though London now possesses 32 boroughs, most of these were considered far out in the country during the Regency period that I write about. My heroes and heroines always live in Mayfair. I’ve walked every street of Mayfair. I stand in the center of Berkley Square where all the big multi-story mansions are now occupied by businesses with neon signs and imagine what it was like when Lord and Lady Jersey lived there during the era I write about.
I stroll St. James and peer at the exteriors of the same gentlemen’s clubs that Regency men belonged to, and I especially enjoy walking through the Royal Green Park which stretches between Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace. I always visit Spenser House, which has a terrace overlooking lovely Green Park and which is touted as the only remaining 18th century townhouse in London. (Others that remain have not retained the original footprint.)
On bustling Piccadilly, I try to imagine how the street looked when it was lined with aristocratic mansions. Remnants of Lord Burlington’s house remain in the Royal Academy there, and the mansion Lord and Lady Melbourne built there in the late 1700s remains as Albany. I sneak into its courtyard and stand there in awe. Lord Byron once lived there. As did three Prime Ministers—and Georgette Heyer.
I never miss the opportunity to visit the National Portrait Gallery, just behind Trafalgar Square. Several rooms there are dedicated to Regency figures. I never grow tired of spending hours there, studying the portraits of those I’ve read about.
Not far away is the pub where Dr. Johnson hung out in the 18th century, though it’s much older than that. We always stop by for a pint in its front room beside a roaring fire.
Though the borough of Kensington is now posh and considered to be in Central London, I remember that Lord Holland, who lived there, took lodgings closer in town for the Parliamentary season because Kensington was then considered out in the country. The extensive grounds surrounding his former house are now a lovely, well-visited London park. In Regency times, transport within London was difficult and time-consuming because of all the toll gates.
The tollgates are gone, and the mansions have been subdivided many times over, but London’s rich history still resonates with every step on its well-traveled pavement.
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