Researching Ancient Objects
Published on September 14, 2015 by lahilden | Views: 966

Klerksdorp Spheres are small, spherical to disc shaped objects that were mined from three billion year old pyrophyllite deposits in South Africa.  Some believe these out-of-place objects were manufactured by intelligent beings.  Geologists have concluded that the objects are not manufactured, but naturally made.  The appearance of these objects, which look manmade, is what brought them to my attention.  I’m working on a plot for book three in my time traveling Witches of Griffin series and I wanted to find an ancient object I can tie into Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt.  Before I decide to use any objects in my story I do quite a bit of research about them, which is why I decided to turn what I learn into a blog, while also explaining the process I use to create my stories.

The Klerksdorp Spheres range in diameter from 0.5 to 10 centimeters, with colors ranging from dark reddish brown to dusky red.  Many specimens consist of hematite and goethite and some of them have distinct parallel latitudinal grooves, while others are inter-grown with each other.  Geologists Cairncross and Heinrich argue that the grooves are caused naturally in volcanic ash sediments over 3 billion years ago.  There have been other similar objects found in Australia and New York, although the Klerksdorp Spheres are the oldest known examples.

After researching more about these spheres, I decided not to use them in my story. They don’t seem very mysterious since they formed naturally and so it is not what I’m looking for.  And now I’m done wasting time on them and shall move onto a new idea.

Moving onto the Sphere of Destiny, which is a sphere of flawless, natural quartz crystal that weighs about 10 pounds.  There are only a few flawless quartz spheres of this size in existence on earth.  The crystal sphere was believed to have been smuggled out of Acre, Isreal by the Knights Templar in 1291 AD.  The Templars history states that the sphere was carved from a powerful seer’s stone, which was reputed to be the original Eye of Cleopatra.  It is uncertain how the object came to be in the Templars possession, but at that point in history the Knights were collecting objects of power and art from all over the East.  The mention of Cleopatra in affiliation with the crystal sphere is why it was brought to my attention.  I’m debating on having the sisters travel back to assist their many greats grandmother Cleopatra and this research is part of my process to find a reason for their journey.

The Eye of Cleopatra was a large 25-pound rough quartz stone block that had been ground and polished to a glassy shine on its upper surface.  If someone stares into the dark depth of the crystal it is said the past and future will be revealed through images.  It is also said that Cleopatra could speak to her generals through the stone.  History states that Cleopatra saw Mark Anthony’s face for the first time by looking into the stone. 

It sounds like a scrying mirror that can be purchased today, which is believed to show images of the past or future.  Since this crystal can tell Cleopatra the future and allow her to speak to her generals, it is worth a great deal to her and it is definitely something I can work with in book three.  If this crystal was stolen she’d want it returned quickly, and who better to come to her rescue than her triplet 21st century granddaughters who share her gift of magic.  I’m liking the idea, but back to the research.

The Eye was considered ancient even by Cleopatra’s time, and is believed to be from a time before written history.  I do love the sound of that as ideas are flooding my mind regarding its origin.

The Sphere of Destiny was taken from the Knights Templar, who had carved the block of seer stone into a perfect shiny crystal ball.  The Mamluks then took this roughly ten-pound sphere in 1302.  It was later purchased by a wealthy occultist in Egypt, and was passed between various seers over hundreds of years.  The crystal has been used to predict the most accurate prophecies ever documented.  It is currently in a private collection in Istanbul.  It is also the same crystal referenced in Frank Baum’s movie The Wizard of Oz.

This is that same crystal used by the priests of Isis and Osiris, in which Cleopatra first saw the approach of Julius Caesar...and so on, and so on... --Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel in "The Wizard of Oz."

Well that is all the research I can do today, I’ve read so many articles that my brain needs a rest.  Now is the point that my imagination ties in Cleopatra’s magical stone block into the rest of what I envision for the book.  It is a process, but I already know that the research has helped to get the story ideas flowing.  Plus, I’ve learned about Klerksdorp Spheres and the Sphere of Destiny, whereas I knew nothing about them before.


