Since a large section of Last Night’s Scandal is a “road book,” you might want to follow the journey using the same guide Olivia does. Paterson’s Roads lists the coaching roads, distances, and towns en route.
It marks the main coaching stops and the turnpike/toll gates as well as including descriptions of notable houses and sights along the way. It’s fascinating (at least to Nerdy History Girls & Boys), but not easy to follow.
What with alternative routes and cross roads, etc., not to mention changes in Royal Mail routes, it wanted a lot of thumbing back and forth to plot out the route from London to Edinburgh at the time of my story. Then I had to time the journey by coordinating with info from another book, because Paterson’s doesn’t list the mail coach arrival and departure times. I used the Royal Mail schedule as a rough way of calculating how long it would take Olivia’s carriage to get from one place to the next, depending on how much of a hurry she was in. I ended up making a spreadsheet to keep things straight.
(You will easily imagine my feelings when a copy editor questioned my timing, and thought my characters ought to be traveling at the pace of 50 years earlier (!!!!)—long before the roads were macadamized. But I digress, as Authors often will when the subject of copy edits arises.)
Here’s St. Leonard’s, aka the Shoreditch Church, from which the distance from London was measured. Getting out of London in those days was very much like getting out of any large city today. The difference was, one hadn’t as far to go. The urban sprawl hadn’t yet sprawled even as far as the Regent’s Canal. At right is an early map of the tollgates around town.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.