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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

 

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.

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Kishanda Fulford on Reading Jane Austen, Ghosts, and Life in a Stately Home

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ October 29, 2021

I first "met" Kishanda Fulford when my co-blogger Fay Sampson reported on her experience visiting Great Fulford. When I discovered that Kishanda was the most popular topic on my blog--yes, even before Jane Austen--I wrote a blog wondering whether or not Kishanda might be a Janeite. In researching for that article I discovered that Kishanda Fulford is actually writing a book about an 18th century woman.

With considerable trepidation of over-stepping the bounds of propriety, I wrote to Kishanda, requesting an interview. Her response was immediate and gracious, with a touch of humor, referring to her home Great Fulford as the 'malignant castle,' and adding later, "I have a film crew in the house at the moment so am distracted... they have just set the fire alarm off with fake smoke."

Without further ado, I give you, Gentle Reader, Kishanda Fulford:

Next year my biography of Louisa Carolina Colleton, will be published. She was an ancestress of my husband and her life of adventures in the late 18th century on both sides of the Atlantic reads like a ‘gothic novel,’ the sort of book which the heroines of Jane Austen’s England would bury their faces in as they were all the rage at the time. My research in to Louisa’s life, and of those around her, continues to this day. It is addictive.  Only yesterday I learnt that her husband had several racehorses. 

If am not reading 18th century diaries (my present one is the ‘Torrington Diaries’, about the travels of the Hon. John Bying, between 1781 and 1794.  It almost reads like ‘Trip Advisor’, as he is very critical of every inn he stays in, and of the food served to him), then I read the Spectator and Moneyweek.  Novels, old and modern, are piling up on my bedside table, waiting to be read when my book is taken off my hands.  Jane Austen’s books are amongst them. Although I have read them all, and most more than once, you can never tire of them.  The same applies to novels by the Bronte sisters, and Georgette Heyer.

I live in what is known as a ‘Stately Home’ and reading Jane Austen I marvel at the sheer idleness of those young girls whose lives spring from the pages.  But perhaps that is too judgemental after all what lay before them?  Marriage to an eligible man, like as Francis, my husband says, himself! Then endless childbirth, joy mixed with grief as, inevitably, the child you loved best died. And of course the ever present risk of death in childbirth or from disease.

How much better then perhaps is my life as a modern day chatelaine of a great house. I don’t have the servants to answer to my every whim but we have health.  It is hard to imagine how fragile life was in Austen’s time.   

Big houses inevitably make monetary demands and to fund the restoration and repairs we do a variety of activities.  From showing occasional groups round the house ourselves to hosting ‘Ghost Tours,’ Do we have ghosts? Of course. Have I seen one? No but I have heard them and Francis has seen one twice in his life.  Sadly we missed out on what we hoped would be a bonanza in 2020 when Devon was expecting to receive an avalanche of American visitors to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.

If Big Houses are demanding how much more demanding are gardens. Gardens are like small children always squealing for attention and if a garden doesn’t get it then it quickly reverts to jungle. But luckily ‘jungle gardens’ are now all the rage. As ‘rewilding’ and providing gardens for nature/birds/bees/butterflies is now the fashion  so by accident our garden is now at the forefront of modern garden design!

Sometimes though one needs a break and we have just come back from a week in Brittany. We took a ship from Plymouth with the car and landed at Roscoff.  We spent a restful week meandering round the countryside staying in different hotels marvelling at the vast empty beaches (August might be another matter) and the sheer beauty of the ‘pink granite coast.’ But of course going to France means food and we feasted on oysters and ‘fruits de mer’ to our hearts content.  

This is written in haste, as we have let the house for the weekend for a Stag party. 18 of them! 

Happy Halloween. 

Kishanda Fulford

www.greatfulford.co.uk

 

Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

www.donnafletchercrow.com

Read More: Kishanda Fulford

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