Tag Archives: D.W. Bradbridge

The Little Known Exploits of the 17th Century Lady Derby: Guest Article by D.W. Bradbridge

Have you heard of Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, the Countess of Derby?

by D.W. Bradbridge, author of A Soldier of Substance

Unless you are either an expert on the English Civil War or were brought up in the town of Ormskirk in Northern England, it is unlikely that you will have ever heard of Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, the Countess of Derby.

In itself, this is perhaps not surprising, for, in the grand scheme of things, her role in the Civil War was of minor importance both strategically and politically. Nonetheless, the dramatic nature of her valiant defence of Lathom House during the Spring of 1644 with only three hundred men against a vastly superior parliamentary force, is a story well worth telling.

Not that I am the first to think this. Until the end of the 19th century, the tale of Lady Derby’s exploits retained a much more prominent position within the British national consciousness, spawning a number of popular books and poems, just about none of which have stood the test of time. The best known of these is William Harrison Ainsworth’s novel The Leaguer of Lathom.

Historically, it suited many of those writing about the siege to portray Lady Derby as a defenceless woman, who loyally defended her husband’s house against evil and heartless oppressors, as this fitted in closer with prevailing views on morality and the role of women. It is, however, clear that Lady Derby was nothing like this. She was clearly a woman of steel with impressive negotiating skills, who proved herself able to run rings round the parliamentary officers with whom she crossed swords. In his 1991 book on the siege To Play the Man, Lancashire historian Colin Pilkington describes her as being ‘as devious as Elizabeth I, as inflexible as Mrs Thatcher and with the physical presence of an Amazon.’Lady Derby, who was a granddaughter of William of Orange (William the Silent) and a cousin of Prince Rupert, was most certainly not a woman to be trifled with.

Lady Derby’s strength was certainly recognised at the time of the siege. She waseulogised by those on the royalist side, and readily compared in the newssheets with her husband, the Earl of Derby. The Perfect Diurnall, for example, described her as being “of the two a better souldier”, whilst the Scottish Dove newspaper famously pointed out that she had “stolen the earl’s breeches”.

Charlotte_Countess_derby

Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, the Countess of Derby / Anthony Van Dyck (1599 – 1641) – Frick Collection, New York / Wiki

Most of the eye witness accounts of the siege were written by royalists, so it is easy to be misled. However, the overriding impression given by these documents is of a supremely confident woman holding court, whilst being ably aided by a team of efficient professional soldiers and wise strategic advisors, such as her personal chaplain Samuel Rutter, who was responsible for fooling the besieging forces into thinking that the thing Lady Derbymost feared was a siege, whereas the Countess was perfectly well aware that only a direct assault on the garrison would be likely to succeed. It is no surprise that Sir Thomas Fairfax, initially in charge of the siege, and notoriously unable to deal with women in the strict manner necessary in a military negotiation, took the first opportunity to return to Yorkshire, leaving the siege in the hands of the inept Colonel Alexander Rigby.

Over the last hundred years, the details surrounding the First Siege of Lathom House (there were, in fact, two sieges) have gradually drifted into the backwaters of history.This is a shame, because the events which took place between March and May 1644 make up a captivating adventure story. Given the abject incompetence of the parliamentary forces at times, they would also, in my opinion, form the basis for an engaging comedy film – but that is another story. In any case, I make no apologies for purloining this piece of history as the basis for A Soldier of Substance.

A Soldier of Substance, Synopsis and Info~

02_A Solder of Substance CoverPublication Date: November 1, 2014
Valebridge Publications
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 470

Series: Daniel Cheswis Mystery
Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads Link 

1644.

The smoke of parliamentary musket, cannon, and mortar fire is in the air around the royalist stronghold of Lathom House. Though guards still stand atop its walls, it is besieged on all sides, and it is only a matter of time until the house, along with its embittered and unwavering countess, Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, falls to Parliament’s might. Yet somehow, a royalist spy still creeps, unseen, through its gates, and brings the countess Parliament’s secrets.

Barely recovered from the trials of the last few months, Daniel Cheswis is torn from his family and sent north, to uncover the identity of the traitor; though before he can even begin, Cheswis finds himself embroiled in a murder. A woman has been garrotted with cheese wire in her Chester home, suggesting there is more than just the usual hatreds of war at play.

