North West Libraries is running a programme called Time To Read and as part of a drive designed to get people fired up about books and libraries, they have a promotion titled Pure Passion. It's designed to showcase the breadth and depth of the best examples of Romantic Fiction and a selection of titles has been shortlisted for a public vote. The Scarlet Lion is one of the shortlisted titles and represents the scope of historical fiction. If anyone feels they want to vote for The Scarlet Lion (pretty please, grovel, grovel) then they can do so here: It's number 18 on the voting form http://tinyurl.com/2huj8z
Anyway, so that this blog is not a piece of shameless self promotion, let me go on to say that as part of the programme, North West libraries has been holding a series of author visits and events for the region. Last month I was asked to give a talk about The Scarlet Lion at Bramall Hall just outside Stockport. I do come from that neck of the woods originally, but I left when I was very young, so I had no inkling that this wonderful place existed. http://tinyurl.com/22euyw
The hall itself dates back to the 14th Century, but the main effect is Tudor. It's a stunning building both from the outside as you can see here and the interior (below)
I gave my talk in the Great Hall, with the audience seated in the body of the hall and me standing in the fireplace! To the right of where I was standing, the original 13thC hall door is still in situ and it reminded me very much of William Marshal's doors at Chepstow on a smaller scale. (not in photo)
Upstairs, there was a fabulous chamber (now known as The Ballroom) covered in detailed wall paintings from the 15thC. My camera was playing up and no photographs were allowed anyway, but here is a picture from the guidebook. It doesn't do the room justice at all. The colours were far more vigorous than this. What you see as a dingy dun colour on the walls in this photo is actually a melange of rich autumnal colours and textures, including red and green. There were hunting scenes, mythical scenes, and a vignette of a man and woman at courtly play, the man with a lute and the woman graciously listening. It truly is stunning and a work of national importance.
In another room there was a display of a magnificent hand embroidered 'table carpet' dating to the Tudor period and worked with a design of poppies.
There is also a fabulous chapel which has decorations from several different eras, including the earlier medieval period.
If you are in the area do go and look around. It's now owned by the council and you'll have to check when it's open to the public, although I understand that the grounds (70 acres) are open on a general basis. It's a gem of a place.