Monday, January 28, 2013

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - HMS Victory

 Cassie's Regency Tidbits.
Back in 2010 I visited the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. What a wonderful place! There is so much to see and do. We started off with a wonderful cruise around the dockyards taking in all the modern naval ships that were in for maintenance as well as commercial liners who had stopped off for re-fueling or a day trip.

Spinnaker Tower - the Centrepiece of Portsmouth Harbour

Portsmouth was, in the early days the south's best natural shelter and a key spot for trading by Britons, Romans, Saxons and Normans. They all used portsea island as a gathering place for their armies. As a result stores and warehouses and workshops appeared to supply and maintain the King's ships.

In 1194 Richard 1 granted the town its first charter and ordered a dock to be built. King John later (in 1212) ordered a wall be built around the new dockyard.

The historic dockyard is home to the Mary Rose - The flower of all ships. The HMS Warrior - The Black Snake and the HMS Victory - The world's greatest warship.

It it the Victory I'm going to concentrate on today. It is most famous for its involvement in the Battle of Trafalgar and having been commanded by the legendary Horatio Nelson.

The spot where Nelson fell is clearly marked by this plaque on the quarter-deck
In 1803 the Victory set sail from Portsmouth all decked out in the resplendent black and yellow. For 18 months Nelson chased the French, all the way to the West Indies and back, before meeting up with the Franco-Spanish fleet in the Mediterranean. Then, in 1805 on Cape Trafalgar off the coast of Spain the Victory led the British fleet into a sea battle that would go down as one of the greatest in history and make Nelson a household name. Unfortunately for Nelson he was mortally wounded in the same battle by a marksman on the Temeraire.

The galleries at the stern: Captain Hardy's at the top, Lord Nelson's in the middle, and the officer's wardroom at the bottom.

The victory was towed to Gibraltar for repairs, then limped back to England with Nelson's body preserved in a barrel of brandy in preparation for a hero's funeral.

low ceilings lead through main part of ship
firearms ready

The actual inside of the Victory is a mix of cramped and opulence. However, it is evident just how much work went into making sure every bit of space was used to its best advantage.

Also at the Portsmouth Dockyards is the sail with a huge cannon hole in it from the battle of Trafalgar. The display shows how massive the sails on a ship like the Victory are. Well worth a look.

I was surprised at how opulent the galleries at the back of the ship were. Nelson certainly wasn't slumming it.

officers wardroom
captain Hardy's room
Nelson's room

Besides the Victory, you can go on the Warrior and there is an amazing display with part of the preserved hull of the Mary Rose. The things that they were able to salvage from her were absolutely amazing.

Nelson's uniform

Sailors sleeping hammocks
Me at the end of a wonderful day.
You need a whole day to really appreciate this truly amazing place.

Sources: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard website:
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Souvenir Guide book.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

HH Good News & Cover Love

Again our fantastically talented HH members
have some wonderful news to share.
This month we have lots of deliciously beautiful
new covers as well.
So without further ado we congratulate...
Allison Butler has her cover for her February 10 release
The Border Laird's Bride
available from Destiny Romance
To fulfil his father's dying wish, border laird Jamie Graham must marry and sire a legitimate heir. But his marriage will be one of convenience, for he has vowed never to open his heart for betrayal. While guarding his cattle from thieves, Jamie catches the spirited daughter of a neighbouring laird stealing his horse.
Despite viewing an arranged marriage as a death sentence, feisty Kenzie Irvine has no choice but to wed the domineering laird. But she has sworn an oath never to bring a child into an uncaring world...
Suzi Love has her cover for her February 18 release
Embracing Scandal
available from Crimson Romance

After Lady Rebecca Jamison, a mathematical genius, saves her family from financial ruin by secretly investing in railway stocks on the London stock exchange, a greedy syndicate, desperate for Becca’s calculations and predictions, murders her friend and threatens the Jamison family, forcing Becca to beg assistance from her childhood friend, Cayle St. Martin.
The newly titled Duke of Sherwyn has returned to London after five years on the continent extending his family’s shipping interests. He’s shunned his privileged London life and his father’s unbending attitudes, and becomes committed to employing the spying tactics he learned on the continent to help Becca indict the syndicate—and using his skills as a lover to seduce her into his bed.
But how will Cayle be able to convince Becca, a determinedly self-sufficient spinster, that he can be more to her than just a protector? 