A special thank you to:

Bow Street Runners – London’s First Police Force
Published on August 26, 2015 by LA Hilden | Views: 2087

Bow Street Runners were considered London’s first professional police force and were instituted due to the high levels of crime and vice in the city.  In 1748, London was dealing with a gin consumption problem, which caused more crime.  The British Magistrate and writer Henry Fielding reported, “that every fourth house in Covent Garden was a gin shop.”  As a means to tackle these issues, Magistrate Henry Fielding brought together eight constables, known as “Mr. Fielding’s People.”  His people soon gained a reputation for their honesty and efficiency in pursuing criminals.  These constables became known as Bow Street Runners.
Henry Fielding

Initially there were only eight Bow Street Officers, Runners was the public’s nickname for them.  The Runners had a formal attachment to the Bow Street Magistrate’s office and were paid by the magistrate with government funds.  This made them unlike the “thief-takers” who were men for hire who solved petty crimes for a fee.  The Runners worked out of Fielding’s office at No. 4 Bow Street in London’s Covent Garden.  This was also the courthouse and Fielding’s residence.  The officers did not patrol the streets, but served writs and arrested offenders.  They had leeway to travel all over the nation in search for criminals.  To improve relations between the public and the law, Henry Fielding began a newspaper called The Covent Journal.  The following appeared regularly in the journal: “All persons who shall for the future suffer by robbers, burglars, etc., are desired immediately to bring or send the best description they can of such robbers, etc., with the time, and place, and circumstances of the fact, to Henry Fielding, Esq., at his house in Bow Street.”  In my suspense Regency thriller The Heiress Killer, which is not yet released, my hero, the Earl of Ravenswood is a great “thief-taker.”

After Henry Fielding’s death, his brother Sir John Fielding succeeded him as Chief Magistrate in 1754.  Blinded by an accident at the age of 19, John Fielding became known as the “Blind Beak.”  It was said that John could recognize 3,000 thieves by voice alone.  It was Sir John who turned the Runners into an effective police force for London.  He persuaded the government to contribute more to the expense of the small police force and made pamphlets for his runners, listing the criminal’s descriptions.  In 1805, Bow Street Officers included a horse patrol, this was the first uniformed police unit in Britain.  In the 1800’s, concerns about thefts in the dockyards led to the Thames Police Office at Wapping.  This office eventually had 3 stipendiary magistrates and 100 constables to police.

To encourage people to report crimes made against them, there were rotation offices established in the City of London and Middlesex.  These offices were established to assure that a Londoner could always find a magistrate during the fixed hours.  Two well-known runners who gained reputations for their good works as officers were John Sayer and John Townsend.  These two also made a fair amount of coin in pay, reward, and upon an offender’s conviction.  The coin offered for capture and conviction ended up altering criminal trials, as the witnesses testimonies against the criminals were challenged by defense lawyers who questioned the honesty of a witness who was set to gain a reward.

In 1829, Robert Peel’s Metropolitan Police Act was instituted; this system centralized the police force of 3000 men under the control of the Home Secretary, with responsibility to police the entire metropolitan area.  These uniformed officers wore blue tailcoats, top hats, and carried wooden batons, handcuffs, and a wooden rattle to raise the alarm.  A whistle eventually replaced the wooden rattle in the 1880’s.  These officers were referred to as the “Peelers” or “Bobbies,” which is a reference to Peel’s name.  Bobbies was one of the nicer nicknames given to the officers.  Policing caused fear due to the repressive secret police that aided Napoleon in the French Revolution, which is why the public did not readily accept them.

Even with all the new officers, the victim of a crime was still responsible to report the crime, identify the criminal, and prosecute them.  Gradually a change was made as officers assumed the responsibility for prosecuting the offenders.  In 1839, a second Metropolitan Police Act pretty much cemented the institutions existence as the police extended their jurisdiction and increased the number of officers to 4300.  This Act also abolished the post constable employment at the old magistrates offices.  At the same time another Act was instituted to create a similar police force for the City of London.

