Tag Archives: Wimer

Lovely review to wake up to :)

I’ve been having some success selling Sheriff and Priest (my first historical novel, telling the story of a real Saxon man who rose to a position of power in Norman England) in the US, but sales don’t often turn into reviews.

And reviews can definitely drive sales, as people feel comfortable about investing their money in a decent read. [Hint – PLEASE review anything you read. It doesn’t need to be long or deep; a sentence or two saying what you liked is fine.]

So I was very pleased to find this on Amazon.com today; thank you, Francophile 🙂

June 25, 2019

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

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Paul Bennet reviews Sheriff & Priest

Many thanks to Paul Bennett for this fabulous review!

Historical Fiction reviews


It’s been nigh on 90 years since the Normans came to stay and to rule, and it was a tough time to grow up a Saxon.  Wimer, though is made of stern stuff and survives the second class treatment meted out by the Norman elite.  His intelligence and adaptability such that he can rub shoulders with and become friends with the future Henry II.

Once again, I found myself immersed in a period of time that I’m not that familiar with.  A time of Sheriffs and the fiduciary demands of the King and the Church.  Ahh, the Church, a subject that at once fascinates and infuriates me.  Wimer is caught up in the fervor of reaching heaven, not only for himself as a priest but for those he cares for in that capacity.  An unfortunate set of circumstances and a bitter feud between Henry and his Archbishop Thomas a’Becket has…

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Launch Day!

Today is The Day!

Both paperback and e-book versions are available on all Amazon sites (and are even linked together, after a bit of fighting with dragons), and the ebook is trickling out onto the wider distribution sites – currently available on Kobo and Indigo but not a couple of the others.

We are GO!

There is so much you could do to help make the launch successful:

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I wanted to be a writer when I grew up…

A guest article I wrote on the subject: http://www.withoutbooks.com/when-asked-im-proud-to-say-im-a-writer/ My friend Amy Burns Heffernan has a fascinating and growing blog on all things writerly, with a good sprinkling of guest posts, at her blog “Without books… life would be dull!” – I love her concept, and am proud to be asked to contribute.   Nicky.

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The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182

2014-ChristmasPartyBlogHop Apologies – you need this link! https://nickymoxey.com/2014/12/19/the-feast-of-the-epiphany-1182/


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The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182

2014-ChristmasPartyBlogHopThe Christmas Season (whatever your belief or religion)
is the time for merry-making and parties…
So come and join some wonderful authors (and their characters)

for an Online Virtual Party!

Browse through a variety of Blogs (hopping forward to the next one on the list)
for a veritable feast of entertainment!
(And just as with any good party, you’ll find
a few giveaway prizes along the way!)

The following is a scene from my forthcoming book, Wimer the Chaplain, in which Henry ll dispenses his own brand of Christmas cheer…

Henry drained his mead cup, and leant back in his throne, belching gently. Ah – good stuff! He rubbed his full stomach. How pleasant it is not to be at loggerheads with either my sons, or the Church. I must be slipping. He looked round the crowded hall for those of his children present at this feast – a task made more difficult as many of the diners grew sated, and moved around to chat to old friends seated in different parts of the hall.

Easy to spot was his one legitimate son; John was still eating, hunched over his trencher, clad in a fine lambswool tunic. On closer inspection, there was a dark stain on his sleeve, which was shorter than it should be. Henry shook his head. The boy was going through a period of growth, making him even more morose than usual, and clumsy as a puppy. Please God it be over soon.

Also still seated, a few places further than John, was his acknowledged natural son, Geoffrey, whom Henry had recently elevated to Chancellor. He too had pushed back from the table, and, goblet in hand, was surveying the room. Of all my children, he is the one who can be most trusted, and the only one who consistently uses his intellect to my advantage. What a shame he can’t inherit! But he is a magnificent servant, and will continue to serve his brothers. Henry smiled proudly, and looked again for the least of his sons.