Bronwyn Stuart has her cover for her upcoming release
Behind the Courtesan
available from Carina Press

Erin Grace is celebrating the rerelease & new cover for
Fire of My Heart
available soon from Noble Romance Publishing


Cassandra Samuels has done it again!!
This time Cass has finaled in the
RWAust Selling Synopsis competition
Congrats Cass! Fantastic achievement!

Congratulations everyone!
And until next month happy reading.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013



The 30th January marks the anniversary of the execution of Charles I in 1649.

I am reputedly descended from Sir Michael Livesey, one of the regicides. Family researches have not been able to establish the truth of this assertion but it makes a good story.( I have written about Sir Michael in this Hoydens and Firebrands post)

The trial of a King for treason was unprecedented and the public execution of a monarch was unthinkable and yet it happened, to be repeated in France 150 years later.

The King's death warrant 

Despite his challenge to the authority of the Commission that was set up to try him, he was found  guilty of the crimes levelled against him and  sentenced to die by the axe. (For an account on the gruesome revenge exacted on the regicides by Charles II, see my post HERE)

The execution was scheduled for the morning of January 30 and a scaffold was set up outside the Inigo Jones designed dining chamber of Whitehall Palace (the only part of the old palace that still survives today).

The Commissioners deliberating the execution of the King

On the day of his execution, Charles was allowed one final meeting with his children Prince Henry and Princess Elizabeth who were the only members of his family still in England. Both children continued to be held hostage by the victors. Princess Elizabeth did not live to see the restoration of their brother and Prince Henry died at the age of 20 from smallpox shortly after the Restoration.

What follows is an eyewitness account of the execution (for the full text click HERE) - the spelling is original

“About ten in the morning the King was brought from St. James's, walking on foot through the park, with a regiment of foot, part before and part behind him, with colours flying, drums beating, his private guard of partizans with some of his gentlemen before and some behind bareheaded, Dr. Juxon next behind him and Col. Thomlinson (who had the charge of him) talking with the King bareheaded, from the Park up the stairs into the gallery and so into the cabinet chamber where he used to lie.
The Banqueting Hall at Whitehall

... Where he continued at his devotion, refusing to dine, (having before taken the Sacrament) only about an hour before he came forth, he drank a glass of claret wine and eat a piece of bread about twelve at noon. From thence he was accompanied by Dr. Juxon, Col. Thomlinson and other officers formerly appointed to attend him and the private guard of partizans, with musketeers on each side, through the Banqueting house adjoining to which the scaffold was erected between Whitehall Gate and the Gate leading into the gallery from St. James's. The scaffold was hung round with black and the floor covered with black and the Ax and block laid in the middle of the scaffold. There were divers companies of food, and troops of horse placed on the one side of the scaffold towards Kings Street and on the other side towards Charing Cross, and the multitudes of people that came to be spectators, very great. The King being come upon the scaffold, look'd very earnestly upon the block and ask'd Col. Hacker if there were no higher. And then spake thus, directing his speech chiefly to Col. Thomlinson...

(Full text of speech omitted)
...Then turning to the officers, said, "Sirs, excuse me for this same, I have a good cause and I have a gracious God. I will say no more."
Then turning to Colonel Hacker, he said, "take care that they do not put me to pain. And Sir, this, an it please you---" But then a gentleman coming near the Ax, the King said "Take heed of the Ax. Pray take heed of the Ax."

Then the King, speaking to the Executioner said "I shall say but very short prayers, and when I thrust out my hands—"

Then the King called to Dr. Juxon for his night-cap, and having put it on said to the executioner "Does my hair trouble you?" Who desired him to put it all under his cap. Which the King did accordingly, by the help of the executioner and the bishop.

