AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON …

MAN OF BLOOD OR MARTYR OF THE PEOPLE?

The Trial of Charles A Play in One Act

This is the play I wrote especially for performance in the courtroom of Sandwich Guildhall during August and September.

Quayside Players performed the play five times before extremely appreciative audiences – who, at the end, were asked to give their own verdict. Interestingly enough, all five voted overwhelmingly to let the King keep his head!

The play lasts an hour and is suitable for performance by schools and amateur groups. Every character on the cast-list is a real person – I, for example, played the role of Anne Fairfax – and the size of the overall cast can be increased or decreased, as required.

Anyone wishing to stage the play should contact me for information regarding performing rights.

LORDS OF MISRULE – R&C book 4

Still tied to his desk in the Intelligence Office, Colonel Eden Maxwell has become disenchanted with both Cromwell and his own existence; and with the advent of new Royalist conspiracies, he despairs of ever getting away.
Then a brick hurled through the window of a small workshop sets in motion a new and unexpected chain of events. After all, who would want to hurt Lydia Neville – a young widow, giving work and self-respect to maimed war veterans? But when the assaults in Duck Lane threaten the life and remaining limbs of some of Eden’s former troopers, finding the culprit becomes personal.
With reckless Cavaliers lurking around every corner and a government still struggling to find its way, Lords of Misrule is set against the early years of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate.

What the readers say of Lords of Misrule

“If there were more than five stars, this series would certainly rate them!”

“The books excel in so many ways – the superbly handled historical framework, the engaging characters,the witty dialogue, the fluent writing, the page-turner plots and of course the romance.”

“This is one for history buffs, but as always with this author the writing is polished and the characters vivid. Great story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

350 years ago today … and a freebie!

Sixteen hundred and sixty-six, London burned like rotten sticks

Not exactly something to celebrate … but equally, not something to be forgotten since the Great Fire completely changed the face of London.

To mark the occasion, THE MARIGOLD CHAIN which concludes with a detailed account of the Great Fire,  will be free on Amazon for one day only.  Get your copy today, September 2nd.

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Alex glanced sharply down at Chloë’s pale face and would perhaps have spoken had not his attention been diverted by a sudden, stunned gasp issuing from the group of spectators gathered just ahead of them on the Falcon Stairs to watch the last blazing hours of Paul’s Cathedral.
‘The roof! The roof’s melting!’
And indeed it was. Flames burst from the belfry and from the lofty, pointed windows beneath, flickering round the crumbling buttresses and curling through the framework of the once magnificent rose window; and the vast expanse of roof, its wooden rafters aflame from within, assumed an exquisite sheen of shimmering silver as the six acres of lead were transformed into a state of molten fluidity. Then down it came in a terrific, shining cascade; every gargoyle and gutter spouted a gleaming shower to fall down the hill, while the timber frame gave way with almighty groan and the stone pinnacles and transom beams began to split and crack like volleys of artillery.
Chloë’s fingers clenched tight on Mr Deveril’s arm and her eyes were utterly stark.
‘But it’s stone! How can it burn like that?’
‘It’s stone,’ agreed Alex dryly, ‘but the Paternoster Row merchants are using the crypt as a safe storehouse for their wares.’
She stared at him. ‘What wares?’
‘Books. They’ve crammed it with books and manuscripts. Enough to burn for a week.’

The Trial of Charles 1 – a dramatic reconstruction!

MAN OF BLOOD OR MARTYR OF THE PEOPLE?

Some months ago, I was asked to write a play.
Something suitable to be performed in Sandwich’s ancient courtroom
during both the annual Festival and Arts Week.
This, since I’ve never written a play before, was a bit scary … but here is the result.

The cover of our programme

Every member of the cast is portraying a real person and all the language in the actual trial sequences is authentic … words spoken by the King himself and by the various officers of the court. Even my own additional scenes feature people who were really there.  (For my sins, I’ll be playing the part of Anne Fairfax!)  If you’ve ever wondered what really happened during those four days in January 1649, it’s in our play – warts and all, as someone who shall be nameless once said.