It’s a shame that none of the girls are here – it would have been good to have them, and their children, as playmates for young William. Henry spotted the boy in a corner, teasing a wolfhound pup with a bone. He’s taller than I remembered – he must be, what, five? Perhaps six? Definitely time to take him from his mother and get him some decent tutoring. He was very like Ida in colouring. She was rarely far from him – yes, there she is, leaning against the table, watching the boy. Looking a little careworn. This, too, is in my service – she has been at my side whenever I’ve beckoned for many years now. I should make some better provision for her…

The thought of losing one mistress brought his Rosamund to mind. He was going to make another gift to Godstow Nunnery when he distributed presents shortly. He urgently wanted to arrange the best possible provision for her, body and soul, and to minimise her time in Purgatory with prayers around the clock. There was the Abbess – hah! With young Roger Bigod sandwiched between her and the Abbot of Stratford Abbey, a Godly man indeed, but a crashing bore; and to be another recipient of Henry’s generosity later.

Bigod looked as though he was bearing up well to the double onslaught of piety. No, be fair – he was making himself useful whilst waiting on Henry’s pleasure for his inheritance, witnessing charter after charter. In fact, he could witness the charters to the two religious houses. He is at least easier to spend time around than his father had been, and possibly more honourable too. Not that he was going to get his Earldom back, nor indeed the bulk of his lands, until Henry was a lot surer of him. Perhaps he was owed something on account, though…

Henry slapped his slight but growing paunch, and leapt to his feet. He used the momentum to swing up onto the table and over to the other side. Not bad for a man past the best flush of youth, my lad! The noise level dropped gratifyingly fast, and soon even the servitors were still, having topped up everyone’s drinks.

“My friends! We come to the end of another Christmas, and another year. And what a year it has been! We are at peace; reconciled with our Scottish and Welsh neighbours, and with Philip the new King of France. My son Henry the Young King is even now supporting Philip, and though we miss him greatly, it is an honourable task. My sons Richard and Geoffrey are firmly in control of their realms; my daughters all contributing towards the succession of their husbands.
I am blessed with three sons here with me tonight, and am surrounded by my friends. I would like to share some of these blessings, and distribute some gifts, as is my custom.”

He beckoned over the servitor with his small chest, and put it on the table.
“I start with the Church, as is proper.”
He took two charters from the chest, opened one, and laid the other on the table.
“Would the Abbess of Godstow please come here?”
The elderly nun bumbled up, and curtsied twice in front of the King. Henry bowed low, and handed her the charter with a smile.
“The lands, as promised, good Abbess. “
“We will pray for her, Sire.” she whispered.
Henry nodded formal acknowledgement, then returned to his task, a little subdued.
“The Abbot of Stratford!” The Abbot accepted his charter gratefully.

“And now, my beloved son John.”
John stood, a trifle unsteadily. Henry realised that he’d taken a little too much wine, and moved down the table towards him, rather than embarrass the boy. He turned back to the room.
“I thought long and hard about a gift for John. I rejected clothes; because he’s growing so fast that he’d need a new set next week.”
There was a ripple of amusement, and John blushed.
“I’d give him money; but he’d only ask for more. I’ve raised sons his age before.”
This time there was some outright laughter.
“Instead, I wanted to give him something to connect him to his heritage.”
He stripped off a ring from the middle finger on his right hand, and held it up to the crowd. The large emerald caught the light nicely.
“This ring belonged to my father, and to his father before him. I think John has grown into it now.”
He turned to his son, and slipped it on his finger.
“Wear it in good health!”
John bowed, looking a little underawed. Henry shook his head slightly, and went back to the chest.

“For my beloved Chancellor; a Book of Hours! Having just missed out on the Bishopric of Lincoln, he will need to sharpen his praying skills for his next attempt at the cloth…”
He lifted out a gorgeous book, wrapped in purple silk. Geoffrey took it reverently in both hands, and unwrapped it to reveal a gold and jewelled frontispiece.
“Sire! This is magnificent! My profound thanks!”