Then the King turning to Dr. Juxom said, "I have a good cause, and a gracious GOD on my side." Dr. Juxon: There is but one stage more. This stage is turbulent and troublesome; it is a short one. But you may consider, it will soon carry you a very great way. It will carry you from Earth to Heaven. And there you shall find a great deal of cordial joy and comfort.

King: I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.

Doctor Juxon: You are exchanged from a temporal to an eternal crown, a good exchange.
The King then said to the Executioner, "Is my hair well?"

Then the King took off his cloak and his George, giving his George to Dr. Juxon, saying, "Remember—." (It is thought for to give it to the Prince.)

Then the King put off his dublet and being in his wastcoat, put his cloak on again. Then looking upon the block, said to the Executioner "You must set it fast." Executioner: It is fast, Sir. King: It might have been a little higher. Executioner: It can be no higher, Sir. King: When I put out my hands this way (Stretching them out) then— After having said two or three words, as he stood, to himself with hands and eyes lift up.

Immediately stooping down laid his neck on the block And then the executioner again putting his hair under his cap, the King said, "Stay for the sign." (Thinking he had been going to strike)

Executioner: Yes, I will, an it please your Majesty.

And after a very little pause, the King stretching forth his hands, the executioner at one blow severed his head from his body. When the Kings head was cut off, the executioner held it up and shewed it to the spectators. And his body was put in a coffin covered with black velvet for that purpose. The Kings body now lies in his lodging chamber at Whitehall.

This image is said to be a contemporary portrayal of the execution (from a decidedly royalist point of view...the King is pictured on the left and his executioner on the right. The executioner bears a strong resemblance to Thomas Fairfax - who took no part in the trial and execution of the King. A woman faints and others run forward to dip cloth in the 'martyred' king's blood.

Another eye witness recounts that at the moment of the stroke "Such a groan as I never heard before, and desire I may never hear again".

The scene was quickly cleared but not before many of the spectators had rushed forward to dip handkerchiefs in the blood. "King Charles the Martyr" had been created and in old books of Common Prayer you find a service dedicated to King Charles the Martyr to be said on January 30th.

The King's head was reattached to his body, the body embalmed and conveyed to Windsor where he was laid to rest in the vault containing Henry VIII and his wife Jane Seymour. Space had been left for the body of Katherine Parr but as she had remarried and was interred at Sudeley, it left room for King Charles.

News of his father's death did not reach his son, now Charles II,  until February 5. His advisors debated how to tell the young King and in the end his chaplain, Stephen Goffe, was given the task. He entered Charles' room, hesitated, went down on one knee and addressed him as "Your Majesty." Fully understanding the import of those two words, Charles  left the room in tears.

Several books have been devoted to the trial and execution of Charles I and I recommend in particular: CV Wedgwood THE TRIAL OF CHARLES I and the more recent book about the prosecution of the trial by Geoffrey Robertson THE TYRANNICIDE BRIEF. Another interesting book is Jordan and Walsh's book on the fate of the regicides and those who prosecuted him - THE KING'S REVENGE.

For a visual, nothing goes past the incomparable Alec Guiness’ portrayal of the quiet dignity of a man going to his death in the 1970 film CROMWELL.

HISTORIC ROYAL PALACES are currently mounting an exhibition actually in the Banqueting House at Whitehall on the execution of Charles I.  For more information click HERE

Alison Stuart's next book, SECRETS IN TIME, with a gorgeous 17th century cavalier and a thoroughly modern doctor, is out on April 1

Monday, January 7, 2013

History of Opium and Tincture of Laudanum

History of Opium and Tincture of Laudanum 

by Suzi Love.

Opium has a long history of use, spread across many countries.

 Long before China supplied the West with opium, Turkey was providing coffee, tulips, and opium, which is said to have been used for recreational purposes from the 14th century onwards in Muslim societies. 

Opium eaters were said to gain ecstasy, bliss and voluptuousness, and soldiers to gain courage.
Opium poppies
Raw Opium

From the 16th to the 19th centuries, travelers, diplomats, historians, and religious scholars reported that Anatolian opium was eaten in Constantinople and throughout the Ottoman Empire as much as it was exported to Europe.

