The Founding Fathers of English Racing – The Godolphin Arabian


I know of few horse-mad little girls who have not read Marguerite Henry’s King of the Wind, which won the Newbery Medal as the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”  in 1948. I still have my much-loved hardbound copy. I daresay not many of those little girls realized Henry’s book was a fictionalized biography of perhaps the greatest foundation sire in the history of Thoroughbred racing. King of the Wind took a great deal of its material from the legends and folklore which surrounded the stallion, sometimes known as Sham or Shamim. The real story of his arrival in England is in all likelihood a little less dramatic.

So far as we know, the horse who would become the Godolphin Arabian was foaled in 1724 in Yemen. As a young colt he was sent by way of Syria to the stud of the Bey of Tunis. It is believed the colt, along with a few others, was sent as tribute to Louis XV in 1728. Due to the long sea voyage the horses did not appear at their best, and the king was not impressed. In spite of that, it is doubtful Sham was used as a cook’s carthorse, no matter what the legends might say.

We do know the horse was imported from France to England in 1729 by Edward Coke, a gentleman with connections at court, including the Duke of Lorraine (later Francis I of Germany.) It is thought Coke acquired Sham by way of the French court, perhaps from the Duke of Lorraine himself. Coke stood the young stallion at stud at his newly purchased Longford Hall in Derbyshire.

Longford Hall By Geoff Pick, CC BY-SA 2.0,

One of Sham’s first offspring was out of Coke’s mare, Roxanna. This colt, Lath, foaled in 1731 was said to be a beautiful and elegant horse. He was sold to the Duke of Devonshire. Lath was considered the fastest racehorse of his day, faster than Flying Childers had been. He won the Queen’s Plate nine times out of nine at Newmarket. He was not as successful at stud, but his daughters went on to become important dams in the history of British racing. If you have read the other posts in this series you will know the duke had a taste for well-bred horses. In spite of his many flaws, you have to admire a man for that. Or perhaps only those of us who love Thoroughbreds do.

Unfortunately, Edward Coke died a young man, only 32 years of age, in 1733. He left his mares and foals to his friend, Francis, the 2nd Earl of Godolphin. He left his stallions – Sham, Whitefoot, and Hobgoblin – to one Roger Williams. However, in 1733 the Earl of Godolphin bought Sham from Mr. Williams and thus the horse became known as the Godolphin Arabian.

Descriptions of the Godolphin vary. The first recorded was that of the Vicomte de Manty who upon seeing Sham on the colt’s arrival in France described him as “beautifully-made although half starved, with a headstrong temperament that made him unloved among the barn staff.” He was an Arabian. What did they expect?

William Osmer, veterinarian and one of the men who knew the Godolphin best said:

“Whoever has seen him must remember that his shoulders were deeper and lay farther into his back than any horse yet seen; behind his shoulders there was but a small space; before the muscles of his loin rose excessively high, broad, and expanded, which were inserted into his quarters with greater strength and power than any horse ever yet seen of his dimensions. It is not to be wondered at that the excellence of this horse’s shape was not in early times manifest to some men, considering the plainness of his head and ears, the position of his fore-legs, and his stunted growth, occasioned by want of food in the country where he was bred.”

The reference to his stunted growth referred to his relatively short stature. Reports have him standing somewhere between 14’2 and 15 hands high. There is an early portrait of him in Lord Cholmondeley’s collection at Houghton. It is said to be a glamorized image, whilst Stubbs’s portrait is said to be an accurate depiction of a horse thought not particularly handsome by the standards of the day.

Godolphin Arabian
by George Stubbs

The Godolphin Arabian was Britain’s Champion Sire in 1738, 1745, and 1747. His most well-known colts were Lath, Blank, Cade, and Regulus – all outstanding racers. The latter three became champion sires in their own right. He also sired two important fillies – Matchless and Selima, who went on to become the dams of some of racing’s most important lines. The major Thoroughbred sire, Eclipse, traces his sire’s line back to the Darley Arabian, but his dam was a daughter of Regulus, thus Eclipse’s line is traced back to both of these founding sires of British racing.

Today the majority of thoroughbreds trace their sire line back to the Darley Arabian. However, many of America’s finest racers trace their sire line back to the Godolphin Arabian. These include Seabiscuit, Man o’ War, War Admiral, and Silky Sullivan. And a great many of  the horses who trace their sire line back to the Darley Arabian can trace their dam’s line back to the Godolphin Arabian.

Both the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian’s descendants have inherited skeletal and cardio anomalies which gift them with the build and stamina for racing. Passed along the sire lines, they have a shorter back, with five lumbar verterbrae rather than six, which gives them a longer stride. Secretariat’s stride was twenty-five feet, second only to that of Man o’ War, which was twenty-eight feet. And from the dam lines, they have abnormally large hearts, responsible for their incredible stamina. Secretariat’s heart weighed 22 pounds, twice the size of an average horse’s heart. I find it particularly fitting they inherit their hearts from their mothers.

The Godolphin Arabian with Grimalkin – courtesy of Fenwick Hall

The Godolphin Arabian stood at stud for over twenty years, the cat Grimalkin his one constant companion. He died on Christmas Day in 1753. His age was estimated to be 29 years. He was buried in the stableblock at Wandlebury House at Gog Magog in Cambridgeshire with solemn ceremony and a tribute of cake and ale drunk by the mourners. The house was torn down in 1956, but the stableblock remains and can be visited today, as can the grave.