By the end of the 18th century, London had a substantial body of watchmen employed to prevent crime and apprehend criminals.  By the end of the 19th century a full-fledged police force was in effect.  Due to the Turf Fraud Scandal the Metropolitan Police Detectives were reorganized with the formation of the Criminal Justice System.  By the 20th century, the Criminal Justice System could claim to be modern and scientific in their pursuit of criminals.  The first conviction made from an offenders fingerprint was in 1902, when Harry Jackson was convicted of burglary.  Nevertheless, the policing system still relied on the victims reporting the crimes and making positive identifications.  The most significant changes from the late 17th century was the introduction of uniformed, salaried officials who were controlled by the Home Office and responsible for tracking down suspects and making arrests.  In my Time Travel Destiny Series, two of my heroes work for the Home Office.

The rise in crime led to vicious penalties.  To read more about Judicial Beheadings and to read more about Judicial hangings:


A special thank you to:, and Jane Austen’s England by Roy and Lesley Adkins and

Gunter's Tea Shop
Published on August 17, 2015 by lahilden | Views: 3249

Gunter’s Tea Shop was a famous confectioner and considered “one of the great institutions of Regency London.”  The aristocracy enjoyed lounging about outside the establishment on Berkley Square, while enjoying a delicious treat or a frozen sorbet on a hot day.

The shop was originally called The Pot and Pineapple and established in 1757 by Italian pastry chef, Domenico Negri.  The pineapple was a symbol of luxury and commonly used by confectioners.  The shop sold English, French, and Italian wet and dry sweetmeats, which are sweet treats made from sugar or honey.  The confectioner’s art of creation was like a science, as many processes of heating and cooling were used to refine sugar and produce the tasty treats.  Items served consisted of creatively shaped custards, ice cream, frozen mousses, jellied fruit, candies, syrups, biscuits, and caramels.  Some of the ice cream flavors include chocolate, lavender, maple, Parmesan, Gruyere cheese, and bergamot, which is a type of orange that is yellow like a lemon.  The Bergamot orange is inedible, but its extracts are used to flavor treats.  It is said to taste less sour than a lemon, but bitterer than a grapefruit.  Mousses were often vanilla, saffron, and pineapple.  For more information on sweetmeats, chocolate, and ice cream in Regency England:

In 1777, James Gunter became Negri’s business partner, and by 1799, Gunter was the sole proprietor.  In the 19th and 20th centuries, Gunter’s was considered a fashionable light eatery in Mayfair, well known for its ices, sorbets, and confections.  James Gunter garnered enough wealth from his business to purchase a fine mansion in Earl’s Court.  Gunter’s son Robert studied confections in Paris and eventually took over his father’s business after his death in 1819.  Robert eventually brought his cousin John in as a partner, assuring the business would remain in the family.  Robert went on to write a cookbook, Gunter’s Confectioner’s Oracle, which was published in 1830.  His book was said to be filled with gossip, name-dropping and a terrible dictionary of ingredients, but I’m sure there were recipes too.  He began his cookbook with a dream he had of being led to a banquet by a witch.  It certainly sounds interesting and unlike other cookbooks I’ve read.  There were also famous apprentices who worked at the shop and went on to write their own cookbooks.

Located on the east side of Berkeley Square, Gunter’s became a trendy place for a gentleman to take the lady he was courting.  According to the Encyclopedia of London, “A custom grew up that ices were eaten, not in the shop, but in the Square itself; ladies would remain in their carriages under the trees, their escorts leaning against the railings near them, while the waiters dodged across the road with their orders.”  Gunter’s was the only establishment where a lady could visit with an admirer in an open carriage, without a chaperone or relative, and no harm would come to her reputation.  Mayfair happened to be were the aristocracy lived and famous people like Beau Brummell lived near the shop.  King George III was known to purchase his buns at Gunter’s Tea Shop.   For more on Beau Brummell:

Gunter’s was also known for its catering business and for their wedding cakes.  The bride cake for the marriage of Queen Victoria’s Granddaughter, Princess Louise of Wales, was made at Gunter’s.

Gunter’s Tea Shop is no longer located at its original location and was moved to Curzon Street in 1936.  The shop closed for business in 1956, although the catering business lasted for 20 more years in Bryanston Square.