The Opium Seller (W. Müller) via Wikipedia
Opium Den China via Wikimedia 

In China, opium smoking increased after a Ming emperor banned tobacco smoking.

 By contrast, the Qing dynasty encouraged tobacco smokers to mix in increasing amounts of opium. Tobacco mixed with opium was called madak, or madat, and in the 17th century became popular throughout China and its seafaring trade partners eg Taiwan, Java, and the Philippines.

In 1729, a ban on madak  increased the popularity of smoking pure opium through complicated procedures such as melting opium at the right temperature over the flame of an oil lamp and feeding it via a clay bowl and a bamboo pipe. Paste-scooping, where a globule of opium was scooped up with a needle-like skewer for smoking, was done by servant girls who were also available as prostitutes if needed. People used opium for the 'art of sex' e.g. to "arrest seminal emission".

Opium smoking began in China as a privilege of the elite and remained a great luxury into the early 19th century, but rich peasants also started using opium and even a small village without a rice store would have a shop where opium was sold. In the 19th-century, China's famine, political upheaval, and opportunities for gaining wealth in other countries saw Chinese emigrants moving to San Francisco, London, and New York where they started Chinese traditions of smoking in opium dens.

Opium dens kept a supply of opium paraphernalia, such as the specialized pipes and lamps needed for smoking the drug. 

Patrons reclined to hold long opium pipes over oil lamps that heated the drug until it vaporized, allowing the smoker to inhale the vapors.

French Opium Den via Wikimedia 

There are many old photographs of opium smokers 
in the United States, Canada and France, 
yet none of opium smokers in London. 

Drawing of opium smokers in an opium den in Lo...
Drawing of opium smokers in an opium den in London based on fictional accounts of the day                            (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The London press, along with popular British authors of the day, portrayed London's Limehouse district as an opium-drenched pit of danger and mystery. 

1902 Photograph of opium eaters.
 In fact, London's Chinese population never exceeded the low hundreds, in large contrast to the tens of thousands of Chinese who settled in North American Chinatowns.

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) is the autobiographical account of Thomas De Quincey's  laudanum  (opium and alcohol ) addiction and its effect on his life.

Confessions was DeQuincy's  first major published work and won him overnight fame. He wrote, 'I question whether any Turk, of all that ever entered the paradise of opium-eaters, can have had half the pleasure I had.'
Thomas De Quincey from Modern English Books of...
Thomas De Quincey from Modern English Books of Power, by George Hamlin Fitch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First published anonymously in September and October 1821 in the London Magazine,                 the Confessions was released in book form in 1822, and again in 1856, in an edition revised by De Quincey.

During the 18th century and well into the 19th century, opium, as Tincture of Laudanum, was used as a remedy for nervous disorders and, because of its sedative and tranquilizing properties, added to many patent medicines.

It stopped irritation, helped patients sleep, stopped excessive secretions, and relieved pain, so it is no wonder users labeled opium 'God's Own Medicine'. US president William Henry Harrison was treated with opium in 1841, and in the American Civil War, the Union Army used 2.8 million ounces of opium tincture and powder and about 500,000 opium pills.

Literary references to opium smoking in London -
Sherlock Holmes in "The Man with the Twis...
Sherlock Holmes in "The Man with the Twisted Lip". Original caption was "The pipe was still between his lips." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Suzi Love is the author of The Viscount's Pleasure House from Crimson Romance
Available at  - Amazon  -  B&N  -  iTunes
Or read a blurb at Goodreads

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, January 5, 2013

HH Good News

We're celebrating some wonderful news this month
with our HH members.
So, without further ado, we congratulate...


Allison Butler has sold her FIRST
Scottish highlander romance novel to
Penguin's - Destiny Romance!!!
Look out in the coming months for Allison's
HOT HOT HOT Hunky Highlanders!!!

Janet Woods has received an offer from Magna (UK)
for the large print rights to her novel
Benedict's Bride.
Janet Woods also has some wonderful cover love to share.
The third book in the 'Tall Poppies/Secrets and Lies' trilogy
I'll Get By
will be available February from Severn House.

