Tuesday, 19 February 2008

English Lord, Ordninary Lady - the setting (part one)

Elmhurst Hall in English Lord, Ordinary Lady is based on the stunning Penshurst Place in Kent. I hasten to add that Penshurst is in no way falling apart at the seams, as Elmhurst is at the beginning of my book, in fact it seems to be a thriving enterprise, and I don’t think there has been anything like the family troubles that I gave the Radcliffes. I made all of that up.

The whole idea of the exhibition of the late lord’s treasures came from a completely different location, which will be the subject of the next blog.

What I thought I might do is just post the pictures with a little snippet of the book underneath. Unfortunately, my photos were taken on an overcast October day rather than in spring and summer, when the book was set.

Will’s first view of Elmhurst Hall.

“The turrets and chimneys on Elmhurst Hall rose above the surrounding trees, its sandstone walls warmed to a golden yellow by the slanting afternoon sun. Long-paned windows filled the stonework and high arches curved over the heavy wooden doors.”

As Will tries to find his way from the car park to the hall, he catches glimpses of it above the yew hedges:

“Two tugs at a rickety-looking gate covered in peeling green paint gave him entrance to the garden. There wasn't a big open space as he'd expected; it was divided into much smaller sections by thick yew hedges.”

On the North American release, there is a little landscape picture on the back cover. Considering the artist saw none of these photos, I’m staggered by how similar the illustration is to the ‘real’ Elmhurst. High-five to the artist!

Will sees the back of Elmhurst from the rose garden:

“He knew enough about architecture to recognise that the building was a patchwork of different periods and styles, some sections dating back to the sixteenth century.

The wing facing the front gates had obviously been added later, the grand fa├žade, but round the back of the building, one could see the history. Different sections had been added by previous owners all wanting to improve Elmhurst Hall and leave their fingerprint on it. Now it was his turn to do the same.”

Josie lives in a cottage on the estate:

“Josie walked down the path that led to her stone cottage. It was an odd little building, tucked into the corner of one of the garden walls, as if someone had just built it there as an afterthought.”

This is the walkway that leads to the orchard where Will and Josie share their first kiss:

“Even without the moonlight she knew she was in the right place. The scent of apple blossom hung in the air like a cloud. Come autumn it would be heavy with the cidery fug of rotting fruit, but now the fragrance in the orchard was cleansing and pure.”

The beautiful surrounding Kent countryside:

Will and Josie carry Hattie back to the cottage after the wedding:

“Hattie’s body seemed to get denser as he walked and, without craning his neck to check, he knew she was in the dozy half-state between wakefulness and sleep. When they finally reached the cottage he handed her over to Josie, who was steadily avoiding eye contact, and watched as she carried her up the stairs to bed.”

The open-air theatre, where Will and Josie share an intimate moment:

“Josie sat beside Will on the grassy lawn of one of the smaller ‘rooms’ hidden away in the maze-like gardens. Each area had its own particular atmosphere and function.

This garden had been designed as an open-air theatre, with a grassy raised stage on one side and a gentle crescent-shaped slope for the select audience to sit on.”

The herb garden, where Will finds the journalist:

“A path ran from the rose garden into the herb garden. Will started to follow it but stopped almost instantly. He could hear a low voice muttering in a one-sided conversation.”

Josie meets Will’s grandmother near the fountain in the large rose garden at the back of the hall:

“In the rose garden, staring into the fountain, there was a figure. For a split-second, her heart lurched, but then she realised it was a woman, slim but obviously in her golden years. Her hair was a pale platinum blonde and she wore a smart brown suit finished off with leopard-print shoes.”

And another shot to finish off with, just because I think it’s pretty:


Anonymous said...

Wow, Fiona. How beautiful is all that? I just want to go there, right now!


Jessica Raymond said...

Well, you did a great job, Fiona, because this is all exactly how I imagined it as I was reading the book!

Fiona Harper said...

Yay! Mission accomplished!