To read more about the Regency Period:

A special thank you to: and and Secret London by Andrew Duncan


Historic Sights Part Fourteen
Published on August 10, 2015 by L.A. Hilden | Views: 1144

Bojnice Castle is located in Bojnice, Slovakia.  The medieval fortress was originally built in the 12th century as a wooden fort with thick walls and a moat.  Through the centuries, the wood structure was gradually replaced with stone.  Bojnice Castle was home to King Matthias in the 15th century.  He gifted the castle and grounds to his illegitimate son, John Corvinus.  In 1528, the Thurzos family, the richest and most influential family in the Hungary Kingdom, acquired the castle.  Renovations began and two wings were added, turning the once wooden fortress into a Renaissance Castle with Gothic elements.  From the 16th century through the 19th century, the castle remained in the Paiffy family.  Count Janos Ferenc Paiffy had the castle reconstructed to mimic the French castles he admired in the Loire Valley.  Paiffy’s remains lie inside the castle in a red marble sarcophagus.  The castle also boasts a natural travertine cave inside with two small lakes.  The castle and lands were sold in 1939 to Jan Bata.  In 1945, the Czechoslovak government confiscated the property.  It suffered through fire in 1950 and was rebuilt at the government’s expense. Bojnice Castle is open to the public.

Ta Prohm is the modern name for the temple at Angkor.  Located in Cambodia in the Siem Reap province, the temple was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.  The temple became a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university, which was founded by the Khmer King, Jayavarman VII, who dedicated Ta Prohm to his mother.  Ta Prohm is a traditional Khmer structure, consisting of a series of gradually smaller enclosures, with the center tower connecting the smaller towers through passageways.  The site was home to more than 12, 500 people in the late 12th century, with a population of 800,000 in the surrounding villages.  The temple was modified after King Jayavarman VII’s death, and modified later by Hindu and Thervada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious beliefs.  After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 17th century, the temple was abandoned. Restoration to conserve the temples of Angkor began in the early 21st century, but it was decided that Ta Prohm would be left in its ruined state.  The jungle surrounding the temple merged with the ruins, giving it a new overall appeal to the tourists who frequent the temple.  Although the ruins are bound by massive roots from the fig, silk-cotton, and kapok trees, the area was stabilized to make the temple accessible to tourists, which was necessary since Ta Prohm is Angkor’s most visited temple.  Ta Prohm was inscribed by UNESCO and placed on the World Heritage list in 1992.   The temple includes 260 statues of gods, 39 towers with pinnacles and 566 different residences.  Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed there.

Inveraray Castle is located in the county of Argyll, in western Scotland.  The castle sits on the shore of Loch Fyne, which is Scotland’s longest sea loch.  The estate has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell since the 17th century.  The castle’s architecture is neo-Gothic in design, with crenellated circular towers.  Inveraray is believed to be haunted by a harpist, who was hanged in 1644 for “peeping at the lady of the house.”  The television series Most Haunted has filmed at this location.  And in 2012, the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey was partially filmed at Inveraray.  The castle is home to the 13th Duke of Argyll, his wife, and their three children.  The homestead boasts a 16-acre garden that encompasses only a small fraction of the 60,000 acres estate.

Olite Castle is located in the town of Olite, Navarra, Spain.  The medieval castle was built during the 13th and 14th centuries and served as the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Navarre, until its union with Castile in 1512.  King Charles III of Navarre extended the castle during the 15th century.  Due to various expansions, the overall plan is irregular in design.  Although the palace looks like a military bastion, the castle served as a residential palace.  King Charles III kept many exotic animals like giraffes and lions at the palace.  The castle has whimsical towers, battlements, and courtyards.  It was seen as one of the most beautiful castles of Europe during Charles’ reign.  The palace was invaded in 1512 and fell into ruin, although it was used to house the occasional nobleman.  It was intentionally burned during the Peninsular War of 1813.  The destruction by fire was to prevent French troops from using it for strategic positioning.  In 1913, the provincial government acquired the ruins.  The palace was declared a National Monument in 1925 to save it from destruction.  In 1937, restoration began and was completed thirty years later, although according to documentation there are difficulties achieving its original state.  The palace is open to the public, with the old palace serving as the Parador de Olite Hotel.