Meggie Elliot is a young woman of above average intelligence, and on the brink of adulthood. Living with her aunt and uncle in London at the outbreak of WW2 she’s intent on going to university, then pursuing a career in law. She is encouraged in this by her solicitor – a man she admires a little too much. Too old for her, he lets her know it.

Meggie follows her dream as best she can. In a burst of patriotism she joins the WRNS to do her bit for the war. Sent to work in a decoding unit she meets the dangerously exciting young aristocrat, Nicholas Cowan, who sweeps her off her feet.
Vonnie Hughes celebrated her latest release
with Musa Publishing avail November 2012.

When Alexandra Tallis sets free the attractive man her sister foolishly tried to hold captive, her actions lead not only to a love she never thought to find, but also to a horrific family secret that threatens the fledgling love.

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father for her actions, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie even though she knows that nothing will ever come of her dreams.

Injured and shackled in a stranger’s attic, Theo unexpectedly discovers the woman of his dreams. But how can he pursue those dreams when her bizarre family’s complex relationships threaten the very foundation of his existence? Somehow Theo must find a way through this maze to claim his lady.

Christina Phillips celebrated her latest release
with Berkley avail December 2012.

Between an angel and a desperate woman comes salvation—and a raw passion that challenges them at every turn…

When Aurora Robinson attempts to open a rift between dimensions to embrace her true heritage, an arrogant archangel is the only one who can save her from the jaws of hell. And while she owes Gabriel her life, she’s determined not to fall at his feet—despite the desire she feels whenever they’re together.

After his wings were brutally destroyed millennia ago, Gabriel has no compassion for humans like those who ruined him and betrayed the ones he loved. But when he inexplicably finds himself defying ancient protocols to rescue a woman from a fate worse than death, he is shocked by the searing attraction he feels for a mortal.

As the ancient forces that seek to punish Aurora for her actions close in, Gabriel offers the tempting woman protection at his private sanctuary. But as they both succumb to their desires, they discover an even deeper connection—one that threatens to consume them.

Maggi Andersen celebrated her latest release
with Knox Robinson Publishing avail December 2012.

Left penniless after the deaths of her artist father and suffragette mother, Vanessa Ashley draws on her knowledge of art, politics and history to gain employment as a governess. She discovers that Julian, Lord Falconbridge, requires a governess for his ten-year-old daughter Blyth at Falconbridge Hall, a huge rambling mansion in the countryside outside London.
Lord Falconbridge is a scientist and dedicated lepidopterist who is about to embark on an extended expedition to the Amazon in search of exotic butterflies. An enigmatic man, he takes a keen interest in his daughter’s education, but Vanessa feels that he may disapprove of her modern methods.
As she prepares her young charge to enter into the modern world, Vanessa finds the girl detached and aloof. As Vanessa learns more about Falconbridge Hall, more questions arise. Why doesn’t Blythe feel safe in her own home? Why is the death of her mother, once famed society beauty Clara, never spoken of? And why did the former governess leave so suddenly without giving notice?
Suzi Love celebrated her latest release
with Crimson Romance avail December 2012.

Lady Chrissie Wellsby and her two country friends research dozens of rogues before selecting the notorious Viscount Hawkesbury, owner of London’s most exclusive and expensive brothel, to educate them in erotic seduction. The ladies abandon respectability and coerce Justin Tremayne into letting them visit The Pleasure House and to teaching them the sensual tricks mistresses and prostitutes use to entertain men.
Though Justin believes three naive ladies will see the debauched romps in his themed rooms, cover their eyes and ears, and run back to their sheltered lives, he underestimates the desperation of abandoned women who imagine a wider knowledge of sex will keep the men in their lives at home, in their own beds. But despite watching several of their friends, men and women, perform raunchy acts at his brothel, the ladies insist on participating in the last of Justin’s infamous Sultan’s galas, held in numerous silk tents and outdoor bathing areas on his estate.
Justin concedes to Chrissie’s demands only to gain information about his long-lost mother and sisters, but the world-weary viscount falls head over heels in love with his emotionally bruised pupil. He yearns for a wife, children, and an uncomplicated wife, but can he convinced Chrissie to take a chance and marry again? Because Justin never wants to leave her bed.
Erin Grace celebrated her latest release
with Knox Robinson Publishing avail December 2012.

