Hi, here’s Jo, late for her day. No real excuse except forgetting what day of the week is what.
Things are still going well for A Lady’s Secret. It’ll be #10 on the NYT this Sunday, and it’s also on the Publishers Weekly list for the third week. We threw a party last weekend chez Beverley, and someone sent a balloon, as exhibited by the Cabbage Patch Kids and other toys. (Also duly admiring the list in the paper, and Billy dazzled by reflected glory!)*G*
I’ve been having fun researching Doncaster for my next book. The main action starts in Sheffield, but before I knew it, they were off to Doncaster about which I know nothing other than that It’s a racing town. (Growing up in England in a family that listens to the radio a lot, the young mind accumulates strange things. There’s the daily weather report for the fishing trade, talking about places like Dogger Bank, and there’s the regular reports from horse racing, including places like Thirsk (which was one setting in Secrets of the Night) and Doncaster.)
Doncaster was actually the setting for the first modern horse race, in England at least — the Doncaster Cup, and then later for the much more famous St Leger.
All about the St Leger That was started by Major General St Legerwhose career is typical of the period of the Malloren novels, and the Marquess of Rockingham, who both surely knew Rothgar and the Countess of Arradale.
There’s one of Rockingham’s horses of the time.
Below, we have Rockingham in his peerage robes. Does it bother you or turn you on to think of Rothgar in a similar get up for a state event? Even the baddest-boy peer hero had to wear such outfits. I sometimes amuse myself with that image.*G* There are more period portraits here. Check out, too, the portrait of the Montague sisters, and the explanation of the bared shoulder. Portraits are so fascinating.
My wandering research trail thus led me to Rotherham, particularly connected to St. Leger the person, and a nice site with historical links. History of Rotheram which included a couple of enclosure acts in the early 1760s and some details of weekly wages in a variety of industries at the time.The wages page.
I wasn’t so much interested in the lace making in Bedford or even the potteries in Rotheram, but the plating and cutlery in Sheffield was nice, even though the detailsl will probably not make it into Christian’s book. How does Major Lord Grandiston end up in Sheffield and Doncaster? Thereby hangs a tale, to be called The Secret Wedding, but unavailable until next year, even to me, as I’m only about half way through.
Men earned 14s 6d, women 4s, and girls 3s The only reason I can see off the top of my head for there being no boys’ wages there is that they were all apprentices, who wouldn’t be paid in a regular manner. Such figures give context to the expenditures of the more highly born, but only to an extent, as there was a huge divide. A traveler might spend at least half of that man’s weekly wage to stay one night at an inn if he has a carriage and horses.
But come to think of it, the price of a good hotel room today — say $200? — could be half the weekly income of someone on the poverty line. Those 14/6 men, however, were prosperous skilled workers.
If you don’t know, s is a shilling, and there were 20 to a pound. d is a penny (from the Roman dinari, they say) and there were 12 to a shilling. And there were halfpennies and farthings back then, too. (Farthing was a quarter of a penny.) Arithmetical problems about the price of apples were lots of fun when I was a child.
The same page also shows the price of mutton as a reference for the value of the wages, and it seems to have been about 2s a stone, I assume for the undressed carcass. (A stone is 14 lbs). Never know when it comes in useful!
In addition, I wanted to find out about the inns and pubs in Doncaster. First I found a good website about the modern state of affairs. Which now will not let me access it. I’ll post the link later. That led me to fire off a query to the Doncaster Local Studies Library about which inns existed in 1764, which came through brilliantly, and then with maps from the period!
But, but, looking at the list I see this:
Black Bull – opened 1760, rebuilt 1920. Nice, as that’s one I had down to mention.
AND: The Black Swan – opened 1730, no record of landlord in 1764, 1st landlord
mentioned John Webster in 1775
Those of you who’ve read A Lady’s Secret will know that an inn called The Black Swan has some minor significance, even though that one is far away in the south.
It’s the sort of detail that makes the writer’s heart take a turn, for both good and bad reasons. It could be a gift, or a major disturbance in the storyline. If this was Ithorne’s boo, I couldn’t ignore an inn called The Black Swan if it was anywhere in his range. With Christian, I think I can. It would be a distraction. So it’s a nice turn of the heart — a little nod to alternate reality.
And it sent me looking for Black Swan Inns anywhere in the UK that were open in 1764.
I found this one. Can you find more?
Thank you, internet!