Rod of Hermes
Published on July 13, 2015 by L.A. Hilden | Views: 2790

The Caduceus symbol is an ancient symbol used to represent modern day medicine in the United States.  Throughout time this symbol has been used in the medical field, politics, government, shamanic healing and metaphysical healing.  The symbol’s origins date as early as 2600 BC in Mesopotamia.

As an alchemy symbol the caduceus is the intermingling of sulphur (male) and quicksilver (female), referring to a synthesis of opposites.  The word caduceus is Greek and means “herald’s staff.”  A herald was a messenger for the monarchy.  So to the Greek’s, the center rod symbolized Hermes who was a messenger of the gods.  The caduceus’s center staff also represents the I Am consciousness, and is seen as a conduit between heaven and earth.  The staff is a symbol of power and used in magic, it’s associated with wisdom, mysticism, and leadership.  This aspect of the staff is shown in scripture from the religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.  In the Bible, God instructs Moses to fashion a pole with a bronze serpent, this Nehushtan would spare the lives of Israelites bitten by venomous snakes.

The sacred sphere at the end of the staff is said to represent the world.  The two entwined serpents represent duality of the physical and metaphysical becoming one, where opposites integrate to create a balance for harmony.  Much like the symbolic meaning behind the Yin and Yang.  The spiraling effect shows the expansion of knowledge.  The snakes represent the Kundalini energy, which is a primal energy found at the base of the root chakra in all humans.  Specifically it is referring to the three nadis.  Nadis are channels were energy flows and they are connected to the chakras.  Ida and Pingala rise up the spine, which are the two snakes, while Sushumna forms the staff and runs through the seven main chakras.  Awakening the kundalini is said to bring about spiritual enlightenment, which can be done through deep meditation and spiritual practices.  The kundalini is one of the components that make up the subtle body, along with the nadis, chakras, prana, and the bindu.  Thus, the rising of the kundalini represents healing on every level, this includes the spiritual and emotional, as well as the physical.

The wings on the caduceus symbolize travel to the higher plane and represent an awareness gained from a heavenly vantage point.  See my blog on Angels.

Hermes was not the only god to carry this symbol for it is also seen with Anubis (Egyptian god of afterlife) Baal (Phoenician god of universe) Mercury (Roman god of abundance) and Aesculapius (Greek god of medicine).  The symbol being attributed to modern medicine came from Aesculapius, the god of healing and was popularized further by Carl Jung as he felt it was a great symbol to represent homeopathy.  In 1902, the U.S. Army Medical Department adopted the caduceus as its symbol.  It is used by 76% of doctors in the US, while in other parts of the world the Asclepius, a single serpent staff, is used.

The meaning gained from the symbol varies in different cultures.  The symbol continues to represent spiritual awakening and healing.  Famous ancient healers include Pharaoh Imhotep from 1000 BC Egypt.  The Greek healer Aesculapius's efforts were considered miracles, and Hippocrates from 460 BC was known as the “Father of Medicine.”  Then of course there was the greatest healer of all time, Jesus.  Unfortunately in 12th century Europe, Pope Alexander III warned that the devil was influencing the healers and that the sick should be left to the physicians.  By the end of the Middle Ages, holism was banned from being used as a form of healing. (Holism treated the entire person, mentally as well as physically, while looking at all contributing factors as a whole.)   Natural herbal remedies were axed as licensed physicians began to prescribe medicines.

Power Symbols
Published on June 13, 2015 by lahilden | Views: 1630

Symbols have been used since ancient times to represent belief, action, or material entities.  Through time, symbols are often transformed and repurposed to take on new connotations.  Symbols are used to convey a sense of meaning to the viewer interpreting them.  There are many symbols referenced in my Witches of Griffin series; some are mentioned in this blog.

