Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Castle Howard

Traveling Tuesday: Castle Howard

Credit: Pixabay

I’m nearly finished with my Christmas story that will be included in The Strength of My Heart charity anthology later this year, and I had lots of fun researching the setting. “A Lesson in Love,” is set in the Yorkshire area of northern England, located about four-and-a-half hours from London and about an hour east of Leeds. The area is an intriguing mix of geography with coastline to the east and moors to the north. Its history stretches back well before the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD with tribal inhabitants known as the Brigantes and the Parisi. Additional heritage includes the Vikings as well as Norman castles, medieval abbeys, Tudor houses, and the 13th-Century cathedral York Minster.

Fast forward to World War II when the British government requisitioned country houses across the
United Kingdom for the war effort. Saying no wasn’t an option, and some members of the peerage offered their house for a particular use before the government could take it. These immense country manors were repurposed for military command centers, barracks, hospitals, storage for art collections, listening and monitoring centers, MI5 headquarters, evacuated schools, secret project facilities, and one location, Badminton House was used as a refuge for Queen Mary who, according to John Martin Robinson’s Requisitioned: The British Country House in the Second World War, “arrived with a vast retinue unannounced one day and stayed for the duration of the war.”

While searching for the “perfect” place, I reviewed photographs of dozens of stately homes that dot the English, Scottish, and Welsh countryside. I decided to remain in England and wanted something in the far reaches of the country, an area vastly different from the city of London where both of the main characters are from. I fell in love with Castle Howard, a sprawling Baroque home that is not a “fortified structure” as a true castle is, but rather a home built on the site of a former castle. Further research revealed a fascinating history and memorable family members from a “strong-willed character with Liberal and progressive views who disinherited her eldest son whom she disliked” to “a mad uncle who never lived in the house.” When I discovered that Castle Howard housed Queen Margaret’s School from Scarborough during World War II, I knew I had my setting.

Castle Howard has been the residence of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for over 300 years. Construction began in 1699 and was completed in 1811 with the Long Gallery. Surrounded by more than 13,000 acres (the equivalent of twenty square miles!), the home is still a private residence. If you have seen either the 1981 television version or the 2008 cinematic version of “Brideshead Revisited,” you’ve seen this magnificent home. Castle Howard was also seen in the sixth episode of the first season of “Bridgerton.” To get a view of the entire property visit: https://www.castlehoward.co.uk/


A Doctor in the House

They’re supposed to be allies, but mutual distrust puts this pair on opposite sides.

Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart?

Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?

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