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Lauren “Amethyst” Royal
What inspires me? Castles!
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved reading stories about people who lived in castles. Once I was grown up and able travel overseas, all I wanted to do was stay at a castle. Since then I have been lucky to stay at several different castles (for just one night each, because castle stays are expensive!)—and most of the castles I’ve stayed in have been used for homes in my books. Here are my favorites!
AMBERLEY CASTLE: Colin Chase’s home in Amethyst
Amberley Castle: See the tiny spot of red in the photo? That’s me, standing in Lower Court, within the castle walls.
This was the very first castle I stayed at, way before I started writing a book (writing is my second career). Many years later, when I sat down to write Amethyst, I just had to make charming Amberley Castle my first hero’s home. It’s called Greystone in my books.
Amberley is a small castle in West Sussex, in the South of England. Charles II visited the castle in 1651 and 1685. The then tenant, Sir John Brisco, commemorated the second visit by commissioning a mural of Charles and Queen Catharine, which can still be seen in the Queen’s Room, now a gourmet restaurant. The castle has passed through many hands and is now run as a Country House Hotel. The walls exude the spirit of dreams and legends, and a stay there is the stuff memories are made of, well worth the splurge.
LESLIE CASTLE: Caithren Leslie’s home in Emerald and Cameron Leslie’s home in Forevermore
Leslie Castle: That’s me, wearing red again, standing in front of this little whitewashed castle. Can you tell red is my favorite color? 😉
Caithren’s home was inspired by the real Leslie Castle in Scotland. Sadly, this charming little castle is no longer open to the public, but I was fortunate to stay there when it was still being run as a luxurious B&B—again, long before I ever wrote a book. That’s how much these castles have inspired my writing…I never forget a castle!
Set at the west end of the Bennachie Range, thirty miles from Aberdeen, Leslie was the original seat of Clan Leslie. The current castle, a turreted 17th century baronial house, is the third fortified building on the site since 1070. By the time of my story, the property had fallen out of Clan Leslie hands…but, fanciful as I am, I like to imagine that perhaps a minor Leslie family such as Cait’s might have lived there. In 1979, the decaying roofless ruin was acquired by a member of the Leslie family and restored to its former fairy-tale beauty.
BORTHWICK CASTLE: Trick Caldwell’s home in Amber
Borthwick Castle: Sir Walter Scott described Borthwick as by far the finest example of the Scottish castles which consist of a single “donjon,” or keep.
Duncraven Castle was invented when I stayed at Borthwick Castle, twin towers located just south of Edinburgh in Scotland. Built in 1430 by the first Lord Borthwick, it’s said to be haunted—and it really does feel haunted inside! Borthwick’s virtually impregnable stone walls sheltered Mary Queen of Scots in her last days of freedom, and nearly a century later it was besieged by the forces of Oliver Cromwell.
Weathered and nobly scarred, Borthwick still stands hundreds of years later, now run as a bed and breakfast. Do treat yourself with a stay there if ever you get a chance. And when you climb the winding staircase to your chamber, don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking over your shoulder…
See more pictures of these castles and others I’ve visited on the “Real Places” pages on my site at laurenroyal.com
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