“And for my youngest son, William…”
William needed beckoning forward, this being the first time that Henry had singled him out in public. He watched with pride as the boy strode forward, carefully put out a foot, and bowed low.
“How old are you now, boy?”
“I am six, Sire.”
“High time you had one of these, then.”
Henry handed him a short dagger, snug in its own tooled leather sheath and belt. The boy crowed in delight, and strapped it on instantly. He looked round to show his mother. Henry followed his gaze, and bent to whisper to the boy,
“Go and fetch her.”

He ran across, and pulled her over; she arrived in front of Henry laughing and protesting, then dropped into a deep curtsey. He put a finger under her chin, and lifted her up.
“Not forgetting William’s mother, the Lady Ida; a length of that very expensive silk she loves so much.”
She blushed prettily, and curtsied again. Henry looked around for Roger.
“Stay here, my dear; Roger Bigod, step up, please.”

He waited until Roger had bowed and taken a place beside Ida.
“I am not yet ready to pass judgement on your stepbrothers’ claim to your father’s lands and title; but in recognition of your services these last few years, I am returning to you the manors of Acle, Halvergate and South Walsham.”
Roger bowed again, looking suitably grateful.
“And one other gift, greater than you know. The hand of the Lady Ida de Tosny, Royal ward, in marriage.”

There. A neat discharge of my obligations.

“Raise your cups, my friends! To Christmas cheer!”

Thank you for joining our party

now follow on to the next enjoyable entertainment…

  1. Helen Hollick : “You are Cordially Invited to aBall”(plus a giveaway prize) –  http://tinyurl.com/nsodv78
  2. Alison Morton :“Saturnalia surprise – a winter party tale” (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/op8fz57
  3. Andrea Zuvich : No Christmas For You! The Holiday Under Cromwell – http://tinyurl.com/pb9fh3m
  4. Ann Swinfen : Christmas 1586 – Burbage’s Company of Players Celebrates – http://tinyurl.com/mwaukkx
  5. Anna Belfrage : All I want for Christmas (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/okycz3o
  6. Carol Cooper : How To Be A Party Animal – http://wp.me/p3uiuG-Mn
  7. Clare Flynn :  A German American Christmas – http://tinyurl.com/mmbxh3r
  8. Debbie Young :  Good Christmas Housekeeping (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/mbnlmy2
  9. Derek Birks :  The Lord of Misrule – A Medieval Christmas Recipe for Trouble – http://wp.me/p3hedh-3f
  10. Edward James : An Accidental Virginand An Uninvited Guest – http://tinyurl.com/o3vowum and – http://tinyurl.com/lwvrxnx 
  11. Fenella J. Miller : Christmas on the Home front(plus a giveaway prize) – http://fenellamiller.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/christmas-on-home-front-and-giveaway.html
  12. J. L. Oakley :  Christmas Time in the Mountains 1907(plus a giveaway prize) –  http://bit.ly/1v3uRYy
  13. Jude Knight : Christmas at Avery Hall in the Year of Our Lord 1804 – http://wp.me/p58yDd-az
  14. Julian Stockwin: Join the Party – http://tinyurl.com/n8xk946
  15. Juliet Greenwood : Christmas 1914 on the Home Front(plus a giveaway) – http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-1914-on-the-home-front/
  16. Lauren Johnson :  Farewell Advent, Christmas is come” – Early Tudor Festive Feasts – http://wp.me/p1aZWT-ei
  17. Lindsay Downs : O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – ​http://lindsaydowns-romanceauthor.weebly.com/
  18. Lucienne Boyce : A Victory Celebration – http://tinyurl.com/ovl4sus
  19. Nancy Bilyeau :  Christmas After the Priory(plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/p52q7gl
  20. Nicola Moxey : The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182 – http://tinyurl.com/pewcu6f
  21. Peter St John :  Dummy’s Birthday – http://tinyurl.com/nsqedvv
  22. Regina Jeffers : Celebrating a Regency Christmas (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/pt2yvzs
  23. Richard Abbott : The Hunt – Feasting at Ugarit – http://bit.ly/1wSK2b5
  24. Saralee Etter : Christmas Pudding — Part of the Christmas Feast – http://tinyurl.com/lyd4d7b
  25. Stephen Oram : Living in your dystopia: you need a festival of enhancement…(plus a giveaway prize) – http://wp.me/p4lRC7-aG
  26. Suzanne Adair :The British Legion Parties Down for Yule 1780 (plus a giveaway prize)  http://bit.ly/1r9qnUZ

