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.
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.
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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.
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...