Gog Magog Stables
Last resting place of the
Godolphin Arabian







Marguerite Henry’s book was a fictionalized account of this incredible horse’s journey to legend. However, there are two quotes from her work I hold to be true for the Godolphin Arabian and his fellow founding fathers. Three horses far from home who came to England and wrote their names in the history of British racing forever.

When Allah created the horse, he said to the wind, ‘I will that a creature proceed from thee. Condense thyself!’ And the wind condensed itself, and the result was the horse.

But some animals, like some men, leave a trail of glory behind them. They give their spirit to the place where they have lived, and remain forever a part of the rocks and streams and the wind and sky.


The Founding Fathers of English Racing – The Darley Arabian


The story of the Darley Arabian starts in a place featured often on news stories today. He was born in 1700 in the Syrian desert outside of Aleppo. Sheik Mirza II bred the magnificent bay colt and in 1704 the British Consul, Thomas Darley, offered to buy the horse for 300 gold sovereigns. At some point, the sheik decided he could not bear to part with the colt and sent emissaries to Darley to renege on the deal. Darley, however, was not to be denied. He arranged to have the colt acquired and smuggled out of the country by way of Smyrna. Thus it was, with instructions sent ahead to Darley’s brother, Richard, at the family seat at Aldby Hall, Darley’s newly acquired prize landed in England.


The Darley Arabian


Darley informed his brother the horse’s name was Manak, a descendant of the Muniqui line of Arabians, known for their speed and endurance. Manak’s breeding years spanned 1706 until 1719 and he is said to have covered (bred with) few outside of  Darley’s mares. He did, however, produce quite a few great runners. One of the colts he produced out of a non-Darley mare was Childers. Childers, foaled in 1715,  was out of a mare owned by Leonard Childers of Cantley Hall in Doncaster. The horse was later purchased by the Duke of Devonshire and became known as Devonshire Childers. His most well-known name was Flying Childers, and he was considered “the fleetest horse trained in this or any other country.”

Flying Childers continued his father’s line through his son Blaze. Blaze’s son Old Shales was an important trotting sire and is considered the foundation sire of the Hackney breed. Blaze’s great grandson, Messenger, became the foundation sire of the American Standardbred.

Founding Sire of the American Standardbred

The Darley Arabian sired a colt foaled in 1716 known as Bartlett’s Childers. Whilst this colt, for reasons of health, never raced, he became a great stallion for his owner, Mr. Bartlett. Barlett’s Childers stood at stud at Nutwith Coate in Yorkshire. He sired a number of first rate runners, but it was his son, Marske, who went on to sire the great horse, Eclipse, that insured Bartlett’s Childers’s place in racing history.

Aldby Hall Yorkshire                                                        
Aldby Hall Yorkshire

The Darley Arabian spent his entire life at Aldby Hall and lived to the ripe old age of 30 years, old for any horse, and especially for one during this era. With a bit of larceny, kidnapping, and smuggling the little bay foal born in the tents of the Bedouins of Syria ended his days in the green fields of England. And his legacy lives on in the racing horses, not only of England, but of the world.

The Founding Fathers of English Racing – The Byerley Turk


Have you given the horse strength? have you clothed his neck with thunder?

Can you make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.

He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength: he goes on to meet the armed men.

He mocks at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turns he back from the sword.

The quiver rattles against him, the glittering spear and the shield.

He swallows the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believes he that it is the sound of the trumpet.

He said among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smells the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

Job 39: 19-25

I have been a fan of English horse racing since I was a little girl watching the Grand National on telly in the little village of Kelsale, where we lived for three years whilst my father was stationed at Bentwaters AFB. The Sport of Kings, so called because of the heavy involvement of royalty from the beginning, (and probably because only someone as rich as a king can afford racehorses) has been a part of English history since the medieval period.

However, the true development of English racehorses, horses bred specifically to run and win races, can be traced back to three founding fathers, or as they are known in the horse breeding world – sires. The first of these was the Byerley Turk.

The Byerley Turk John Wooten (1682-1764)

Born in 1678 or 1679, the stallion was taken from a captured Turkish officer by Captain Robert Byerley of the Sixth Dragoon Guards under King William III of Orange at the siege of Buda in 1688. The stallion was Byerley’s warhorse when the captain was sent to Ireland. There are official records about a race held there in 1690, called the Silver Bell, which Captain Byerley’s charger won handily.

When Captain Byerley retired from the military the Turk was put to stud, first at the family home at Middridge Grange in County Durham and later at the family seat at Goldsborough Hall in Yorkshire. One of the important colts sired by the Byerley Turk was Basto, who ended up in the stable of the Duke of Devonshire and created quite a name for the Devonshire stables in racing circles.

However, his most important son was Jigg, a middling racer who sired Partner, who was a racing phenomenon in his day. Partner was the sire of Herod, a stallion who is considered one of the foundation sires of the modern thoroughbred. Herod’s progeny are responsible for carrying the Byerley Turk line through into the twenty-first century.