1849, England

Nearly a year since her father died during the London Cholera epidemic, Lily Bowden finds herself in a tiny village in Kent, trapped in a life of unpaid servitude. Along with her mother and younger sister, she relies upon the fragile goodwill of her minister uncle and his overbearing wife.

After suffering injuries during a battle in India, Gabriel Holsworthy returns to England, only to find himself languishing in a military hospital in Chelsea. As a second son, he’d gained little favour with a demanding father and is reluctant to go when he is summoned home to Etford Park. Gabriel must accept his brother’s tragic death...but it’s the ghosts of his own past that haunt him.

With Christmas approaching, Lily finds it impossible to be joyful, especially as her poor sister slips into a deep melancholy over their late father. Lily no longer believes in the goodness of others, the Christmas Spirit ...or the chance of finding love.

For Gabriel, he is adamant never to risk his heart again. When he meets Lily, he is stunned by the spark of passion ignited within, but determined to extinguish it before it grows. No unruly slip of a girl will turn his head...or touch his soul. He will be as bitter as his cold as the first Christmas snow.

In the season of healing and forgiveness, will Christmas bring sorrow for Lily and Gabriel, or will Christmas bring them love, the greatest gift of all?
Nicole Hurley-Moore celebrated the release of
with Pink Petal Books avail December 2012.

Lord Barric Cranley wants Lady Ellette for his wife but she has already refused once. He knows that Ellette loves him… it’s just she hasn’t realized it yet. With a little help, cunning and the Feast of Misrule, Barric plans to capture his bride and make it a Christmas she’ll never forget.
Tamara Gill celebrated the release of
her FIRST Indie published novella avail December 2012


Chloe, beautiful and privileged daughter of a powerful god, literally has the world at her feet. Until she falls in love with a Scottish druid. Her enraged father sentences her to an endless cycle of birth and death; each life spent yearning for a man she no longer knows or remembers.

Scottish druid, Cian McKay searches the world for his long lost love, only to have her appear at the local pub in his highland hometown. Cian must win Chloe's heart again but without the ability to tell her who she is.

Back in the place where she first loved Cian and fell from grace, Chloe's memory haunts her with images that could not possibly be true. She must find the truth and the only way is a confrontation with the Deity who banished her a thousand years before - her father, Zeus.

Annie Seaton celebrated the release of
her FIRST Indie published novellas avail December 2012.

Sexy heroine seeks captain for time-traveling submarine.

Indigo de Vargas is determined to exhibit her products at the Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace. Her opponents have thwarted her preparation at every turn. Her only hope is the brooding captain who appears on her doorstep in the midst of a fierce snowstorm offering to navigate her submarine to the Amazon so she can collect the passionflowers for her pharmacologicals and cosmecuticals.

Steam powers more than the submarine on this voyage. Sparks flying between Indigo and her captain may ignite a passion neither can avoid. Ably assisted by quirky servants, brass goggles and inappropriate accoutrements, they must fight those out to foil her mission.


Sofia de Vargas’ research into the Alpine Moon flower and its elixir of immortality will threaten the very existence of an ancient Scottish order. Dougal, the Earl of Rothmore must prove his loyalty to his masters, the Knights Templar, and bring her body back to Kilmarnock.
Sofia is kidnapped and imprisoned on the isolated Isle of Rothmore. Is Dougal her sworn enemy...or her saviour?

Our very talented member Cassandra Samuels
placed FIRST in the
Marylands Writers' Association Novel contest
Great Beginnings in the historical section.
You can view her winning entry here.
Alison Stuart has her lovely cover for her April release
Secrets in Time
available from Lyrical Press.
Congratulations everyone!
And may 2013 bring great news for us all!