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Wash or brush up? Caring for Elizabethan clothing.

December 23, 2023

In our throw away age of fast fashion, it’s hard for us to comprehend just how expensive clothing was in Elizabethan England. In her book Tudor Fashion, Eleri Lynn tells us that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1532-1588) spent more for one suit of clothes that William Shakespeare paid for a house in Stratford-on-Avon less than ten years later.













Image via Wikimedia Commons Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester Anglo-Netherlandish School, Unknown Artist NPG

This level …

Cotehele and the Legend of the Chapel in the Woods

December 23, 2023

During the fourteenth century, marrying an heiress was a great way for young men to enhance their wealth and future prospects. In 1353, William Edgecombe seized such an opportunity when he married Hilaria de Cotehele. As a result of their union, William acquired extensive lands, including a substantial manor that overlooked the picturesque River Tamar, situated near Calstock in Cornwall.















The family thrived, partly due to the profits from …

The Death of Katherine Raleigh’s Youngest Son, Sir Walter and The Red Velvet Bag

October 28, 2023






Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh (painted around 1598) National Gallery of Ireland via Wikimedia Commons










There was an autumnal chill in the air as Sir Walter Raleigh left the cell in the Gatehouse near the West end of Westminster Abbey where he had spent what was to be his last night on earth.

On the morning of the twenty-ninth day of October 1618, the feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude and the day of Lord …

The Haccombe Horseshoes

August 29, 2023

These ancient horseshoes are nailed to the door of St  Blaise, Church, Haccombe, Devon.


Only one and half horseshoes still cling there today, but the marks where nails once held the other two shoes from a set or four are clearly visible in the weathered wood.




The Legend

Legend has it that these horseshoes belonged to a valiant steed, victor in a most extraordinary race to decide a reckless wager to decide the ownership of the Manor of Haccombe.


Inhabiting their sixteenth century world  — dressing as they did

June 20, 2023

The late Dame Hilary Mantel advised that those who aspire to write historical fiction should aim to inhabit the era in which their writing is set.

“Live in that world,” she said, “and this magic day comes and it becomes solid and real.  If you can get your five senses working for you, you are home and eventually your dreams will move to your chosen period as well.”

I’ve taken that advice on board and I now spend much more time in the sixteenth century than the twenty-first.

I …

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