The Turk was known to be standing at stud well into 1704, the year he died. He is thought to be buried on the grounds of Goldsborough Hall. Captain Byerley followed him in May of 1714 and is also buried at Goldsborough.

Goldsborough Hall
Goldsborough Hall


Goldsborough Hall is now a popular wedding venue. However, I wonder, on a moonlit night if one listens carefully, if one might not hear the hoofbeats of the Byerley Turk and Captain Byerley swallowing the ground with fierceness and rage and glorying in the founding of the breed of magnificent creatures who carry on the tradition of the Sport of Kings.



Life is the tiniest bit crazy at the moment. Lets face it, actually, the world is the tiniest bit crazy at the moment. When the world or my life trespasses over into “I. Have. Had. Enough. Of. This!” territory, I brew up a cup of Earl Grey or six and transport myself into the realm of impossibly possible dreams. I am certain we all have that place we go when we want to live exactly as we were meant to live if some rude imposter had not stolen our real life and replaced it with this hectic, maddening, and frankly annoying existence we are expected to make our way through until someone realizes their mistake and drops us back into the life we were born to appreciate. And if you don’t have that place and those thoughts, humor me. They say it is dangerous to challenge a madwoman’s delusions.

Today, I want to introduce you to the form my Happy Place, for lack of a better and less gooey New Age term, usually takes. Here are a few of my favorite retreats.

I love this one for the lighting alone. What’s not to love about these chandeliers?

The library at Wimpole Hall. Home to 12,000 books. Any questions?

The library at Blickling Hall. Look at all of that natural light.

Ramerscale House Library.

Those carpets! And the globes!

Harewood House’s library has a collection of over 14,000 books. This could take some time.

  It needs a comfy chair, but that ceiling!

And the Nirvana of stately home libraries – Chatsworth – within whose walls over 20,000 books reside. Sigh!

The land of impossibly possible dreams is the best place to be when the world threatens to overrun you and the barbarians are beating at the gates of your mind. My library at home does not resemble these libraries in any way save for it has shelves and books. However, with enough Earl Grey, a comfortable chair, a purring tabby and a few snoring dogs, I can transport myself to one of these heavenly spots and escape for a while. I am a writer. I spend a great deal of time living in my imagination. They know me there, right down to the way I like my tea and the jam I like on my scones.

Here’s to those havens in our imaginations. And to dreaming our way to making them a reality. And if all else fails, here’s to the places and people and things that keep us sane in a crazy world. Hathaway, are there anymore scones? I still have a few more chapters to read before bed.


by Louisa Cornell

Regular visitors to Number One London have read of my obsession with research books written on the Regency era. I collect them with a fervor just short of that of the Regency’s most avaricious bibliomaniac. As a subdivision of my obsession, I want to tell you a bit about my relationship with research books written during the Regency era. What the latest generation of twenty-somethings would call ancient books. You know, books around 200 years old. Yes, according to my twenty-something year old nephew, 200 year old books are ANCIENT ! Sigh.

I currently own slightly over 500 research books about the Regency era. They are catalogued online at which is one of the earliest online cataloguing services. I understand there are far more now, but this one has served me well and the community is without peer when it comes to discussing and admiring the libraries of its members. My library is listed as public, which means it can be viewed by any member of LibraryThing. Below is the link to my Regency Research Book collection, which comprises 1/6th of the books I have catalogued so far. I won’t tell you how many of my books are not catalogued. The number frightens even me.

As dearly as I love my Regency research books, those books written and published during or just after the Regency era are my most prized. Why? It isn’t the monetary value nor the cache of having antique books to display on my shelves. I live in the middle of nowhere and my library is hardly ever seen by anyone else. My old books have incalculable value to me for two reasons.

Their proximity to the era about which or during which they are written puts my research as close to the source as I can reach. Ask anyone who is a fanatic about a certain period and place in history and they will tell you, whether it be visiting an exhibit of clothing sewn and worn during said era or reading a copy of a book written and printed during that era, extant resources are the best. To be able to actually look at an item, be it a Manton pistol or a single-lens quizzing glass or a lady’s corset, transports a person into a place as near to the era as they will ever be absent a teleporting police box, a ring of Scottish stones, or an acquaintance with a couple of gentlemen named Bill and Ted. Books written about an era during that era or shortly afterwards offer the very best view into not only the subject matter, but also into the mind of the writer. An invaluable view to have.

For instance,

1829 Edition Paterson’s Roads
Title Page Paterson’s Roads 1829 Edition



Foldout map from Paterson’s Roads 1829 Edition

Paterson’s Roads;

Being an Entirely Original and Accurate Description of All the Direct and Principal Cross Roads in England and Wales, with Part of the Roads of Scotland

By Edward Mogg

1829 – London – Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans; J. M. Richardson et al

Paterson’s Roads was one of the essential travel atlases of the Regency era. Those huge, unwieldy spiral bound atlases one can purchase at rest stops, restaurants, and in no less a location that Walmart have nowhere near the elegance of this volume, but they serve the same purpose. With Paterson’s Roads in hand a Regency gentleman, an ambitious coachman, or a young lady looking to escape an unwanted marriage might find his or her way nearly anywhere the road might take them. My copy has a bit of scuffing about the cover, but it does include all eight foldout maps intact, a rarity. It also has the added thrill, mixed with a bit of sadness, of coming from the library of a country house. The new owners of Lowick Hall in Cumbria have parted with large portions of the home’s library in order to afford renovations necessary to maintain the house. Their loss is my gain, but I cannot help but wonder at whose hands have touched this book before me and what adventures it took them on before it made its way across the Pond to me.