As lives are lost and coats are turned on both sides, Cheswis is tasked with finding the murderer, uncovering the traitor, and surviving his soldierly duty long enough to see Lathom House fall.

Buy the Book~

Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author, D.W. Bradbridge~

03_Author D.W. BradbridgeD.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.

“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.

“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?

“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”

For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/asoldierofsubstanceblogtour

Hashtags: #ASoldierofSubstanceBlogTour #HistoricalMystery #HistFic

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @DWBradbridge

04_A Soldier of Substance_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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A Soldier of Substance by D.W. Bradbridge Delivers on All Historical and Mystery Level. Very descriptive!

02_A Solder of Substance Cover

Review~

I was thrilled to read D.W. Bradbridge’s second book, A Soldier of Substance, after reading his first book called A Winter’s Siege and loving it (click on the title to read that former review). He’s a superb writer–very intricate, detailed, yet entertaining, as well as vibrant, suspenseful, and of course, the use of wonderful vocabulary always wins points with me. As well he has a way of capturing in pristine fashion a time and place based on historical research mixed with a bit of imagination.

With A Soldier of Substance he completely delivered on all those levels and beyond. I was completely compelled by where the story might be going from very early on. He intricately wove plot points together with surprises and twists that made me smile or sit up straighter, urging me on to read this animated murder mystery that also carried with it an enormous amount of historical intrigue just right for some long nights of reading. I was swept away by his descriptions and immersed in Daniel Cheswis–the main character who is the constable from the first book turned detective, spy, and now possible cheese vendor–and his adventures in a way that made me want to be his right hand woman. I suppose the cheese had something to do with that as well…I mean I am a lover of cheese. *smile*

Speaking of cheese, the setting of Chester, with their Cheshire cheese, was like historical heaven for me! I LOVED the historical tidbits and his particulars of the setting really astounded me and made me a very happy reader. Taking place in the late 1600s I really enjoyed learning about the “row” system in Chester, where the residential houses were lined in front by the merchant shops, as well as each of the various merchant areas such as the Buttershops Row (where the Seaman family comes into play, of whom many Bradbridge fictionalized except William Seaman who was actually the person first recorded to have a shipment of Cheshire cheese), Bakers Row (his details made my mouth water), Mercers’ Row, and so on. I really enjoyed how he gave me enough to allow a proper picture in my head. I was captivated by the specifications he meandered me through during dinner parties, those of which he made me jealous I was not in attendance, and yet, he also had amazing characterization and fashion sense of the time. I loved all the supporting characters–they were very well done and Bradbridge did a super job of giving each an air of mysteriousness.

Of course these are just the type of additives that Bradbridge includes surrounding several plots that are intertwined as smooth as spreading cream cheese. There is the intrigue and suspense factor, with the Royalists versus the Parliament sympathizers and their preparation for and subsequent siege of Lathom House, run by Lady Derby. The various spy “tools” and tricks that were strewn through the story were so original and creative that I found myself quite pleased, sometimes more than even when reading my beloved Bond novels. I think Bradbridge utilized some of the most unique spy and mystery methods for clues than I’ve read in any other historical mystery. I would list some of my favorites he used, but I don’t want to give away any of your own reading excitement.

As for the mystery, of which a woman is murdered with a cheese wire, that was also very well done and he certainly kept me guessing up to the end. I was held in suspense as he carried me away to the military tents and maneuvers, which was also excellent in terms of historical and military accuracy as well as details, while dropping clues along the way to entice my mind. It takes quite a bit for my mind not to wander and I have to say it never did in regards to this mystery.

This would make such a fun Masterpiece Theatre mystery movie or mini-series! Living in America, it was interesting to read about these smaller parts of British history and civil war that we don’t often hear about here. I really like how Bradbridge, in both of his books, really delves into the history of the region where he lives and brings history to life.

A Soldier of Substance is an entertaining historical mystery that makes for a perfect weekend, coupled with Ye Olde Cheshire cheese, crackers, and a glass of Bordeaux! This novel has excellent and precise writing and impressive period details!

A Soldier of Substance, Synopsis~

02_A Solder of Substance CoverPublication Date: November 1, 2014
Valebridge Publications
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 470

Series: Daniel Cheswis Mystery
Genre: Historical Mystery

Add to GoodReads

It’s 1644.

