Friday, March 7, 2008

Live Research:Ham House by Rosemary Morris

I research my romantic historicals intensively, reading, using the website and visiting places of interest. In the summer, Anita Davidson, author of Duking Days, and I visited Ham House, near Richmond in Surrey, England.

Built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshal to James 1st, and subsequently owned by the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale, Ham House is now owned by the National Trust.

I imagined the hero, Chesney, and the heroine, Richelda, of my novel Tangled Hearts, taking the air in the magnificent grounds and treading the floors of Ham House.

Of particular interest to me were the closets, small rooms which are more intimate than the larger rooms such as the North Drawing room.

There are six closets at Ham House. Two of which fascinated me because closets or ‘clossets’ as the word would have been spelt in times past are used by the heroine in my new novel, Tangled Lives, also set in the reign of Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch.

The first was the Green Closet hung with green damask where cabinet pictures and miniatures were displayed.

The second was the Duchess's Private Closet. Where the Duchess of Lauderdale, who inherited Ham House, kept books, tea and valuables. It is furnished with lacquered furniture and hung with pictures.

During my visit, I enjoyed imagining the Duchess in her 'Bathing Roome'. When bathing, her bath was surrounded by a canopy that created the steam laden atmosphere of a Turkish Bath. After she stepped out of the bath, I visualised her entering the adjacent room. There warmed by a fire, her maid massaged her with oil and wrapped her in towels.

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All the best,

Rosemary Morris
Tangled Hearts available now from,, and soon in bookshops.

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