Our beautiful courtroom, dating from the reign of Elizabeth 1

 

To our amazement and delight, tickets for both August performances sold out within five days.  But anyone who missed out will have the chance to catch this unique performance when we repeat it on September 17th & 18th for Sandwich Arts Week.

Lords of Misrule on Alli

Join the Alliance of Independent Authors

New Novel: Lords of Misrule

Lords of MisruleLords of Misrule, the fourth book in Stella Riley’s Roundheads & Cavaliers series, is now available in paperback as well as ebook. Set against the first months of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate, this is the long-awaited story of Colonel Eden Maxwell who readers first met in The Black Madonna.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Print

Testimonials

Anyone who has read any of Stella Riley’s other books won’t need me to tell them that her plot is impeccably constructed, her characterisation is superb, her research is detailed and extensive and that she writes the most exquisitely ‘romantic’ romances in which the sexual tension between the hero and heroine is built gradually and subtly. There is no repetitive mental lusting and no insta-lust, just a wonderfully developed relationship between two people who are obviously attracted to each other but who have to function in the real world around them and can’t just drop everything while they moon over the object of their affections. Ms. Riley’s greatest strength – and she has many – is probably characterisation. She has the knack of creating the most gorgeous heroes, men who are physically attractive, of course, but who are also intelligent, honourable, kind and quick-witted with a dry sense of humour and possessed of the kind of competence and confidence which is extremely sexy. Eden is no exception, and readers who have been waiting for his story for the last couple of decades certainly won’t be disappointed now that he’s the centre of attention.
Extract from review at All About Romance

More information: http://www.s654725277.websitehome.co.uk/


Purchase Links

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Welcome to Adrian’s world

Having recently launched The Player into audio, I thought some readers/listeners might be interested in a glimpse of the places where the latter part of the book is set – most of which have changed very little since Adrian’s time..

TP audio green cover

Welcome to the Ancient Cinque Port of Sandwich, Kent.

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Marcus would put money, if he’d had any, on Sarre having procured a license; and, if that was the case, there was almost certainly only one place he’d go.  The house in that God-forsaken spot on the east Kent coast that he’d always been so bloody fond of.  (Extract from The Player)

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Caroline opened the curtains and found herself gazing across a narrow sand and shingle beach to miles and miles of empty grey ocean.  She shut her eyes and then opened them again.  If one were searching for the bleakest most deserted spot one could find, this should surely qualify.

Adrian’s guided tour – and schoolroom lesson.

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‘During the reign of Edward the Confessor, Sandwich and four similar ports were grouped together to become known as the Cinque Ports.’
‘The other four being …?’
‘Dover, Hastings, Hythe and Romney,’ said Sarre.  Then, ‘Who is conducting this lesson?’
‘You, my lord,’ replied Caroline severely. ‘But you shouldn’t miss things out.’

(c) Sandwich Guildhall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Adrian would have recognised his town in this painting.  It shows the bridge over the River Stour and the Barbican; and, dominating the sky-line, St Peter’s church.

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A similar view today. Adrian would have known the drawbridge built in 1757, not the more modern swing bridge we have now. But he’d recognise pretty much everything else.

‘The bridge is only about twenty years old,’ he remarked.  ‘I remember it being built. Before that, one had to cross the river by ferry.’  Then, pointing to an odd building comprising two conical parts connected by an arch spanning the road, ‘The Barbican, on the other hand, pre-dates it by over two centuries.  Tolls are payable there for every carriage, cart and cow wishing to use the bridge.’

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And a little later, in Strand Street …

Caroline strolled along, admiring a row of black-and-white half-timbered houses.  She said, ‘I’ve never been anywhere like this.  It’s charming.’
‘I’m glad you think so.  In the sixteenth century, these houses and others like them were probably occupied by Flemish Huguenots who came here to escape religious persecution.’  He gave her a half-smile.  ‘Many of them, it may interest you to know, were weavers by trade.’

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The Guildhall Courtyard where Adrian and Caroline met Mr Bailes.