The smoke of parliamentary musket, cannon, and mortar fire is in the air around the royalist stronghold of Lathom House. Though guards still stand atop its walls, it is besieged on all sides, and it is only a matter of time until the house, along with its embittered and unwavering countess, Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, falls to Parliament’s might. Yet somehow, a royalist spy still creeps, unseen, through its gates, and brings the countess Parliament’s secrets.

Barely recovered from the trials of the last few months, Daniel Cheswis is torn from his family and sent north, to uncover the identity of the traitor; though before he can even begin, Cheswis finds himself embroiled in a murder. A woman has been garrotted with cheese wire in her Chester home, suggesting there is more than just the usual hatreds of war at play.

As lives are lost and coats are turned on both sides, Cheswis is tasked with finding the murderer, uncovering the traitor, and surviving his soldierly duty long enough to see Lathom House fall.

Buy the Book~

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Author D.W. Bradbridge, Biography~

03_Author D.W. BradbridgeD.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.

“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.

“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?

“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”

For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/asoldierofsubstanceblogtour

Hashtags: #ASoldierofSubstanceBlogTour #HistoricalMystery #HistFic
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @DWBradbridge

04_A Soldier of Substance_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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Townsfolk Caught in 17th Century Strife and Crafting a Proper Mystery: Interview with D.W. Bradbridge

I’m excited for this interview today with D.W. Bradbridge! His book, The Winter Siege, is a well-told 17th Century mystery with the background of local history during a very tumultuous time. You can see my review from yesterday, HERE. He was a pleasure to talk with and he’s given us some very inside knowledge of his research, his book, his writing, and much more. Enjoy!

Hi D.W.! Thanks for coming by Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I have been looking forward to talking with you! The Winter Siege has been the perfect read for me right now, as in Ohio we are covered in snow! How are you faring overseas?

D.W.: Thanks for inviting me, Erin. I appreciate it. I think the weather in the UK has been a lot milder than you’ve had it in the US. Nevertheless, we had our annual battle re-enactment celebration in Nantwich on Saturday and we were hit with thunder, lightning and a huge hailstorm. I think I prefer, the snow, to be honest.

Erin: I’d prefer snow to that too!! And I don’t mind a soft snow much, but we’ve been having temps in the -40 degrees with wind chill and my kids are working on the fourth day missed of school! Yes! I’d love to have a sit down in your favorite bookstore, with a cup of steaming tea and discuss some fabulous topics…history, books, writing…and certainly YOUR book!

D.W.: You’re very welcome, my local bookstore in Nantwich is very friendly and makes a great cup of tea!

Erin:  Wonderful. I’d love an English Breakfast Tea. Let’s get started!

The Winter Siege

Q:  I know you have a long-standing love of genealogy and local history!  How did that inspire you to write your book and are either one of those two things involved in your storyline in The Winter Siege?

A: I was brought up in Bolton, which is about 60 miles from Nantwich, but my mother always used to tell me about her Cheshire ancestors. When I moved to Nantwich 14 years ago, I started to research our local history and it was then that I realized that the English Civil War battle that took place in these parts provided a fascinating story that needed to be told. Genealogy itself does not play a role in the story, although I do have a Cheswis in my family tree.

Q:  Why do you think it is important to share and tell the ‘lost stories’ of people in history? As many as have been told, there are still so many to draw upon. What can their stories teach the next generation?

A: I think the character of a town can be moulded by the inhabitants’ collective experience over time. The events that took place in Nantwich during the winter of 1643-44 must have been incredibly traumatic for the people who lived there, and it’s worth pointing out that, had things turned out differently for local populace, Nantwich would probably be a very different place today. What I got most out of discovering this story was tremendous respect for the fortitude of the townsfolk of Nantwich during the siege. I think it’s worthwhile thinking about the contribution previous generations have made from time to time.

Q:  How much research went into The Winter Siege?  What interesting tidbit did you come across that surprised you?

A: Historical accuracy was important to me, so I read just about every contemporary account of the battle, as well as carrying out other research such as looking into the role of the village constable in the 17th century, the structure of the salt trade in Cheshire and the history of Cheshire cheese. I think the aspect of the English Civil War that will surprise most people is the fact that support for King or Parliament was never black and white. Although Nantwich was largely parliamentarian in its sympathies, there were still plenty of royalists about.

