A, My Name Is – Hang on a second

Don’t know if you are familiar with that game referenced in the title. My husband and I played it frequently with our children when they were young and impatient and we had to wait somewhere. Or drive somewhere. Each person took a turn at the next letter in the alphabet, stated their name, their spouse’s name, where they came from and what product they sold. I think in the original version, you had to recite all the stuff before your turn to get to add to it. We played a simpler version.

Today, being Day Two of NaNoWriMo, I zipped along in my story, trying not to look at my word count too often, and bam! I needed a name for a manor house. I fired up Google, and searched. Somewhere I had encountered a Manor House Generator, much like the Regency Name Generator I often use, but I failed to bookmark it, or if I did bookmark it, I failed to remember where I saved the bookmark.

Interestingly enough, Wikipedia has a list of manor homes and some names are links to pages about that house. Better I found a Project Britain page that explained, sort of, why the British name their houses and domiciles. (http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/housenames.htm) There’s even a list of the most popular names for houses, and the most common themes. A sign company provided a guide to naming your house (http://www.yoursigns.co.uk/housenames-rules.html) which will help immensely.

But the real gold mine is a Lost Heritage page listing lost English country homes. (http://lh.matthewbeckett.com/lh_complete_list.html) The names are alpha by county, and as I am thinking of Yorkshire for my current story, I looked there for possible useable names. Then I went to Google Maps and tried to coordinate old York with satellite images. I thought Risby Hall in East Riding might do as it was near the coast and the River Humber. There is little or nothing in existence about the place, as it was demolished in the 1820s for reasons unknown. A warning about this page, if you love historic buildings, you will need a strong stomach here. Some of the sites listed have photos available, and when you look at the beautiful buildings and realize they no longer exist, you may need a moment to compose yourself. Excuse me.

Next, I Googled the name of the hall, and found nothing, but I did discover a great web page called Go Historic (http://gohistoric.com/) which is in beta and appears to be a wiki for historic travel destinations. If you visit a place listed in their data base, they would love for you to write a description or give some facts about your visit. When you register with them to start doing this, you don’t get a stupid visual captcha, you are asked a captcha questions like, What color is a strawberry? If you can’t answer that, you might be a spambot.

Go Historic is handmade with love in Portland, Oregon. I wonder if they are hiring? The page includes a time line on any historic places with enough facts to list. There are aerial photos, lists of hotels nearby, and lists of pages that might interest you, such as Jane Austen Places, or Winston Churchill Places. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get a group of historical romance writers together for a tour? Well, I am sure it’s been done before, but this site makes it possible for just about anyone to make the plans.

Side Note: Perusing the list of houses at threat of being demolished, I came across Cambusnethan Priory in the Scottish town of Gowkethrapple. No, really! There is a link to some photos of the place, apparently used in filming “28 Days Later.” (http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/other-sites/29373-cambusnethan-priory-gowkthrapple-wishaw-14%5C03%5C08.html) The Priory is beautiful if neglected and not inhabitable, but I would not say no if someone gave it to me. Not that I could do anything to restore its beauty, but I know here some Society for Creative Anachronism members who would be honored just to camp around it and have it in the background of battles scenarios and court photos.

Lost Heritage includes, when available, the reason or way the homes were demolished. Fire, abandonment, urban development, and insufficient funds to maintain the home all bring pangs at the course of history. But the one that makes me saddest is Surplus to requirements. In other words, the owners had so many other homes, they could spare this one. And as no one particularly wanted to buy it, they had it demolished.

In finishing this up, because time is running on and I only have 2709 words on my novel so far, I want to point you to a Jeeves and Wooster book, one of P.G.Wodehouse’s treasures bestowed upon all Anglophiles. While it doesn’t take place in the Regency period, many things hadn’t changed all that much in the ton. In the story, “Thank You, Jeeves,” Bertie rusticates with a good friend to prove he doesn’t really need Jeeves at his side, and also to reduce the complaints about his playing of a banjolele. (Yes, it is an unholy union between a banjo and a ukelele: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banjo_uke). The friend, Lord “Chuffy” Chuffnell, needs to sell the manor house in Somersetshire. The property includes the main hall, a dower house, cottages, and a boat dock. As always, hilarity ensues and Jeeves gets Bertie Wooster into and out of numerous scrapes. Remember this book was published in 1934, and try to ignore the use of the N word. The use horrified me until I remembered that the word was more commonly used in the time the book appeared. That does not make it right, but in similar fashion to the list of houses about to be lost to us, there is little I can do to change it now.

Have fun if you are NaNoing, and don’t forget to set your clock back an hour on Sunday if you are a crazy American.

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