The Reiki Cho Ku Rei is a power symbol used in Usui Reiki.  Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui developed Usui Reiki in 1922.  Of course “hands on healing” with energy has been done since ancient times, so Reiki can be seen as a resurgence of the ancient healing methods.  The Cho Ku Rei symbol essentially means, “Place the power of the universe here.”  I practice Usui Reiki and the Cho Ku Rei is the symbol I use most, since this symbol can increase the power of Reiki.  It also serves as a sign of protection.  Here’s my short blog on Reiki:

The Triskelion is a symbol of three interlocking spirals.  These spirals are said to represent three bent human legs or three curved lines that extend from the center.  The triskelion’s first appearance was in Malta in 4400-3600 BC.  The triple spiral is a Neolithic symbol in Western Europe and although it’s considered Celtic, it’s actually pre-Celtic, although it was incorporated into Celtic culture and is seen on Megalithic and Neolithic sites in Ireland.  The symbol took on new meaning with the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, as it came to represent the Holy Trinity.  To the pagans, this symbol represented the three realms, Sea, Sky and Earth, as well as deities like Manannan mac Lir, a sea deity in Irish mythology.  This symbol often represents the power of three.

The Chinese Taijitu is a fairly common symbol in the United States and is usually referred to as the Yin/Yang symbol.  “The symbol is to serve as a diagram of supreme ultimate” according to the followers of the religious and philosophical traditions of Taoism.  The symbol consists of one black and one white tadpole shape that fit together to form a perfect circle.  Each side contains a part of the other, as is represented with the dot of the opposites color in each halves center.  This signifies how the halves becoming whole when placed together.  The dark side represents the Yin, which is the feminine side (earth, moon, night, passive, and cold) and the light side the Yang, the masculine side (fire, sky, day, aggressive, and hot).  The symbol signifies how everything exists in duality, but one cannot exist without the other, as they are interdependent.  Thus the symbol’s power comes from having perfect balance.

The Ankh is the Ancient Egyptian symbol of Life and one of the most recognizable hieroglyphs in the world.  It looks much like the Christian cross with a loop above the transverse bar.  The meaning of the ankh is eternal life for it represents the souls immortality.  This symbol is often seen in Ancient Egyptian art, with the ankh being fed or inhaled by the pharaoh to assure the leader’s immortality.  This symbol was later associated with Christianity and referred to as a Coptic cross.

A special thank you to:


What I’m Currently Working On…
Published on June 3, 2015 by L.A. Hilden | Views: 864

It’s been a busy time in my writing world.  I’m currently working on getting my new release The Wallflower’s Godmother into the marketplace.  My cover and interior designer moved onto new life adventures and this had me searching for someone else to do the work, which took some time.  I was lucky to find Dafeenah Jameel from Indie Designz and she did a wonderful job for me.  Today I uploaded the various book files to different markets, which used to be done for me.  Fingers crossed that the book and cover will upload on the different sites without issue and I receive the go ahead.  If all goes as it should, the book will be available in paperback through Lightning Source, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon around June 7th.  The eBook will be available on Amazon at that time and available at Barnes and Noble, Apple, and other venues in three months.

In The Wallflower’s Godmother, the Earl of Dunford owns an estate with a hedge maze where a folly is found at its center.  The cover art shows the scene quite well and I was really happy with the photos I found to represent the story and my heroine.  As it states in the blurb, this story is about a lady who is treated poorly by her relatives and removed from such hardships by her spiritual godmother.   Johanna Cavanagh finds sanctuary, inner strength, and love on her journey.

While this book was with the editor and interior designer, I moved on to work on book two in the Witches of Griffin series.  I’m currently on page 119 and the words are flowing easily, which is always great!

Securing Sanctuary is the title of book two in the Witches of Griffin series.  The Griffin sisters find themselves searching for the Map to Sanctuary in the astral plane.  Meanwhile, a Native American Legend from the 17th century has seemed to come alive in their 21st century home.  With multiple tasks to complete for the Goddess Isis, the sisters find themselves at their breaking point when one of them becomes stuck in 1615 North Carolina.  As soon as book two is finished, I will begin working on publishing book one.  I’d like to release them fairly close together.  I do plan on creating book three as well and plot lines are already flowing through my brain.

I’m also thinking I’ll publish another one of my Historical Regencies, but I’m unsure which one to release.  It’s between a pirate story (The Lady Charmer, book 3 in the Bewildering Love series), a hero with a laudanum addiction (When Love Wins), or the story of a courtesan’s daughter simply called (The Courtesan’s Daughter).  The latter two do not have the second books written yet, although my goal is to make them series.