I own two editions of The Stately Homes of England, Illustrated with 210 Engravings on Wood by Llewellyn Jewitt. One is the 1877  two-volume first edition published in England and the other is volume one of the 1878 edition published in the United States. The British edition was an intentional purchase from a book dealer in Saxmundham, England. The American edition I came upon at a flea market and I simply could not leave it there to languish unappreciated. This book allows me to see these stately homes, many of them gone now, through the eyes of both a writer and an engraver who lived only slightly removed from the Regency era. One cannot put a price on their vision. And the wood engravings are exquisite.

Stately homes of England by Llewellyn Jewitt 1877 edition


My 1890 edition of Glimpses of Old English Homes, Illustrated with drawings and portraits by Elizabeth Balch is a bit worse for wear. As with all of my old books it is carefully wrapped and preserved and I wear gloves when I consult it. She is a fragile old girl, but the information and illustrations and the scholarly research conducted by the author provide myriad little details a researcher more removed from the era might never have the opportunity to see.

Glimpses of Old English Homes by Elizabeth Balch 1890 edition
Front page Glimpses of Old English Homes by Elizabeth Balch 1890 Edition








In addition to these three beauties, I own a few more ancient books, as my nephew would call them. I have an 1860 edition of William Makepeace Thackery’s The Four Georges – Sketches of Manners, Morals, Court and Town Life. This book is both entertaining and informative and tells me in no uncertain terms what the author thought of the Georgian era and the people who made the era what it was.

I own an 1821 edition of Real Life in London : On the Rambles and Adventure ofBob Tallyho, Esq. and His Cousin, the Hon. Tom Dashall through the Metropolis; Exhibiting a Living Picture of Fashionable Characters, Manners, and Amusements in High and Low Life. By an Amateur. Embellished and Illustrated with a Series of Coloured Prints, Designed and Engraved by Messrs. Heath, Alken, Dighton, Brooke, Rowlandson, &c. London: Printed for Jones & Co. This is a fun read and rife with all sorts of ideas for stories set in the Regency era. This is actually an imitation of the original work by Pierce Egan. However, this particular imitation is the one Egan is said to have favored the most. I have to agree with him.

I own The Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year 1804 which was actually published in 1806. This is the sort of volume one would have lying about the library or the lounge of a club or anywhere someone might want to pass a few hours reading articles about various subjects as they appeared in the year noted. I cannot tell you how fascinating it is to pick up this book and immerse myself in the major, minor, and every level in between events of a single year during the Regency era.

I own an 1818 edition of One Hundred Sixteen Sermons, Preached Out of the First Lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer, For all Sundays in the Year by William Reading, M.A. This book is especially close to my heart as it was given to me by a dear friend who knew how much I would treasure it. The inscription of the first owner is dated December 29, 1818. December 29th is my birthday. Reading the sermons probably has not made me a more pious person, but it has given me insight into the religious year and into the way people of this era practiced and thought of their faith.

I said before, there are two reasons I treasure these extant resources so very much. The second reason has nothing to do with monetary value, research value or their usefulness to me as a writer of Regency historical romances. It has to do with me as a human being. My Native American ancestors say “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”

That spiritual experience is what I have when I hold these books in my hand. When I curl up in a chair with a cup of Earl Grey and a plate of Walker’s shortbread and read the same pages someone from another time and place read I feel a connection, a tie to those long ago readers. I wonder about their lives, their hopes, and their reasons for owning and reading these books before me. When each of these books arrived, I spent a great deal of time holding it and turning it over and over again in my hands. I guess that makes me some sort of book geek, at best, and a book weirdo, at worst. Guilty as charged.

There is a reverence to the written word. Those of us who know the importance of words, of their preservation in these old books, can see as others do not the intangible connection books provide from one era to another, from one person to another, and from one soul to another. The electronic age has provided us with access to plenty of old books via interlibrary loan and google books. I do a great deal of my research this way. I confess if a book is particularly helpful I let the Harvard Bookstore print a google book up for me. They are cute little volumes and the script and text are presented exactly as they appear in the originals.

In the end, there is simply something about holding a stalwart leather bound volume in my hand and carefully turning the pages of a book other souls thought important enough, for any number of reasons, to preserve so that I might treasure it all over again. In that moment, I understand them. Their soul speaks to mine. And as important as our connection to each other is, we can learn a great deal from our connection to those who have come before us. Old books give us that chance – to connect, to learn, and to grow on our human journey, and our spiritual one.



by Kristine Hughes Patrone

On a recent visit to Hever Castle, I met with this formidable pair of “postilion boots” and decided that I had to find out more about the history of this footwear. Here, I share with you what I learned. First, from the Hever Castle website:

“The large leather and iron postilion’s boots date from 1690. A postilion was a man who rode one of a pair of horses that pulled a coach. It could be very dangerous if a leg became caught between the two horses, so each postilion wore one boot on that leg to protect himself from injury.