Sarre took in the thin coat hanging loosely on a too-thin frame and the swollen joints in the rheumatic hands.  Then, turning to Caroline, he said, ‘I’m being very rude.  This gentleman is Mr Bailes.  He was head-gardener at Sarre Park when I was young.  Mr Bailes – this is Mistress Maitland.  She is a friend of mine.’
‘Honoured, Miss.’ Bailes touched his shapeless hat and looked back at the Earl with a sigh. ‘I’m glad to have seen you, m’lord – but I’ll be on my way now.  It’s not right keeping the young lady standing about in the cold.’
His lordship detained him with a hand on his arm.
‘It isn’t – which is why we’ll go over to the Old New Inn so that she can sit by the fire while you tell me everything.’

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Inside the church of St Peter …

With no music, no flowers and an openly disapproving vicar, the ceremony was both simple and no longer than necessary.  The ring slid on to her finger, warm from his hand.  She stared at it for a second, transfixed, before looking into his face to discover that he was doing the same thing, his expression oddly intent. Then the silver-grey eyes flicked back to her face and the shadows vanished in a dazzling smile.

This has changed a bit.  And these days, St Peter’s is no longer a functioning church – but the curfew bell, telling locals they may let their pigs and geese into the streets is still rung there every evening at 8 pm

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And finally, Walmer Castle – scene of the confrontation between Adrian and Marcus.

Marcus swallowed.  ‘Come to gloat, have you?’
No, you malicious ass, answered Adrian silently.  I’ve come to rub your nose in the mess you’ve made of your own life and done your damnedest to make of mine. And to find out why.

Originally built as one of Henry the Eighth’s coastal defences, the castle later became the home of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports.  In Adrian’s day the current Lord Warden was the Earl of Holderness.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour around Adrian’s town.  As you may possibly have guessed, I’m proud to live here.

 

KATHERINE STUART, LADY d’AUBIGNY

KATE d’AUBIGNY, later Viscountess Newburgh  1620(?) to 1650

1638 by Van Dyck

Lord_George_Stuart_Seigneur_D'Aubigny

 

Daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, little is known of Kate’s early years or education. In May 1638 she secretly married Lord George Stuart, ninth Seigneur d’Aubigny and second son of the Duke of Lennox.  Clearly, it was a love-match; less clear is why neither Kate’s parents nor the King, who was guardian to the Stuart brothers, would consent to the match.  But the young pair did it anyway and had it commemorated in two sumptuous portraits by Van Dyck.  The one of George (now in the National Portrait Gallery) bears the motto, ‘Love is stronger than I am’.

The couple had two children.  Tragically, however, George was killed at the battle of Edgehill in October 1642 leaving his young widow not just heart-broken but in financial difficulties. Since George hadn’t made a will, Kate couldn’t gain access  to his money.

In May 1643, she got Parliament’s permission to come to London to deal with her husband’s affairs.  Kate used this opportunity to deliver the King’s Commission of Array (aimed at raising forces among royalist sympathizers in the city) to fellow-conspirator Edmund Waller.  It’s said she frequently carried secret messages hidden in her curls! Unfortunately, the Waller Plot was betrayed and some of the obscurer figures involved in it were hanged by Parliament. Kate claimed the protection of the French ambassador, by virtue of her husband’s French title, but was none the less imprisoned in the Tower for some months.

By late 1648 Katherine had married her second husband, a Scottish gentleman of the bedchamber to the King – James Livingston, Viscount Newburgh.  They did not have children.

In December 1648, only weeks before his trial and execution, Charles I spent a night at the Newburghs’ house in Surrey, on his way from the Isle of Wight to Windsor, and the couple seem to have made some attempt to secure his escape. Their plans were foiled by the precautions of Major-General Thomas Harrison, but they were able to pass messages from Charles to his exiled queen.

Following the regicide the Newburghs joined other royalist exiles at The Hague. Kate died there in 1650 and was survived by her husband, who was created Earl of Newburgh in 1660 on the Restoration.

 

WENDY'S FAVOURITES – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: LES MÉSALLIANCE BY STELLA RILEY AND NARRATED BY ALEX WYNDHAM

(Rockliffe, #2) Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian – 1767 and 1775) Cover Blurb: The Duke of Rockliffe is 36 years old, head of his house, and responsible for his young sister, Nell. He is, theref…

Source: WENDY’S FAVOURITES – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: LES MÉSALLIANCE BY STELLA RILEY AND NARRATED BY ALEX WYNDHAM