09/10/15

Thursday Thought: Once a Priory, now a Grand House

Port Eliot

Port Eliot

Edward Eliot, my protagonist in The Miner & the Viscount, inherited the great estate of Port Eliot, near St. Germans in Cornwall. This is one wing of the house, with the imposing main entrance wing to the right. The wing at the left at one point housed servants but now is where the estate offices are located.

 Here the Earl of St. Germans, the present owner, is showing me around the house.
Art collection

Art collection

He is enormously knowledgeable about the accomplishments of his famous ancestors. There is a fabulous collection of paintings, including 14 by the great English portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Chapter 57 in The Miner & the Viscount tells the delightful story of a visit by Reynolds to his friends the Eliots, who were among his earliest patrons. Reynolds and Edward Eliot tell stories of their travels, Edward’s still youthful mother flirts with the artist charmingly, and Edward’s wife Catherine does her best to pry from Reynolds the secrets of his technique and his earnings.
St. Germanus Church

St. Germanus Church

To the right of the house was the church of St. Germanus, once the cathedral of Cornwall. Port Eliot was originally a priory until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and sold it to a layman supporter. It was eventually bought by the Eliot family, who over the centuries improved it for family use.

Round Room

Round Room

  This is part of the spectacular 40 foot diameter Round Room at Port Eliot. It was designed by Sir John Soane the great 18th century architect and interior designer. The contemporary “Riddle Mural” was painted over several years by Robert Lenkiewicz from nearby Plymouth, but not finished when he died.
07/12/14

Who’s Who in The Miner & the Viscount?

One of the joys and, indeed, challenges of writing an historical novel is creating fictional characters and integrating them with real people from the time of the book’s events.  Interweaving real people with fictional persons helps enliven a bygone era and engage the reader in a way a dry, historical account might not.

I have my own favorite characters in The Miner & the Viscount; I wonder who yours might be.

Here is the cast of characters — the imagined and the long dead — which you can also find in the front pages of the book.

The Historic Characters

ELIOT FAMILY, of Port Eliot

Edward Eliot (1727-1804), created first Baron Eliot 1784

Catherine Elliston Eliot (1735-1804) his wife;

Edward James Eliot (1758-1797) their eldest surviving son;

John Eliot (1761-1823) their second son, first Earl of St. Germans;

William Eliot (1767-1845) their third son, second Earl of St. Germans;

John Eliot (1742-1769) younger brother of Edward Eliot

 PITT FAMILY, of Boconnoc

Thomas “Diamond” Pitt (1653-1726) East India merchant, Governor of Madras;

Robert Pitt (1680-1727) his eldest son, married Harriet Villiers (c.1680-1736);

Thomas Pitt, (1705-1761) elder son of Robert, former Lord Warden of the Stannaries, married Lucy Lyttelton;

William Pitt, the Elder (1708-1778) second son of Robert, married Lady Hester Grenville (1720-1803);

William Pitt, the Younger (1759-1806) second son of William Pitt the Elder;

Harriot Pitt (c. 1758-1786) younger daughter of William Pitt the Elder;  

Other Characters of Note:

Ralph Allen (1693-1764) Postmaster of Bath, entrepreneur;

Thomas Bolitho, merchant, investor, man of business;

Frances Boscawen (?-1805) widow of Admiral Edmund Boscawen, member of Blue Stockings Society;

Hannah More, intellectual, educator, member of Blue Stockings Society;

St. Piran (c. 6th century) patron saint of Cornwall and of tin miners;

Joshua Reynolds, portraitist, patronized by Eliots;

John Smeaton, inventor, first civil engineer, Fellow of the Royal Society;

Philip Stanhope, illegitimate son of Earl of Chesterfield, MP for Liskeard and later St. Germans, diplomat;

Reverend John Wesley, founder of Methodism;

John Williams, captain of Poldice Mine;

James Davis, Mayor of Liskeard;

Edwin Ough,Town Clerk of Liskeard;

Stephen Clogg, Councilman of Liskeard;

Thomas Peeke, turnpike witness

The Fictional Characters

PENWARDEN FAMILY

Addis, a tin miner in the Poldice mine; mine captain at Wheal Hykka; Lizzie, wife of Addis;

Jedson, a tin miner and younger brother of Addis;

Jeremiah (Jemmy), his firstborn son;

Jedson, second son;

Jennifer, his infant daughter

TRENANCE FAMILY, of Lanhydrock

Baron Trenance

Sir James Trenance, his son; becomes Baron Trenance upon the death of his father; later acquires title of Viscount Dunbargan

Lady Elianor, his wife

Honorable James Trenance, their son;

Honorable Gwenifer Trenance, their daughter;

Willy Bunt, valet and footman at Lanhydrock , then worker at Port Eliot;

Mary Bunt, née Abbott, Willy Bunt’s wife and former maid at Lanhydrock;

Catherine Bunt, their daughter, goddaughter to Catherine Eliot;

Charles Bunt, their son, godson to Charles Polkinghorne;

Joseph Clymo, steward of Lanhydrock estate;

Morwenna Clymo, his daughter

Tom Kegwyn, member of a mining family, ringleader at Wheal Hykka;

Reverend Peter Perry, Perranporth, Methodist minister;

Charles Polkinghorne, man of business for Port Eliot estate.