“Postilion riders usually rode the left horse of a pair and this style of travel was known as ‘posting’. Before the days of railways posting was the best method of travelling in England and on the Continent. Travellers would hire a private carriage from a postmaster. In England the postmasters were usually hotel keepers, and not employed by the Government. The carriage would travel from one posthouse to the next, where the postilions and/or horses could be replaced if necessary. Ordinarily a carriage was only taken on the main road, from one station to another. However, arrangements could be made to go off of the main road to a country house.”

Here are examples of postilion riders escorting carriages of various styles –


Above is the rear view of a pair of French postilion boots from the second half of the 18th century that I found on the website of military antiquarian Bertrand Malvaux. The description reads – “Black oiled leather with reinforced knees. Foot decorated with a cotton seam representing scrolls. One of these boots has still got its steel spur. Height: 56 cm; foot length : 32 cm.Very good condition (minor damage in the top part of boots). These surprising boots were used for postilions to protect their calves and knees from the shocks caused by the shaft of the coaches they drove. The wooden or leather sole was fixed onto the upper by pegs. It was curved so as to hold the stirrup on which it stood. These boots were called ‘the seven-league boots’. Indeed, at first, an average distance of seven leagues separated two staging posts.”

Finally, here is a bit on the distinction between postilion boots and the similar Marlborough jackboots, with further historical detail as to both, as found on Past Pleasures Ltd – Bringing History to Life:

“Here are a pair of my so-called ‘Marlborough’ jackboots, made somewhere between 1670 and 1712, according to the authority Miss June Swan of the Northampton Shoe Museum, which conserved them. (As my readers doubtless know, the midlands town was famous for its footwear. My family hail from there and for awhile owned a shoemaking factory; one of the regular customers was WG Grace for his cricket boots!).

“The massive cuffs at the knee would protect the wearer’s knees from an enemy on foot in a battle, as well as from thorns etc whilst out hunting. The high stacked leather heels not only follow the fashion of the period but also help to keep the feet firmly in the stirrups. On the underside you can see the leather pegs and hand-sewn details. The Square toes are a fashion that came about in about 1630 and died out about a hundred years later (thereafter the term ‘Old Square Toes’ was a derogatory remark).

“Unfortunately, although I have a pair of spurs of the period (not associated with the boots) I don’t have the distinctive ‘butterfly spur leathers’, the decorative shaped leather pieces worn at the instep.

“These boots are so stiff, heavy and strong they feel like they’re made of wood! They aren’t remotely supple and must’ve been hell to wear on foot –although the original owner would’ve changed into high-heeled buckled shoes as soon as he dismounted. And they would have been bespoke, so more comfortable. But heavy, and heavy-looking, as they are, they are not to be confused with ‘postilion boots’, those massive black leather boots you see in museums which were actually attached to the saddle, into which the post boy and/or postilion, riding one of the outside horses in a coach and four, would thrust his own booted legs.”


Excerpt from : Beguiled by a Baron

His brother may have failed to find an appropriate housekeeper in the last woman to hold the post, but there could be no doubting this one’s skill and knowledge. “Shall we?” Not waiting to see if she followed, he guided her from his most rare Collection Room to the one in the next hall. “In here, you’ll find all works of Western artists. From Shakespeare to his friends Herminge and Condell, you’ll find all the greatest here.”

He stole another peek at his housekeeper in time to detect the disapproving way in which she wrinkled her nose. “Only Western artists?”

Tamping down a grin, he guided her across the hallway to the adjacent room. “The finest of the Oriental literary masters is shelved in here.” Letting them inside, Vail displayed some of his finest books. “The Tale of Genji—”

“Genji Monogatari,” she whispered, touching a hand to her mouth.

“As well as Makura no Soshi,” he finished, supplying that Japanese title. He tamped down his tangible surprise at the depth of her proficiency in text. He wasn’t so snobbish that he’d be startled by a young woman’s mastery of Oriental literature, but neither was he so connected to women who had a grasp of even Western texts. His appreciation grew for the composed Mrs. Hamlet. “Shall we?”

The lady nodded eagerly. “Have you read all these titles?” she asked, as they resumed their tour.

“Many. Not most. My collections are too vast,” he said without inflection. It was a matter of fact, more than anything. “Not as impressive as Lord Dandridge’s, whose floors caved in from all the books he kept.”

A startled laugh spilled from the lady’s lips. Enchanted by the husky beauty of it, he looked over.

“You joke,” she charged, a sparkle in her eyes.

He swallowed hard. Blast if he wasn’t captivated by her wit and her bloody smile. “Indeed, not,” he forced himself to answer. Affixing a grin to his face, he leaned close to her ear. “Hardly as shocking as Lord Templeton who has a problem with rats and shoots them at all hours of the night to keep them from his texts.”

The lady widened her eyes. “Surely you jest now?”

Actually he’d didn’t. Mrs. Hamlet revealed her naiveté where his world was concerned and he far preferred her as just a woman with a deep appreciation for literature. Not wanting to disillusion her with the ugly he’d witnessed, Vail winked, earning another laugh. The sound of it did funny things to his heart’s rhythm. Unnerved, he hurried through the remainder of the tour, showing his housekeeper the seven rooms where his titles were kept. After they’d finished, the lady fell silent.

“Well?” he urged as they arrived at his office.

