I had the privilege of visiting England the last week of February — one of my favorite destinations before the coronavirus situation became a deterrent for travel. I am so grateful! Since I am a historical fiction author, researching the location in person is a real treat, as you can imagine!
The day after I arrived in the UK, and before my week-long intensive Bible course began (the main reason for my visit), my teen friend Mariah and I headed to Bath on a local train to do a bit of research at Sally Lunn’s. During my last visit, I discovered a tidbit of information that led me to write about Sally. More later . . .
The Sally Lunn bun (the size of large hamburger buns, but with the texture of brioche) was excellent — worth risking a reaction to my gluten intolerance. I couldn’t come to Bath without enjoying one! I would describe it as the best hamburger bun you have ever tasted. Hopefully, that’s not offensive to a Brit. Here is a pic of my daughter five years ago when we first experienced this culinary delight. In my story, which I tentatively have titled, “Soli’s Saving Grace,” I bring to light a purely fictional crisis that inspired her to create her bun recipe.
The top of the bun is on the right, and the bottom section is on Olivia’s plate. It is so large, that you must use a knife and fork. Since the bun is as light as a feather, it is no problem to eat both parts in one sitting.
This time, I asked for both. Although the server happily agreed, she seemed a bit perplexed. Evidently, very few people ask for both. Leave it to the Americans to want more! Isn’t this a lovely tearoom? You can feel the history seeping out of the walls.
We finished our lovely meal and headed down to the basement, where a small museum is located. I wanted to revisit the tiny historic exhibition which inspired me five years ago. At that time I found a little sign tacked into a wooden cabinet. It noted Sally Lunn was probably a Huguenot girl named Solange Luyon. That tidbit of information is all I needed to let my imagination run wild! Hopefully, someday, you will read Soli’s story in print.
Next, we visited Bath Abbey, where my character, Soli, flees for refuge. Last time I was in Bath, we were not able to tour it, so I was thrilled when I realized it was possible!
So, my reason for visiting the Abbey, other than enjoying the architectural beauty, was to ask a question: Did the Bath Abbey indeed offer refuge for Huguenots who came knocking (did they?) at their enormously imposing wooden doors?
I found a priest who had time to chat with me. I was surprised to discover he had Huguenot roots himself. Small world! But, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to answer my question. But he did refer me to the archivist who works at the Abbey, and on my way out, I was given a card.
Just what I needed. Now that I have all this time on my hands, due to the #covid-19 crisis, I will email him this week. Who knows what that will uncover!
So, that was my short day trip to Bath for research — quick but productive. If you are interested, here is a link to my blogpost about my trip to Charleston, SC for Huguenot research.
For a more in-depth look at the city of Bath see my blogpost.
I have two questions for you:
Which era of history is the most fascinating to you?
How is the Covid Crisis affecting your writing habits?
I’d love to read your comments below!