This has been what I’ve been working on in the past months.  I’m excited about my new release and look forward to reviews.  The story is character driven, and my hope is my readers will connect with the emotional ups and downs of the hero and heroine.  While I market The Wallflower’s Godmother, I plan to continue writing book two in my witches’ story.  Namaste.

Runaway Weddings
Published on May 5, 2015 by lahilden | Views: 1076

Gretna Green is a village located in south Scotland famous for runaway weddings.  People who partook in these weddings usually did so to avoid the prohibitions and legalities of England’s marriage laws.  In my new release, The Wallflower’s Godmother, the Earl of Dunford’s brother flees to Scotland to marry his ladylove in an effort to help her escape her abusive brother.

England’s Marriage Act of 1753 made a marriage null and void if the marriage took place without the reading of the banns or procuring a special license.  This law also stated that the marriage ceremony must be carried out publicly in a church or chapel with a clergyman, during the approved daylight hours.  No one under the age of twenty-one could marry without parental consent.  All marriages must be entered into record, which was usually a parish registry.

England’s Marriage Act of 1836 legalized marriages of Jews, Quakers, and Roman Catholics, who previously had to obtain approval to validate their marriage by having an Anglican ceremony.  This law also allowed people to marry in a registry office allowing them to conduct a civil marriage contract.

Prohibitions to Marriage:

A widower could not marry his wife’s sister, his niece by marriage, his stepdaughter, or his aunt by marriage.  A widow could not marry her husband’s brother.  A lunatic or crazy person could not marry unless lucid.

Due to the marriage laws some couples found it necessary to head for Scotland’s border where marriage laws were more lax.  In Scotland it was possible to marry at a young age, boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12, without parental consent.  The most favored location was Gretna Green.  Gretna Green’s location of being two miles over the border, along with the construction of the toll road in 1770’s, made this village easily accessible from London.

To accommodate the visitors seeking to strike the anvil, a local home was converted into an Inn called Gretna Hall in 1801.  Accounts from the time period claim that the men who performed these wedding ceremonies were seen as unprincipled in the town.  This in part could be due to the fact that these weddings were conducted speedily as there was a good chance parents were in hot pursuit of the elopers.  I assume it depends on who was conducting the ceremony, as true blacksmiths were respected tradesmen in their communities.  The term “striking the anvil” came into being as the blacksmith would strike an anvil after the ceremony, this also led to the officiators being referred to as “anvil priests.”  The weddings were done for a price, anywhere between 5 to 50 guineas, and then some were done for a pint of ale.  It all depended on your status and financial standing, and likely your manner toward the anvil priest.  There had to be two witnesses present during the quicky ceremony.  In the village of Gretna Green witnesses consisted of Gretna Green citizens, which often included a man named Joseph Paisley.  For 60 years Paisley officiated as Gretna Green’s parson.  The poor could not afford to make the trip to elope in Scotland, unless they were marrying someone with financial backing.  It is estimated in 1798 that 72 weddings took place at Gretna Green, although the average was around 45.

England’s Marriage Act of 1857 prohibited marriages to be conducted in Scotland unless one of the parties had lived in Scotland for three weeks prior to wedding.  The residential requirement was lifted in 1977.  Gretna Green remained a hot spot for weddings until 1940, when new laws forbid anyone other than clergy or an official registrar from conducting weddings.

Today, Gretna Green remains one of the world’s most popular wedding destinations and hosts over 5,600 weddings a year.  The most popular and hard to acquire venue is the “World Famous Old Blacksmith’s Shop,” called the Old Smithy.  It has three wedding rooms and each have an anvil.  It is also a tourist attraction and museum.

A special thank you to Kristine Hughes, Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England, , Roy and Lesley Adkins, Jane Austen’s England.

Horse Saddles in Regency England
Published on April 15, 2015 by L.A. Hilden | Views: 2576

In 18th century, English saddles often sported the high-pommel and cantle styles.  The high-pommel supplied the rider with support and so it was used for a variety of purposes, whether combat, long-distance travel, or cattle work.