She gave her head a wistful shake. “It is a shame someone else will have possession of all these great works.”

And just like that, she’d brought them ’round back to her earlier disapproval. Not knowing why that should matter, just that it did, Vail rang the bell, needing for a restoration of his own logic where Mrs. Hamlet was concerned. “Mr. Lodge will show you to your rooms. You may have the day to familiarize yourself with the residence and have Mr. Lodge perform your introductions to the staff.”


This delightful excerpt from Christi Caldwell’s wonderful new historical romance hints at the hero’s knowledge of the Regency phenomenon – bibliomania. The author does an amazing job of setting a passionate love story in the middle of the world of the antique book dealer and the lengths to which Regency gentlemen went in order to acquire new volumes for their collections.

To read more about bibliomania, check out our previous post here :


And to read a poignant, witty, and moving love story set in the world of books and mania, check out Beguiled by a Baron, out today !!

A Lady with a Secret… Partially deaf, with a birthmark marring her face, Bridget Hamilton is content with her life, even if she’s been cast out of her family. But her peaceful existence—expanding her mind with her study of rare books—is threatened with an ultimatum from her evil brother—steal a valuable book or give up her son. Bridget has no choice; her son is her world.

A Lord with a Purpose… Vail Basingstoke, Baron Chilton is known throughout London as the Bastard Baron. After battling at Waterloo, he establishes himself as the foremost dealer in rare books and builds a fortune, determined to never be like the self-serving duke who sired him. He devotes his life to growing his fortune to care for his illegitimate siblings, also fathered by the duke. The chance to sell a highly coveted book for a financial windfall is his only thought.

Two Paths Collide… When Bridget masquerades as the baron’s newest housekeeper, he’s hopelessly intrigued by her quick wit and her skill with antique tomes. Wary from having his heart broken in the past, it should be easy enough to keep Bridget at arm’s length, yet desire for her dogs his steps. As they spend time in each other’s company, understanding for life grows as does love, but when Bridget’s integrity is called into question, Vail’s world is shattered—as is his heart again. Now Bridget and Vail will have to overcome the horrendous secrets and lies between them to grasp a love—and life—together.





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USA TODAY Bestselling author CHRISTI CALDWELL blames Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and pick up her laptop to try her hand at romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before crafting them a well deserved happily ever after!

Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut where she spends her time writing her own enchanting historical romances, chasing around her feisty seven-year-old son and caring for her twin princesses in training!



Taking the waters during the Georgian age was prescribed by physicians for everything from stomach troubles, to gout, to a nervous disposition. This cure usually involved a trip to one of England’s many spa towns, like Bath or Tonbridge Wells. It might entail a trip to the sea, to Brighton perhaps, to enjoy the efficacious benefits of the ocean breezes and the salt air. These treatments were basically harmless and, at times, quite helpful (so long as one did not mind the taste of the water at the Roman baths. Shudder!)

However, the last thing one wanted by way of medical treatment was hydrotherapy or water therapy as it was administered for cases of mental illness or madness, as it was more often called in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. The various forms this treatment took in this era ranged from mildly discomforting to death, not to put too fine a point on it.

The original proponent of water therapy for afflictions of the mind was Jean Baptiste Van Helmont. His method was first  recorded in his magnum opus, Ortus Medicinae, which was translated into English in 1662. He believed in the full immersion of the patient in ice cold water to the point of unconsciousness. This near death experience would, he declared, result in the death of the mad idea which caused the derangement in the first place. Sometimes, in addition to the extermination of the mad idea, the treatment resulted in the extermination of… well, the patient. At least he was no longer mad. Dead relatives were far more acceptable during the Georgian age, especially the Regency era, than mad ones.

Yes, this is what you think it is. The patient is tied to a crossbar and dropped into an ice cold body of water until they stop struggling. Only then are they raised from the water. Miraculously cured of madness. Or dead. Whichever comes first.

To be fair, this form of water therapy was not widely used after its side effects became apparent. Yes, even in the 17th century death was seen as a side effect.

Eventually methods of hydrotherapy that did not involve drowning the patient outright became popular among mad doctors, as they were called. For some practitioners it was a particularly appropriate title. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the two major forms of hydrotherapy were the douche or cold shower and the balneum or bath.

The bath was used more often for nervous disorders, to calm patients. The shower consisted of cold water poured over the patient’s head or sprayed directly into their face, and it was for the more violent forms of madness. Rather like turning a hose on dogs fighting. Even into the Regency era, the theory was madness was a spiritual rather than a physical or mental disorder. Therefore, a mad doctor had only to arrive upon the proper method to change the patient’s spiritual thinking to invoke a cure.

These doctors came up with a wide variety of methods by which to dispense this cure. Patients were wrapped tightly in sheets and placed in a cold bath, sometimes for hours on end. More inventive facilities had tubs with wooden doors over them with a hole for the patient’s head to stick out. Thus, the patient might be locked into the bath and left there until they saw the error of their ways.

The shower was the more violent form of hydrotherapy and was used for everything from murderous rages, to fits, to refusal to sleep with one’s husband (but we’ll get to that one in a moment.) There were cold shower rooms where the patient might be locked in and sprayed with water from all directions. The most common method was for the patient to sit in a tub or barrel of cold water whilst a number of attendants ran up and down a ladder on the other side of a screen and doused them with bucket after bucket of water. These sessions might go on for anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours, or at least until the attendants ran out of energy and/or water. All of this was done to force the patient to let go of his or her mad behavior and revert back to what was considered normal, upright, Christian behavior.

