Cragside ~ Shine Like the Dawn’s Morningside Manor

Hi Friends, 

Early in my research for Shine Like the Dawn, I was looking for an English estate that would give me an inspiring setting for the story. A photographer who had taken the photo of Tyntesfield that was used on the cover of  The Governess of Highland Hall and A Refuge at Highland Hall suggested I might like to investigate Cragside. I did a Google search to see what I could discover about this estate and the family who built it. The more I learned about Cragside, the more it captured my imagination! 

Cragside House, with its beautiful gardens and woodlands, is situated near Rothbury, in Northumberland,  England, not far from the border with Scotland. It was the family home of Lord William Armstrong, Victorian inventor and industrialist. Cragside was the first building in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, and a walk around the property reveals a wealth of ingenious inventions including fire alarm buttons, telephones, a passenger lift, and a Turkish bath suite.

Armstrong was a landscape genius, and he constructed five lakes and planted over seven million trees and shrubs.  Built on a rocky crag high above Debdon Burn (river), the estate has more than 30 miles of footpaths and one of Europe’s largest rock gardens sloping down the valley to the Debdon Burn. The Iron Bridge, one of the oldest of its type in the UK, crosses the burn. Cragside’s garden is breathtaking, whatever the season, but especially in the spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas bloom. 

Today this magnificent estate is owned by the National Trust and can be explored on foot or by car. Visitors will love the tall trees, tumbling streams, and beautiful flowers. Visit the National Trust website for more information.

The mysterious house with it’s jumbled rooms and unique inventions provided the perfect setting for Shine Like the Dawn. A few of the events in the story are taken from events I read about in the biography of William Armstrong, but most come from my imagination. However, the lovely house, beautiful gardens, and quirky inventions are real and were fun to include.

If you’re ever in Northumberland, I hope you’ll stop by Cragside for a visit. Be sure to take lots of photos and share them with me! Until then, take a look at my Cragside Pinterest board and watch this video tour of Cragside Gardens below. Oh, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Shine Like the Dawn so you can read how I wove these details about Cragside into the story! It releases February 21, so there’s not too much longer to wait!

Blessings and happy reading!

Carrie

 

Discovering the Setting for The Governess of Highland Hall

Early in 2012 when I started working on ideas for The Governess of Highland Hall, I wanted to find an English country estate for my setting. I am a visual person, and finding images for my characters and setting brings the story to life for me. I loved visiting Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed, and I wanted to find an estate that gave a similar impression but was unique. After a short search online, I discovered Tyntesfield, and I was delighted when I followed several more links to other images and articles. It was the perfect inspiration for the Ramsey family’s Highland Hall.

The marble fireplace in the great hall at Tyntesfield

The marble fireplace in the great hall at Tyntesfield

Tyntesfield is a beautiful Victorian Gothic Revival house and estate near Wraxall, North Somerset, England. The house is a Grade I listed building and now is owned by the National Trust of England.

The house is named after the Tynte baronets, who had owned estates in the area since about 1500. The location was formerly a 16th-century hunting lodge, which was used as a farmhouse until the early 19th century. In the 1830s a Georgian mansion was built on the site, and it was bought by William Gibbs, an English businessman, who made his fortune by importing guano (bird droppings) from South America that was used to make fertilizer. Gibbs became the wealthest non-noble in England for a time. Gibbs had a beautiful chapel added in the 1870s. The Gibbs family owned the house until the death of Richard Gibbs in 2001.

The great hall and gallery above

The great hall and gallery above

Tyntesfield was acquired by the National Trust in June 2002 after a fundraising campaign to prevent it being sold to private interests and to ensure it would be open to the public. The house was opened to visitors for the first time just 10 weeks after the acquisition, and over 189,000 people visited Tynestesfield in 2012. I hope to visit Tyntesfield in person next spring.

Several of the scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall are set in the great hall, the gallery, and the nursery. So I thought you would like a peek at those areas of the house.

Julia, Andrew, and Millie spend a lot of time in the nursery.

Julia, Andrew, and Millie spend a lot of time in the nursery.

What do you think it would be like to live in a house like this?

Would you like a sneak peek at the first chapter?

Still eager for more? Here is my Pinterest board with lots more photos.

Carrie