Friday, 7 June 2013

The House that Inspired the Prince Regent by Annie Burrows

One of the great things about being a writer of historical romance is that it gives me the perfect excuse to visit the many historical sites of England - under the guise of research.

 When I was in the planning stages of "Reforming the Viscount", (which is out this month - shameless plug!) I heard about a house that I thought would make the perfect backdrop for some of the later scenes in the book, and promising him There Would Be Scones, dragged my husband for a day out there.

The house I'd heard about, and which made me drag my husband out of his shed, was Sezincote, in Gloucestershire.  It was designed and renovated by a man who'd spent his working life in the East India Company Army - just like my heroine's first husband.  When he retired, this "nabob" wanted to include the beautiful features he'd seen in buildings in India in his English country house.  So he provided his architect with sketches he'd had drawn in India of domes and minarets, ornate fretworking and peacock tail arches for the windows.

available from Amazon UK

Many nineteenth century visitors found the results grotesque - but they talked about the place, because it was just so different.  And eventually news of this miniature Indian palace reached the ears of the Prince Regent. In 1807, during a visit to the nearby Marquess of Hertford, he became so intrigued by descriptions of the unique architecture, he drove himself over in his curricle to take a look.  He loved the house so much that he promptly informed his own architect, currently making "improvements" to his Marine Pavilion in Brighton, that he wanted to create a similar effect.  Only of course his domes were bigger, his minarets taller, and there were a lot more of both than the modest amount adorning the rooftops of Sezincote.

Fortunately my hubby, a keen photographer, was as fascinated by the house and grounds as both the Prince Regent and myself, and I had no trouble getting him to linger on site - him taking pictures of the amazing fountains and pools, and me mentally altering the layout of the shrubberies to fit with scenes I was already imagining taking place between the various pairs of lovers attending the country house party.  I discovered with great glee that many of the statues dotting the grounds were made of Coade stone - a substance which was much in use during the Regency era, until the recipe for making it was lost.  And that Suray, to whom the temple (pictured below) is dedicated, is prayed to in order to stimulate the intellect of the worshipper.

Later in the day, with my intellect duly stimulated, and my feet aching, I allowed hubby his promised scone, which was served to us, along with pots of tea, in the orangery which overlooks one of the lawns.

Visiting Suraya must have helped, because as I gazed out over the lawn, (and the back of hubby's head as he snapped yet more photos), I came up with the rules of a game which children who lived in such a house must surely have played....and also a way in which I could get it into a romance...


  1. Fabulous, Annie, love the house and it is now on my list of Places to Visit. And so intrigued by the romance - can't wait to read the book now!

  2. thanks Melinda. I love discovering out-of-the-way, slightly different houses to visit. This one is privately owned, not National Trust, so isn't very widely advertised.


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