Given it is now released…
…I have decided I will take a break and not write another thing (for planned for publication) for at least six months. I have some ideas, and scraps here and there; but that’s all. So what does a “NWIP (no work-in-progress) author” do the day after the latest “magnum opus” is published? Well, he heads for Wales:
Our (with two friends) destination on Saturday? Tredegar House, near Newport:
Home for several centuries of the Morgan family – a prominent Welsh family. In 1951 it was sold and became a Roman Catholic girls’ school. It is now owned by the National Trust.
The property is not just the magnificent house:
There are extensive outdoor grounds (dogs are allowed everywhere except inside of the house), a restaurant, a gift shop, and a charity bookstore.
There is also a walk around a small lake:
The interior the late-1600s to mid-20th century house is about what you would expect. This is the entrance hall:
Off that entrance is a “morning room,” which is [APPLAUSE!] full of books:
Heading upstairs, its staircase is very “Downton Abbey-ish”:
And in various rooms there is of course art – and it being Wales, the nautical is commonplace:
There is currently an exhibition on the Chartist movement of the 1830s-40s…
…led locally by John Frost:
Late in the life of Sir Charles Morgan, 2nd Baronet…
…the Chartists were crushed by government forces for supposedly planning an insurrection. Frost was arrested and eventually sentenced to death, which was later reduced to exile in far-off Australia…
…for demanding the likes of the right to vote. (Frost’s sentence was commuted further, allowing him to leave for the United States. He was eventually allowed to return to live in Britain until his natural death.)
But we always need to remember also that nothing in our world ever happens in isolation.
The American Revolution (1775-83), or the American War for Independence as it is known hereabouts (“What revolution? All you did was toss out our king and replace him with a president…”), had been distant. Soldiers and sailors returned home to Britain annoyed by Britain’s defeat, but also pleased to have survived. Yet defeat in that war did not hit the overall British psyche nearly as much as did a later real “revolution.”
A few years after, in 1789, over in France, what had seemed initially to be a “middle class”-led revolt against a reactionary and entrenched aristocracy which resulted in the creation of a “National Assembly” (much like, many British felt, including many in the upper classes, their House of Commons) and a “constitutional monarchy” (again, rather like theirs), turned into a mania for “true equality” and a “new society” that spiraled downwards to a crazed butchering catastrophe by mid-1794. (Someone, uh, you know has written two historical romantic fiction novels about aspects of that.) That nadir led to a general named Napoleon seizing power in 1799, eventually declaring himself emperor, and threatening Great Britain’s very existence. By 1840 – only 25 years after Napoleon’s final defeat – the mass of “ordinary” British were no longer too enthusiastic about “revolution” as the means for “reforming” anything: “Revolution,” the French experience had not long before demonstrated to them horrifically, meant that a lot of innocent people – maybe themselves or their loved ones? – were going to be slaughtered.
Eventually five of the Chartists’ six major demands were more or less met by the governing upper classes. (The exception being yearly elections.) It just took a few further decades of meetings and (mostly peaceful) protests – and persuasion. It did not require mass guillotinings.
To return to the more mundane. That is a writing desk I would like to have. Particularly note the brandy in the glass.
Come to think of it, that latter object there has been on my own desk. 🙂
The kitchen downstairs is very “Downton Abbey-ish” too…
…including the various room bells, used to summon servants.
In 1939 the then current inheritor of the estate, the Roman Catholic convert, occultist, gay, Evan Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar, married as his second wife (his first died 1937) a much younger (born in 1915) Russian emigre lawyer, Princess Olga Sergeivna Dolgorouky. Her family had fled with her to Britain at age 2 from the 1917-18
effort like the French Revolution at creating overnight “equality” socialist-communist Russian revolution. Their marriage was surprise, surprise annulled in 1943. Living afterwards alone amidst a menagerie of animals, the 2nd Viscount died at age 55 in 1949.
And they say fiction is often bizarre?
A guide outside her bedroom told us that Olga lived until 1998 and died on Guernsey. The guide also shared she had actually told the National Trust how her late 1930s-40s bedroom had been arranged. So it is the only room in the house set up “exactly” as it had been:
Having wandered through the house, later in the charity bookshop outside at this Welsh stately home, I did what any normal American does: I spent £1 on a classic novel written by a famous Scot.
I have read it, and have it on my Kindle. But I did not have an inexpensive paperback. It also caught my attention when it brought this to my mind:
I love as a writer what you can invent. 😉
Oh, before I forget, this was not discussed by any of the house guides. I discovered it a little while ago. And it is big, as Wikipedia informs us:
…many episodes of Doctor Who have used Tredegar House for location filming, including the 2008 Christmas special “The Next Doctor” and the 2009/2010 Christmas/New Year special “The End of Time”.
See what you – especially you sci-fi fans – have just learned? Amaze your friends with your new knowledge!
At one point while we were within the house, as I paid close attention to one painting, my wife pointed out, “Your book is finished.”
Looking at the painting, I replied: “Uh, I know…”
…but I did not say that, hopefully, there will eventually be another book. 😉
And have a good Monday, wherever you are. 🙂