My next book, My Favorite Countess, will be released on May 3rd. The hero of this book, John Blackmore, is a bit of a departure for me. He’s a Regency physician, and you can read more about my inspiration for him here.
Like today’s doctors, Regency physicians often worked in hospitals as well as attending to their own practices. That’s the case with John, who administers to high-born members of the ton as well as working in a large hospital in London. In fact, I chose the oldest hospital in the city for John – St. Bartholomew’s in Smithfield. St. Bartholomew’s or, Bart’s, is actually the oldest surviving hospital in England, and holds great historical and architectural value.
It was founded in 1123 by Rahere, an Augustinian who suffered a malarial attack while on pilgrimage to Rome and had vowed to build a hospital when he returned to England. The picture above is of the famous King Henry VIII gateway, built in 1702 by Edward Strong. The stone statue of Henry is by Frances Bird, and is apparently the only public statue of that monarch in the city. On an adjoining wall is a plaque to William Wallace, who was executed nearby in 1305.
Over the years, there were a significant number of architectural and cultural beauties added to the grounds and the buildings, including the inner courtyard and the Great Hall.
The hospital was rebuilt in four blocks around this inner courtyard in the 18th century, and would have looked much like the above illustration when my hero, Dr. John, was attending to his patients.
Bart’s is also home to not one but two magnificent paintings by Hogarth, who was appointed a governor of the hospital in 1734. Apparently, the hospital originally intended to commission art from Italy. Hogarth, annoyed that the administrators would choose Italian painters, donated these two murals instead. The one depicted below is called The Pool of Bethesda, and depicts Christ healing the sick. The mural figures in a scene in my book, as the place of reconciliation between my hero John and my heroine, the fiery-tempered Bathsheba.
St. Bartholomew’s survived the Great Fire of London and The Blitz, and is a grand historical and cultural institution. And it continues to be one of England’s best hospitals, with a medical school and a renowned international reputation. For anyone interested in the history of London or of medicine, it is well worth the visit.
To celebrate the upcoming release of my book, I’ll be running some fun contests in March and April. Today, I’m giving away signed cover flats of all four of my books: Mastering The Marquess, Sex And The Single Earl, An Invitation To Sin, My Favorite Countess. Just leave a comment telling me who’s your favorite fictional doctor from either books, TV shows or movies. Is it Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy? Or how about one of the crew from E.R?
And don’t forget to check out the great contest I’m running all month on my website. I’m giving away ARCS of My Favorite Countess, as well as tee shirts and tote bags!