Sunday, 15 April 2018

A visit to the moated manor house of Lower Brockhampton.


Judith Arnopp 
Lower Brockhampton Manor

A few weeks ago I escaped for a few days on a writing retreat/ research weekend in Herefordshire. We stayed in a beautiful barn conversion near Lyonshall, very central to some wonderful places of historic interest. Among other places we visited The Brockhampton Estate, spending a few tranquil hours at Lower Brockhampton Manor.

Lower Brockhamptom is timeless. The timber framed house and gatehouse nestles in a valley, ringed by a damson orchard and historic woodland. The house emerges as you walk up the drive and the sight halts you in your tracks and mesmerised, you reach for your camera.


The manor was home to the same family for 900 years. The land occupied since Anglo Saxon times, the house first mentioned in the 12th century, with the current dwelling dating back to the late medieval, extended further in the Tudor period.

As an author writing in the medieval/Tudor period, places like Lower Brockhampton are invaluable. I prefer to visit out of season, when there are fewer tourists, less intrusive signage and visitor attractions to distract from the past I am trying to locate.

I entered the gatehouse first. It was clearly built for status, not defence and according to the guidebook, may have been a ‘visual pun’ in its mirroring of the manor behind. From the outside the gatehouse is a wonky, half-timbered delight, the diamond casements twinkling a welcome. I passed into the shadow of the gate. There have been many repairs and alterations over the years, the staircase is 17th century, the bargeboards on the south gable are modern copies from restoration in 1999.  I run my fingers over the magnificent studded door and instinct tells me it is original. The guidebook confirms this and directs me to examine the bargeboards to the north, also original, the carving still remarkably vivid for its age.

The upper floor is uneven, the beamed ceiling aged to a glorious golden brown. On the walls you can trace the vague shadow of religious marks symbolising the Virgin Mary which, again according to the guide book, support the rumours of illegal Catholic masses held there during the Protestant years. I look around at the evidence of summer swallows and house martins, the ancient floors now trodden only by modern tourists, and wish those praying Catholics would show themselves and tell me how things really were.

Inside the main house, the National Trust directs visitors along a trail that follows the history of the manor’s inhabitants. The great hall for instance is laid out in 17th century style but it is possible to see how it once worked as a medieval hall. As you move through the building, through the centuries the artefacts and the manner in which the rooms were used become more familiar. Close to the end of the trail, I came upon a lounge just like my grandmother’s house in the 1960's with a fireplace, a writing desk, a radio and a three piece suite. Being contrary by nature, I walked round in the opposite direction so I could emerge with the earlier historical period fresh in my mind.


As much as I appreciate the work undertaken by the trust, and know the survival of properties like Brockhampton depend on them, I do find the stage set interiors sometimes impede rather than assist my imagination. 




It was outside that my creative juices began to flow. I strolled around the moat, examined the much plainer architecture at the back of the building, craned my neck to see the vast Tudor chimneys and was lured toward the silent peace of the ruined chapel. 


In the undergrowth I heard small scurrying creatures whose way of life at Lower Brockhamptom hasn’t altered at all. Thr crows in the wood, the ducks on the moat, the moles who've dug up the meadow and the garden.


It was particularly cold, even for late March, with huge cumulonimbus clouds decorating the blue sky. Every so often, the sun burst from cover, stimulating reflections on the moat that mirrored the manor, the gatehouse, the sky – revealing another world beneath; a world very much like this one but enticing – the place I’d been seeking, the house where my characters dwell.








I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area, and if you are not then the journey will be worthwhile, regardless of how far you have to travel.

Judith Arnopp's novels include:
The Beaufort Chronicles: Books One to Three
A Song of Sixpence
Intractable Heart
The Kiss of the Concubine
The Winchester Goose
The Song of Heledd
Peaceweaver
  The Forest Dwellers  

Photographs copyright: Judith Arnopp

For more information please visit: www.judithmarnopp.com or author.to/juditharnoppbooks
For further information about The Brockhampton Estate visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brockhampton


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Giveaway! Sexuality and its Impact on British History

I am delighted to offer TWO  copies of Sexuality and its Impact on British History - the British Stripped Bare. 

