Historical Romance comes to Ham House!
Of course using a particular house as inspiration for the setting of a historical romance is something that many authors have done plenty of times before. Joanna Maitland, Elizabeth Rolls and I used an adapted version of Ashdown House as the setting for our anthology A Regency Invitation. I also used Ashdown to stand in as Delaval in The Penniless Bride. In the book the heroine thought it was quite an unusual building (ugly was the word she used!) The hero was most offended to hear his family home dismissed thus!
The difference with the current HMB/National Trust collaboration is that the house is specifically named and the story features as characters real people who lived there. On its website the National Trust suggests Dunham Massey, Montacute and Plas Newydd as other properties where love stories might provide the potential for a book. I'm sure we could come up with other suggestions of our own! Again I think Ashdown House would be perfect since it is said that the house was built expressly for “the love of a woman who never lived to see it,” Elizabeth of Bohemia, the Winter Queen, by her devoted cavalier William, First Earl of Craven. Or, if we want something from the Georgian period there is the Beautiful Lady Craven (as she styled herself!) with her rather racy love affairs. And a generation later we have the Regency Earl of Craven, soldier and rakehell, who married an actress. Plenty of material there – and how I would love to write those stories! I imagine that my colleagues on this blog must also be brimming with ideas of houses and characters that would suit these books.
So what do you think? Is the collaboration a good way of getting more National Trust members to read historical romance and of interesting historical romance readers in visiting National Trust properties? Is there a particular house anywhere in the world that you would like to see featured in a romance? Or a particular love story you would like to see told?