Not a bad way to take a shower if it weren’t for the whole not being able to get out of the tub until the mad doctor said so. And the whole entire buckets of cold water being dumped on you one after another technique.

Enter the scene of mad doctoring in 1725, one Patrick Blair. He was firmly ensconced in the mental illness as spiritual failing camp of treating madness. Therefore, his use of water therapy was punitive to the point of torture. Eventually he created his own apparatus consisting of a pump capable of raising 18,000 gallons of water 35 feet and dropping it, in its entirety, onto a patient strapped into a chair. He even added water sprayed into the patient’s face at the same time as extra incentive.

If this doesn’t persuade you to resume your “marital duties,” nothing will.

Blair used this inventive piece of hardware most often to persuade women to return to their marital duties, aka go back to sleeping with their husbands. Yes, this was considered a form of madness no matter how nasty, abusive or sexually unimaginative the husband. His method consisted of stripping the patient naked, strapping her into the chair, blindfolding her, and subjecting her to the constant shower of cold water for thirty minutes to an hour at the time. This was done several times a day for as many days as it took for the woman to be cured of her dislike of her husband. Frankly, after this sort of treatment, most women would agree to go to bed with Jabba the Hut. One can only assume should the woman ever evince a further dislike of her husband, the threat of more of Dr. Blair’s cure would bring her back into line.

Modern psychiatrists, after reading Blair’s own account of this treatment on a number of women, have pronounced it nothing short of a kind of rape performed at the request of a husband to force the wife to take him to her bed. A fair assessment? I’d say so.

Whilst later practitioners in mad hospitals put aside water therapy in its most punitive forms in favor of good nutrition, pleasant environments, and what we call now, occupational therapy; water torture in the same form used by earlier mad doctors found its way into the prison systems. One of these techniques in particular is used today. It’s called waterboarding. Psychiatry has evolved. Mankind, a little less so.




When I was nine years old, my father’s Air Force career took our family to the little village of Kelsale in Suffolk, England. Some of the most magical memories of my childhood are of the three years we lived in this quaint and unique place. It did not take long for my brothers and I to become part of the “gang” of village children who played together every day. It was the 1960’s in a small, rural English village. Which means, our playground was the entire village and we had free run of it so long as we didn’t make too much mischief and were home in time for supper.

Kelsale is an old village. The Guildhall was built in 1495. The pub, the Eight Bells, was built early in the 17th century. The highest point in the village is at the top of Church Street. There stands the 11th century Norman era Church of St. Mary and St. Peter. This church and the surrounding cemetery with its leaning tombstones with ancient dates and inscriptions was the site of many a game of Robin Hood and His Merry Men, King Arthur and His Knights, and any variety of hide and seek you can imagine. And where did all of these adventures begin? Where did we meet to plan a day’s mayhem as only a group of children ages 6 to 11 could do?

At the Lych Gate

Lychgate Church of St. Peter and St. Mary Kelsale, Suffolk, England

Lych is an Anglo Saxon adjectival form for corpse. In addition to lych gate (which can also be spelled lichgate, lycugate, lyke gate or lychgate,) the term is incorporated in other funereal terms from the Middle Ages. The lych bell was a hand bell rung before the corpse as it traveled from the home to the church and possibly from the church to the cemetery, depending on the distance. The lych way was the path along which the corpse was carried to burial. The lych owl was another name for the screech owl because its cry was thought to be a portent of death. And a lyke-wake was a night watch over the corpse.

There were no mortuaries during the Middle Ages. People died at home and were placed on a bier to be taken on their final journey. The first stop on that journey was often the lych gate, where the body might remain until the funeral a few days later. More often than not, attendants or guards remained against body snatchers, no matter what the weather. The corpse bearers carried the body of the deceased under the lych gate at the entrance to the churchyard and placed it on a communal bier. Bodies were buried in shrouds, not caskets. The priest would then perform the first part of the funeral service there.

Lych gates were built at the entrances of churchyards as early as the 7th century. These early lych gates were basically a covered gate built of wood, and very few of these earliest examples have survived in any form. They became more commonly built beginning in the 13th century. They were crafted of older timber construction and traditionally were roofed with wood tiles, clay tiles, or thatch. The large timber beams framing the gateway were often carved with decorative elements. Some had lichstones, large flat stones in the middle of the gate upon which the body might be placed. Many had benches inset into the sides of the gateway to seat the watchers and / or corpse bearers whilst shielding them from the elements.

The oldest surviving lych gate is thought to be the one leading into St. George’s churchyard in the Beckenham area of South London. It has been restored in part, but the roof and much of the structure is over 700 years old.

Lych gate St. George’s in the Beckenham are of South London

A more modern custom, which began during the Victorian era, was the closing of the gates once a wedding began in the church. The children of the village were set as the gatekeepers and the bride and groom had to pay them in order to pass through the gate.

Below are some other examples of this unique and only slightly macabre structure.