As foxhunting grew in popularity in England, a new type of saddle was developed to help the rider complete jumps over hedges and ditches in an effort to keep up with the hounds.  The old saddle was too cumbersome to handle jumps over fences as the high-pommel would get in the way and hurt you.  Thus the low-pummel saddle came into existence, sporting a flat seat and no padding under the legs.

Over time the forward seat was developed, which had shorter stirrups and kept the rider’s legs under them instead of forward.  The waist of the saddle was also made narrower and additional padding was added for security beneath the knee rolls.

The dreaded and completely unsafe sidesaddle has undergone many transformations since its inception.  Ladies could not go about with their legs draped over the sides of a horse, how unseemly, plus her reproductive organs could be damaged from sitting in that manner.  And let us not forget that long skirts, which were the fashion, were not ideal for riding astride.  These were some of the reasons the sidesaddle came into being.  When women first began to ride on their own and not behind a man, they would sit sideways in a saddle, which was more of a stuffed chair with a footrest called a planchette.  These so-called saddles are credited to Anne of Bohemia in the 14th cen
tury.  They had a single pommel in front and allowed the rider no control over the horse.  The horse was led about by another rider or servant, at a slow pace.  It was during the 16th century when a more practical design was created.  Attributed to Catherine de Medici, the second horn was added, between which a lady could place a leg, allowing her to face forward and thus gain control of her own horse, instead of having others lead her about.  There were also many sidesaddles in the bullhorn design, where the right leg would rest. This two-horned sidesaddle remained in various forms throughout the centuries.  But not all women were willing to adapt to the sidesaddle, ladies like Marie Antoinette and Catherine the Great of Russia, refused to conform and rode astride.

Around 1835, the sidesaddle came to carry one or two pommels, with one turned up to support the right leg, some had a second, lower pommel called the leaping horn, which turned down over the left leg.  The second pommel was seen as revolutionary as now ladies could gallop and jump.

It was around 1830 that the balance strap was invented, which helped to keep the saddle firmly centered on the horse’s back.  The dip seat was also invented, which was far more comfortable than the previous flat seat.  Today, the sidesaddle is a symbol of days past, although they are still used in equestrian pageantry and disciplines.  There are those who wish to bring the long lost skill of riding with a sidesaddle back to the forefront, the article is below.


A special thank you to: and

Symbolism of the Shamrock
Published on March 15, 2015 by L.A. Hilden | Views: 2641

Common clovers are trifoliate, meaning they have three leaves.  On occasion, common clovers are found to carry four leaves, which are considered lucky.  A clover can also have five or six leaves, but these are rare.  The record clover was found in 2009 and it carried 56 leaves.  There are other three-leafed plants that are sometimes called clover.

The clover is used as a symbol of Ireland.  A shamrock is a young sprig of clover.  The three-leafed clover is associated with St. Patrick and his journey to bring Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century.  Legends claim that Saint Patrick used the natural triad of the clover to represent the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).  Clover grew in abundance in Ireland’s countryside’s, and was used to feed the livestock.  The three leaves are also symbolic of the theological virtues of Faith, Love, and Hope.  According to legend, Eve carried a four-leaf clover from the Garden of Eden to remind her of the happiness she enjoyed there.

The four-leaf clover is considered a good luck symbol because of its rarity. Ancient Druids used the clover as a protective herb, and they considered it symbolic with the verities of Earth, Sea, and Sky.  To the ancients, the four-leafed clover was seen as a charm against snakes, witches, and the devil.  It was believed to give the carrier of the clover second sight, which permitted them to see fairies.  In the 17th century, four-leafed clovers were put in the bride’s path to protect her from evils on her special day.  The four-leafed clover came to symbolize faith, hope, love, and luck, although many believed the luck only came if the clover was found accidentally.  Some claimed the luck could be had by placing the clover in your shoe, while others choose to preserve the hard to find clovers between the pages of the family Bible.

Clovers were also used as a diuretic and brewed for tea.  Clovers are edible and can be added to salads.  They are a good source of protein.  Clovers are native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa; they were introduced to America by early settlers.


A special thank you to and Richard Webster The Encyclopedia of Superstitions.