Recently, my husband treated me to the most amazing experience. And he did it in style, presenting me with a scroll he had typed, rolled and tied with a red silk ribbon. Apparently I missed the messenger who arrived on horseback to deliver it. (So he says.)
When I opened the scroll, it was an invitation to stay at the wonderful Long Crendon Manor! As you know, my Out of Time series is set in the twelfth century, so you can imagine my reaction, because Long Crendon Manor has an original twelfth century hall, although most of the remainder of the building is fourteenth century. It’s a medieval fiction author’s dream come true. And what’s a couple of hundred years here or there?
If you look carefully at the flags at the front of the actual manor house, you can see they fly the flag of Guillaume le Marechal – William Marshall, first Earl of Pembroke, (Yes, I know there should be an accent over his name, but my keyboard is not capable of adding it. Sorry.) who also has links to the building.
We spent a wonderful two days roaming the house, touching the stone walls and imagining all the people who had been there before us. What a pity my new (and much more authentic) bliaut was not completed in time. To have been able to glide around in that would have made things even more perfect.
If you love medieval history, it is an experience I heartily recommend. Some people have complained about the odd cobweb, but, in fact, I found that just added to the authenticity. The stairs are quirky, so if you have any disabilities, do ensure you have a room on the lower floor. Then, linger a while at the windows looking out into the bailey and imagine your lord riding in, maybe accompanied by William and his countess. Wander around the building and soak up the atmosphere. I promise you – if you love history, you’ll enjoy it. Although do take warm clothing (your gowns and mantles if you have them) since stone buildings of this antiquity are apt to be a little chilly. Although they do provide a heater for the bedroom, and there was heating in the bathroom of our room – I can’t vouch for the others. And, by the way, you won’t have to worry about lamps and candles. Although that would feel more authentic, they do in fact have very good lighting, which is much safer than live flames.
And for those of you who are unable, for whatever reason, to visit in person, I hope you enjoy my not-terribly-professional photos.
This, by the way, is what I really wanted to be wearing. Yes, it’s finished now, and I’ll be able to use it for my next book talk. Now, he’ll have to take me again, won’t he? Pretty please?