This month author Eloise Williams takes us on a tour around the Elizabethan London featured in Honesty and Lies.
We’ll be visiting the key places where Honesty and Alice spend their time and Eloise will give you an inside sneak peek into the places as well as what it takes to bring this world to life!
I visit London as often as I can and have favourite haunts. Highgate Cemetery – excuse the haunts pun – the Southbank, Postman’s Park and the West End are all well frequented by us and our tourist’s fascination with pretty much everything. But we wanted to discover somewhere new. ‘What about Greenwich?’ I asked my husband as I peered at a Google map. There’s an observatory in a big park and we can get the boat back. Feet weary of concrete and longing for grass agreed. And so, we set off.
I’d never heard of Greenwich Palace. I don’t know why. I’m not claiming to be a font of all knowledge by any stretch of the imagination but to know nothing of a palace of such stature and magnificence seemed a little bizarre. Oh, it’s not there anymore. That explains it then. But what a gift for a writer to recreate something which has disappeared! Yes! I wanted to do just that.
I had little idea of how people lived in Elizabethan times, save for the series of Blackadder in which Miranda Richardson played QEI which I couldn’t rely on to be wholly accurate, so I thought I’d better educate myself. Nothing helped me more than my visits to Hampton Court Palace, the Globe theatre and the Tudor Merchant’s House in Dinbych-y-Pysgod. The staff at all were so knowledgeable – thanks to them for answering a very annoying number of questions – and to be walking through these historic buildings was just wonderful.
I learned many things which helped me to visualise Alice and Honesty’s lives and how they might have lived at Greenwich. Or course, I am no historian, but I created a palace of my own which, whilst heavily influenced by Hampton Court, has its own identity too.
Seeing it through the eyes of the girls meant that I only had to recreate the places which were relevant to them. It’s a look at the palace through the eyes of the workers. They appreciate the beauty of the dresses and feasts, fine artwork and beautiful fountains, but they also have to work hard in the laundry room, cold underground tunnels where they fear the Thames will break through and drown them, and the stinking washhouse. The contrasts are extreme and the theme of appearance versus reality echoed my theme of honesty and lies so well it was almost as if it was planned that way.