Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What People Think of Denford

One of the enjoyable things about writing a series is seeing characters develop over two or three books until they are ready for their own story.  Julian, Duke of Denford, has been a favorite of mine right from the start. My other heroes and heroines don't always share my enthusiasm! There are mixed feeling, to say the least.

Julian's book, The Duke of Dark Desires, will be released two weeks from today.  Meanwhile you can enter my Goodreads drawing for two printed copies.  And here's a reminder of how some of Julian's friends and non-friends saw him in previous books.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Tour of St James's

When I was in London last month, I met a college friend for breakfast at the Wolseley in Piccadilly (pricey but worth it) then I took a walk around the area known as St. James's, site of so many places beloved of Regency romance.  I'm a fairly rubbish photographer but I posted my iPhone snaps on Facebook over the next couple of weeks. Now I've gathered those brief posts in one place.
Almack's now
If you read Regency era romances, you almost certainly know about Almack's, the exclusive Marriage Mart, home of warm lemonade and haughty patronesses. The building in King Street, St. James's, London is long gone but the name lives on in a rather boring modern office building on the site. And here's a historical view of an Almack's assembly.
Almack's then

Paxton & Whitfield, cheesemonger, has been in Jermyn Street since 1797. The aroma is divine. (I like the -monger suffix. Why aren't there bookmongers?)
Floris, the perfumer, has always been one of my favorite shops. The lily of the valley soap is sublime and a man cannot smell better than Floris No. 89. (James Bond wore Floris products FYI). Mary Shelley & Byron are both on record as favoring Floris scents but the shop is even older, having been in Jermyn Street since 1730.

Berry Bros. & Rudd as been at No. 3 St. James's Street since 1698! One of the world's oldest wine merchants, it started out also selling groceries. The famous 18th century scale, used by Byron and other notables, originally measured tea and coffee (the latter presumably in quantities to feed even my habit!). Years ago, when I worked around the corner on King Street, I used to sometimes buy their house wine which is called Good Ordinary Claret 
Byron's bum rested on this sitting scale!
Berry Bros. beautiful premises in St. James's Street

Lock's Hatters
Lock's, at No. 6 St.James's St. is the oldest hat shop in the world, dating back to 1676. It is still a family owned business. The hatter's website has a detailed and fascinating history of a business that has supplied hats to many notables, including Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill.
Hatchard's Book Shop
Hatchard's. No Regency heroine would dream of missing a trip to the Piccadilly book shop (founded in 1797) to feed her secret bluestocking habit. And quite often she runs into an attractive rogue there. I cannot say that's ever happened to me in the multi-floored old building, packed with a marvelous selection of books of all kinds. During a visit earlier this month I found Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn, and Eloisa James in the historical fiction section. No Miranda Neville, but that's something to aspire to!

Truefitt & Hill
Truefitt & Hill is the oldest barbershop in the world, established in 1805 by William Francis Truefitt. Truefitt styled himself as hairdresser to the British Royal Court. Sorry about the picture - I had to shoot it across St. James's St. and cars & taxis kept getting in the way. How dare they? Wouldn't a nice carriage have improved the picture?

The bow window of White's
There's no sign outside White's, London's oldest and most exclusive club - if you're a member you know where it is. It's easily identified by the famous bow window, whence Brummell and other Regency dandies disdainfully watched the world go by. (St. James's Street pretty much was the world for these guys). I have no idea what it's like inside because I've never been in: no ladies allowed, ever.

Brooks's Club was founded in 1764 as Almack's Club (not to be confused with the assembly rooms) by a group of Whigs who had been kicked out of Tory White's. The moved to these new premises in St. James's St. in 1777 and was renamed Brooks's. The club was famous for politics and gambling. Here's a photo taken lately and a 19th century view of the "Gaming Room." I have been inside. The reception rooms are let out for functions, including weddings, so women are allowed in!
A Regency era view of the Gaming Room at Brooks's
Brooks's today
Finally, no trip to St. James's is complete without popping into Fortnum & Mason, one of the most famous groceries (if one can use such a mundane word to describe it) in the world. In early November Fortnum's was Christmased up and stocked to the gills with holidays goodies. I cruised the aisle, fingering my credit card (it's not cheap) and considering the size of my suitcase. 

Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly front

Inside, Fortnum's was ready for the Christmas rush
When something caught my eye, I emailed my fellow authors of the Christmas in the Duke's Arms anthology and they said "buy it!!!!"  If you'd like to win a hamper full of Fortnum's goodies, courtesy of the four of us, hurry over to Carolyn Jewel's website before December 18th.