When Sophie Weston, Jessica Hart (Pamela Hartshorne), Anne McAllister and I looked around for a setting for our fictional Cotswold village for our Invitation to a Royal Wedding quartet, I immediately thought of Castle Combe – the prettiest village in England. Allegedly. (Other villages are also extremely pretty!)
I’d had lunch at the Manor House Hotel with the Bath and Wiltshire Romantic Novelists’ Association chapter when Jill Mansell gave a talk there.
She’d used the hotel in her book, Daisy’s Place and I knew it would work very well for Hasebury Hall, the childhood home of Hope Kennard, Sophie’s heroine (The Prince’s Bride).
Sophie, Jessica, Anne and I had a day out walking the ground of “our” village on a gloriously sunny spring day and had a wonderful lunch there, purely in the necessity of research, you understand. Research is not all about surfing the ‘net and dusty libraries!
Jessica, who’d been the first out of the traps with a draft ms, had named the church where the wedding was to take place St Philip and All Angels and when we went into the beautiful church in Castle Combe, one of the first things we saw was this array of angels on either side of the aisle.
One of those spine-tingly magic moments for a writer.
We found a suitably ancient monument where our bride’s ancestor would have been laid to rest and imagined a stained glass window bearing his coat of arms,
There was some discussion about the differences between a US wedding and one taking place in the UK – the bridesmaids follow the bride in the UK. The fact that the bride and groom (and their witnesses) disappear into the vestry after the service to sign the register. Details that may not be used but are important to know.
We walked around the churchyard, working out the where the television people would put their cherry picker – my heroine’s concern – and, because that’s what you can do when you’ve created your own location, we turned it around so that the heroine, walking from her family home, would not have to walk all around the graveyard.
There were other important locations. This is the market cross, Ally’s home, and the Three Bells where Ally was working when Fredrik arrived unexpectedly.
Actually the pub isn’t in Castle Combe but in the equally pretty village of Lacock and is the pub where our local Romantic Novelists’ Chapter meet for supper once in a while.
And the last picture refers to something that our village and Castle Combe have in common. They are both used as locations for films and tv dramas.
Castle Combe was recently used in the film War Horse.