Eight authors: Annie Whitehead, Gayle Hulme, Hunter S Jones, Dr Beth Lynne, Emma Haddon-wright, Jessica Cale, Mary Ann Coleman and myself examine the impact of actual or implied sexual relationships on British history.

In my contribution to the anthology I delve deeply into the poetry of Thomas Wyatt, examine the events surrounding the arrest of Anne Boleyn and those accused alongside her, and consider Wyatt’s part in it.



Sexuality and its Impact on History chronicles the impact of romance and sex from the time of the Anglo-Saxons, through medieval and Tudor courtly love tradition to the Victorian era. It is due for publication in March 2018 by Pen and Sword Books.

For the chance of winning a copy please leave a comment below about why you'd like to be among the lucky winners. Your copy will be sent out on publication day -  30th March 2018. 

View on Amazon

Friday, 5 January 2018

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare

Available March 2018! 



Sexuality and Its Impact on History: the British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, and Tudor escapades - including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots - the Regency, and down to the 'prudish' Victorian era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores. Published by Pen&Sword Books, UK.

Chapter 1
Godiva: Lady, Legend, Legacy
Emma Haddon-Wright
Chapter 2
Rioting in the Harlot’s Embrace: Matrimony & Sanctimony in Anglo-Saxon England
Annie Whitehead
Chapter 3
The Art of Courtly Love: The Ideal and Practice of Love in the Middle Ages
Jessica Cale
Chapter 4
The Tudor Marriage Game
MaryAnne Coleman
Chapter 5 
These Bloody Days: The Relationship between Anne Boleyn & Thomas Wyatt
Judith Arnopp
Chapter 6 
The Marriages of Mary Queen of Scots
Gayle Hulme
Chapter 7
Succession, Confusion and Ramifications: Who Should Wear the Crown?
Dr. Beth Lynne
Chapter 8
Lips of Flame & Heart of Stone
The Impact of Prostitution in Victorian Britain and its Global Influence
Hunter S. Jones

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Happy New Year and Things to look forward to in 2018

I know I am not alone is saying 2017 has not been an easy year and as I sit here on a cold bleak 2nd of January I cannot help but wonder if 2018 will be any better.  But I am a great believer in optimism - I hold a strange mystic conviction that come midnight on the 31st December a magic wand wipes away the mistakes and sorrows of the old year and the new day dawns bright and shiny and unspoiled. Every January I say 'This is the year I shall lose weight, write a record breaking best-seller, find the perfect work/life balance.' 
Sadly, although I have many things to be thankful for, once again none of this quite came to be so I have decided to make 2018 my year instead. Happily, there are already a few things in the works that should help it along.

I am glad to say that the final book of The Beaufort Chronicles, The King's Mother is doing well, the reviews that have come in are good, encouraging me to begin another set much later during the reign of Henry VIII ... but more on that later. All my books are available for your kindle or in paperback. You can purchase The Beaufort Chronicles here.

As I type this the final edits are being completed on an audio version of The Beaufort Bride, with Books two and three soon to follow. I am delighted to be working with Tessa Petersen who is doing a great job of the narration and will soon be moving on to the next books in the trilogy. Also in the pipeline is an audio production of The Kiss of the Concubine; a story of Anne Boleyn. This new enterprise will open up my work to a wider audience so if you have friends or family who prefer audio, do let them know.

My other big news is that I shall shortly be joining fellow authors Annie Whitehead, Hunter S. Jones, Jessica Cale, Maryanne Coleman, Gayle Hulme, Emma Haddon Wright and Dr Beth Lynne in launching our anthology Sexuality and its Impact on History - a collection of scholarly essays examining the truth behind romantic and sexual relationships which have shaped British history. You can read more about it on Hunter S Jones' webpage by clicking here. The book is to be published in March by Pen&Sword Books and is available to pre-order here.

My contribution to the anthology concerns the persistant rumours of a romantic attachment between Anne Boleyn and the poet, Thomas Wyatt. I shall be examining some of his wonderful poetry that holds so many teasing possibilities.


Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, helas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame. 


I shall be blogging about this further during the coming months. in the meantime, have a wonderful New Year full of laughter and company and, of course, good books to read.

www.judithmarnopp.com
author.to/juditharnoppbooks