Erin: Did you say Cheshire cheese??! Yum! And yes, that is true and I see your point. It seems many took the side that best ensured their survival. All lines were muddy.

Q:  Is your book fairly historically accurate or does it run more as a fictional crime drama set during a point in history?

A: What I’ve tried to do is to create a very accurate and detailed historical framework to the novel and then weave a fictional murder plot around the real events. History offers only a partial snapshot of what happened at any given point in time, and is often seen through eyes that are biased in some way. So what I’ve tried to do is to create a “what-if” scenario. Many of the episodes in the book – even some of the minor ones, actually happened, but it’s for the reader to decide what is real and what is fiction.

Q:  In reality, how did the people within Nantwich fare during this ‘lockdown’ period of their life, where they were caught between two intense factions vying for power?

A: The siege itself must have been a pretty miserable experience, especially towards the end of the siege when food began to run out. But at least they had roofs over their heads. The besieging royalists would have largely camped out in the open air in freezing temperatures. I won’t spoil the story by revealing what happens, but I think, in retrospect and given different circumstances, things could have been much worse for the people of Nantwich than they actually were.

Q:  How long was your process to complete your novel? What were some of your challenges and some milestones or success you had in working on it?

A: It took about two years from start to finish. For my day job I run a small publishing company producing business magazines for the tire industry, so my biggest challenge was seeing whether I could transpose the skills I had learned as a journalist into a completely different kind of writing. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether I’ve been successful .

Erin:  It seems you have! I struggle with that myself quite a bit actually. I have an issue getting into my creative writing due to my structured journalist style. I am also curious to hear how others make the transformation.

Q:  How did you create your lead protagonist and his characteristics? Was he based on someone from history, a person you know, did he just appear to you….?

A: It was important to me to create a lead character who the reader would care about and, indeed, who I would care about, but he had to be a real character with flaws – so Daniel is somewhat reserved, wants to please too many people at times and has some obsessive-compulsive traits. He also compromises himself professionally out of misguided loyalty to one of his friends. To be honest, the basis of his character was formed at the start of the creative process, but he developed naturally as the book went on.

Q:  What do you feel worked for you well in terms of preparing and completing your historical novel? How did you keep the historical aspect and the plotted mystery all straight in your mind and on paper?

A: All writers are different in how they prepare their work. I spent the weekend with two other writers who told me they don’t prepare a structure to their novels at all – they just let the plot flow. I’m a planner though, so I prepared a template of the plot split into chapters, then filled in the historical details in note form before sitting down and writing the story. This helped me with the convoluted plot line as well as with the pacing of the novel. For me it was like filling in a tapestry.

Q:  What other time periods or situations in history do you favor?  Have you thought about writing on any of them?

A: I have plans to write a novel set in Mauritius during the Napoleonic Wars but that’s a long way off. My plans for the next few years are to follow the fortunes of Daniel Cheswis and his friend s and family as they negotiate the rest of the English Civil War. The sequel to The Winter Siege will be called A Soldier of Substance and will hopefully be published towards the end of the year.

Erin: I like the sounds of both of those!

Q:  You seem like you’ve been having a great time publicizing and promoting your book at bookstores and so forth. Very creative! How does it feel to have completed a goal or fulfilled a dream?

A: Fantastic! It’s a real sense of achievement, especially talking to people who’ve read the book. But the job is only half done. Being a self-published author, I now have to take on the task of marketing the book properly.

Q:  Where can readers or fellow writers connect with you?

A: Via my website http://dwbradbridge.com or via e-mail at dw@dwbradbridge.com. I’m always happy to connect with readers or fellow writers.

Q:  Where can you books be bought in the US, UK, and internationally?

A: In the US via Amazon and Smashwords. The book is also available through a number of independent bookstores in the UK and those are listed on my website.

Erin:  Thank you so much, D.W., for sharing a bit of your world with me and my readers! And I love the cover of your novel too, by the way! Very attention grabbing! I wish you best of luck in future writing endeavors. Stay in touch!

D.W.: Thank you. I certainly will. It’s been great talking to you.

The Winter Siege, Synopsis~

The Winter SiegePublication Date: October 1, 2013
Electric Reads
Paperback; 488p
ISBN-10: 1492795712

1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.

While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.

When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.

He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.

With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.

When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?

Buy Links

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Author D.W. Bradbridge, Biography~

D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.

“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.

“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?

“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”

For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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