Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The London of Sebastian St. Cyr: the Roman Walls

It's actually rather amazing how much of London's old Roman wall still stands today. Here's the same bastion near St. Giles Cripplegate, first in Sebastian's time, then today:

Built largely during the third and fourth centuries, the wall was once two miles long, six to nine feet wide, and about twenty feet high. A number of gates in the old Roman wall--such as Ludgate, Newgaate, Bishopsgate, and Aldgate--are familiar to us because they continued to function as city gates down into medieval times and are now remembered as the names of major roads. Once upon a time, the boundaries of the City of London coincided with the old Roman wall. And even though that changed as the City expanded westward during the medieval period, the walls remained in use for over a thousand years. It was only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that the demolition of the wall began.

Much of what we see today survived because it had been incorporated into later buildings and only became visible after the Luftwaffe carried out their rather drastic urban renewal project during WWII. When the Georgian and Victorian buildings collapsed, the parts formed by the old wall remained standing, and fortunately someone thought to preserve some of those sections.

Unfortunately, much of what is left today lies in a part of London I personally dislike, namely the Barbican, which in my humble opinion is a particularly hideous example of mid-twentieth century architecture and city planning (apologies to anyone who likes it!) It's also difficult to walk around because of the way it's laid out, making it enormously frustrating simply to figure out how to get down to St. Giles Cripplegate. There's a "London Roman Wall Walk" that was laid out years ago, but locked gates now defeat following it very far. Which is a shame, because these ruins are lovely, and most people who visit London only glimpse the less-impressive sections of the Roman wall near the Museum of London and Tower Hill.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The London of Sebastian St. Cyr: Guildhall and St. Paul's, then and now

These "then and now" comparisons are kinda fun. The first is London's Guildhall,  a 15th century great hall still used as the ceremonial center of the City of London.

And this, of course, is St. Paul's Cathedral:

Monday, July 13, 2015

The ebook for WHY KINGS CONFESS is on sale from today until July 25th!

Apple is doing a special promotion for WHY KINGS CONFESS this month. From now until July 25th, you can download the ebook for just $3.99. (I assume this is just in the States, but I honestly don't know for certain.) The link is here.

And because everyone watches their competition and matches prices, it's also now available for $3.99 at Amazon.com here.

For Nook users, the Barnes and Noble link is here.

So if you have a friend who's been wanting to try the series, of if you normally collect hardcovers/mass market and you've been wanting to add the ebooks, here's a chance to get a good deal.

Blogger Issues

My blog is having issues. My template was old and no longer supported and upgrading it is giving me fits. Stand by. All will eventually be fixed.

I keep telling myself this....

UPDATE: Still not finished, but I hope this looks okay to most of you now. The header will eventually be changed to match my new website, which is coming soon.

Or eventually.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Visiting Camlet Moat

Of all the places Danielle and I planned to visit while we were in London, Camlet Moat--the site of so much of When Maidens Mourn--excited me perhaps more than anything else. I couldn't classify going there as research since the book was written long ago. I suppose in a sense it was something of a pilgrimage.

Believe it or not, the Piccadilly Line runs all the way out to Cockfosters, so it is possible to get there on the Tube (it runs above ground once it gets out of London). Then all you need do is turn right after leaving the station, walk up the road a ways, and you're at an entrance to what is now Trent Park.

Once part of Enfield Chase, the vast hunting grounds of Henry IV, Trent Park has been a public park since the 1970s. When I was writing When Maidens Mourn, the great house was used as part of Middlesex University, but that has now closed, with the buildings sold to some Asian outfit that is attracting local ire by allowing the historic structure to fall into disrepair. It was drastically rebuilt in the early 20th century, and this is about all that we could see of it:

But the grounds--320 acres in all--are public, and they are lovely. And huge. Danielle and I walked forever, since Camlet Moat itself is on the far side of the park from Cockfosters.

Much of the park consists of wide open vistas and rolling farmland, but the elevated area around Camlet Moat is wooded and dark and--I don't think I imagined it--decidedly atmospheric. I was afraid I'd be disappointed, but I wasn't. The moat has silted up dreadfully over the years and is choked with algae, but it was actually wider than I expected it to be (at least on three sides). The little land bridge to the isle is still there.

The ground on the isle is very uneven, presumably because whoever filled in the trenches from the various digs didn't do a very good job. Whatever buildings were once there have vanished. The ancient well was likewise destroyed long ago, although I did find a wet depression I thought might be its site.

The pictures don't lie, by the way; that really is the quality of the light.

And then, after a wonderful ramble over hill and dale, we found a lovely tea shop and simply sat.