St. Wulfran’s Ovingdean
Castle Eaton





Canterbury St. Martin’s

I knew none of the fascinating and tiny bit gruesome history of the lych gate when I was meeting my friends there as a child. Had we known, I am certain we would have spent far more time trying to frighten each other or telling each other ghost stories under the shelter of our childhood meeting place. Countless adventures began and ended at the lych gate over the three years I lived in Kelsale. Which was probably more appropriate than we knew. After all, death is often considered life’s final and most daunting adventure. And for innumerable thousands, the lych gate was the first stop on that journey.



All historical romance authors start out as historical romance readers. At least I hope they do. These same historical romance readers turned authors read, in all likelihood, one book that dragged them into the genre and refused to let them go. For me it was Pride and Prejudice, followed closely by Jane Eyre. No matter what the “gateway” historical romance novel, most, if not all, historical romance addicts dream of traveling to England to see the places they have only imagined when they were reading. For some it is an annual pilgrimage. For others it is a once in a lifetime trip.

Whichever it is, Sonja Rouillard’s charming and informative book is the perfect travel companion. From the brilliant short story featuring Jane Austen’s Emma on a visit to modern London to the Appendices of historical romance novels quoted throughout the guide and suggestions as to romance novels to read whilst on the trip, the book is well-researched, whimsical, extremely informative, and replete with useful ideas, descriptions, and tips to plan and execute a memorable romance reader’s trip to London and several outlying areas featured heavily in historical romance novels.

Whilst the introductory short story is entertaining and endearing, it also gives the traveler a prospective on travel across the ages. With that, the next chapter provides a brilliant set of criteria for the author’s grading of each of the suggested sites to visit. There is some wonderful information about history in general and as it pertains to the reader of historical romance. And there is also some practical travel advice for the romance traveler.

The author has done a fantastic job of picking sites appealing to almost any reader of historical romance set in a variety of eras. And the entries for each site are well-researched and delightfully written. She also grades the sites as to their authenticity to the historical eras in which they most often appear in romance novels. And, of course, she lets the reader know if a site mentioned in a historical era has since disappeared. I found myself reading the entries strictly for the information and entertainment in them. The Then and Now aspects of each site allow the traveler to decide which sites are most appealing to them.

Period maps and a quick list of museums, along with the fees one might be expected to pay is most helpful. And the chapter on staying in period authentic places and dining with historical style, on a winsome scale from “touring like a governess” to “touring with royalty” is amusing and timely. There is a chapter on period activities in which one can participate today that is a stroke of genius.

With numerous photographs, maps, suggested excursions from London to other places mentioned frequently in historical romances, and entertaining and intriguing entries on every page, the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London is the perfect traveling companion for the historical romance reader making a pilgrimage to the land where historical romance was born. With its other worthy qualities, it is also an excellent read. One I intend to add to my research library.


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Written specifically for the 30 million historical romance fans in U.S., the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London offers everything you want to know about the famous London sights in romance novels. In the “Then and Now” chapter (nearly half the book), learn the back-stories of places such as Almack’s, Bedlam, and White’s, and whether they’re still around or can be visited. Hear fascinating anecdotes, like which princesses stayed where or which upstairs maid married up. More than 130 photos and “Then and Now” illustrations show how these places have changed over the centuries. There’s a foreword by NY Times best-selling author Sabrina Jeffries, and romance excerpts by Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and today’s best selling authors (Mary Balogh, Tessa Dare, Elizabeth Hoyt, and more) add delightful flavor to the places described.


The Guide is an entertaining read for the armchair traveler curled up by the fire with a warm cup of tea. But, it’s an essential resource for anyone who wants to experience old-world London first hand. Enjoy an authentic Afternoon Tea in a charming salon or play princess sleeping in a four-poster bed or even a castle! With historical maps, insider tips, and “~for the guys” highlights, the Guide will make it easy for even a rookie traveler to hit all the historic-romance highlights. The Romance Readers Guide to Historic London is your companion to the London of Elizabethan, Georgian, Regency, and Victorian times, whether in the comfort of your own home or on that once-in-a-lifetime trip.


Praise for the Romance Readers Guide:


“Not only does she point out places I have not seen, she has my love for all things romantic at the forefront. … If you are planning a trip to England, LONDON in particular, you should definitely purchase this book and keep it with you every day you are there.”

— Amazon customer review, 5 Stars


Author Biography:

Sonja Rouillard is a successful writer of fiction and non-fiction. Recently, she launched an erotic romance career under the name Kate Allure with two books from Sourcebooks (Playing Doctor and Lawyer Up), receiving high praise: “The sensuality and sexuality are palpable…4 Stars!” & “Escapism of the richest, most decadent variety.” —RT Book Reviews. “Intense chemistry, great characteriza-tion, and a kinky page-singeing ending will have readers clamoring for more.” —Publishers Weekly.

Besides being a huge fan of historical romance, Sonja’s other great love is travel and seeking unusual, off-the-beaten-path experiences. China, Monte Carlo, Bora Bora, Mexico, and Poland are among the many foreign countries she’s visited. Her extensive U.S. travel covers the gamut from exotic Hawaii, to historic Washington, D.C., and the indigenous cultures of six remote Native American reservations. Sonja lives in California with her husband of 26 years, 3 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a Flemish Giant rabbit.


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