No Tea No Shade . . . King Charles II’s Queen Did NOT Introduce Tea to England, But She Made It Fashionable

So, here’s the skinny: Catherine of Braganza (wife of England’s King Charles II) loved tea, but she cannot be credited for introducing tea to the British. Catherine did, however, almost single-handedly turn tea into widely consumed and very fashionable beverage. Where did Catherine’s penchant for tea come from? Portugal. After all she was a Portuguese…

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Point of Ignition: Where the Great Fire of London REALLY Started

For precisely 350 years, everyone in England believed that Pudding Lane was THE London hotspot—the place, on the property of Thomas Farriner’s bakery, that the Great Fire of London sparked. Then a historian and House of Commons Clerk said nope, not so. Yes, the Great Fire began—as generations of British school children had learned—on the…

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Worst Beauty Product EVER

History is fascinating, frustrating, and occasionally downright gross.1 In And By Fire—while my modern-day police detectives are chasing a murderous arsonist creating sculptures from burnt flesh—a pair of 17th century amateur detectives search for a friend gone missing during London’s Great Fire. During that hunt, Margaret Dove (a lady-in-waiting to the queen) and Etienne Belland…

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1666: The Devil’s New Year

Happy New Year all! Here we are at the start of 2022 in the midst of a pandemic. Gloomy times for sure. But at least we aren’t fearful of the violent wrath of God (are we?). In that we have an advantage over many residents of London at the start of the year 1666. If…

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London’s Great Fire—A Selection of Fearsome Facts

The Great Fire of London was an event of HISTORIC proportions. While researching the 17th century timeline in AND BY FIRE, I read a collection of exceptional books on the Fire. In fact, let me drop a footnote in here with a couple of recommendations for those of you who would enjoy a deep dive…

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Sir Christopher Wren’s Stamp on a NEW London

In 1666 when London caught fire, Christopher Wren wasn’t the city’s most famous architect—not by a long shot. Just thirty-three years old, Wren was considered an amateur in the field, albeit a passionate one. His actual job was as a Professor of Astronomy at Oxford (where he’d also been commissioned to design and build a…

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Helping London Rise Again . . . Allegorically

While London’s Monument to the Great Fire is, as a whole, splendid, its most significant artistic element is Caius Gabriel Cibber’s stunning bas-relief stone panel on its West face. So lets have a closer look (see, told you in my Monument Post that I’d get back to it). Cibber’s carving is allegorical, depicting post-Great-Fire London…

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London Circa 1666—oh the smell!

And By Fire is a dual timeline crime novel. While Nigella and O’Leary race around modern London trying to stop a brutal killer, a second pair of unlikely detectives (a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker) search for a missing friend—a bookseller who disappeared into the smoke of London’s Great Fire some…

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