Thank you for joining us 


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I have been researching reliquaries at the moment – well, the current endpoint of the research is reliquaries, which are delightful! Serendipity may still take me elsewhere…
The trail led from a procedural question over the ordination of a deacon – which Wimer became, before becoming a priest – to a realisation that he would have loved the deaconate, because of its association with the Gospels, and the Deacon’s role in reading the Gospels to the people. He would also have hated the requirement to sing part of the sermon, so would have wanted to become a priest as soon as possible!
Then I moved on to his ordination as a priest, and discovered as part of the reading around that, the requirement for every Catholic altar to have within it a relic from a saint – preferably a martyr. This holds to this day, which I am amazed by.
Relics led on to reliquaries – and what lovely things some of them were! The first one I fell in love with was this beauty, made at exactly the right time. I loved its colours and vivacity first, then realised that it was made to hold relics from Thomas a’Beckett – whom Wimer could not stand. Being excommunicated twice by someone does that to you…

So of course the casket, and its relics, had to fall into his hands; and then he had to swap it somehow for a set of relics from someone he’d be comfortable with. I found this nice shape:
And then discovered the right saint. Meet St Walstan, the Saxon-born patron saint of crops, healer of animals.

This is beginning to come together… I’ve now stopped trawling the web for images of reliquaries, and am off to write the scene when he discovers the right reliquary for his Priory-to-be!


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I love this editor…

Work gave me a prorata’d bonus this year – the amount wasn’t enough to do any of the big projects I’d like to do. Also tipping the balance was the fact that yet another agent had inhaled the query and first few pages of Wimer, and then faded into a black hole once they’d had the full manuscript. So, I blew my bonus this year an a editor.

The next issue, of course, was which one? And having chosen one, what’s the name for the kind of editing I needed? I liked the look of one recommended by, I think, Writers Village – although don’t quote me on that – and sent her an email. The response was quick, friendly, professional; she asked enough questions for us to decide that I didn’t need a copy editor, nor anyone to check the historical facts, and that she could help me.

So, I sent my baby off into the void, and contemplated my fingernails. On time, the report came back; 11 pages of carefully reasoned advice, interspersed with humour and compassion. The verdict; I can write – but the story is lacking conflict and is often from the wrong POV. These things I can fix – and I’ve never had the experience of laughing out loud whilst being clipped around the ear before!

This lady will get more of my custom:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Hilary-Johnson-Authors-Advisory-Service/135740463266239


Thanks, Hilary!


I hope you enjoy my books as much as I loved writing them! Here’s my Amazon page.

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I have been on holiday this week, mostly to celebrate the close of the shooting season and the consequent opening of the archaeology season (Yay! The Glorious 2nd!). Not, to be fair, that I have lacked archaeology over this winter. Anyway, Saturday – the last day of the shoot – was a glorious day, and I decided to get well out of the way, and visit Framlingham and Orford castles.

Orford I have visited several times whilst researching Wimer, but I have been sniffy about Framlingham, because what remains is later than I’ve been interested in. However, the Wimer sequel is in the right timeframe, so I decided to go along; then to drive from Framlingham to Orford, a direct trip I haven’t made before.

Visiting Framlingham was useful for scale, and for viewpoints. The encircling ditches were never filled with water, being a dry route for soldiers to move unseen around the perimeter; I wouldn’t have known that without visiting. Also, the River Ore forms a large mere on the North side – I think that was a conceit of the Howards, centuries later, but when I was there the whole river valley was flooded; I think, in the same weather conditions, it would have been just as defensive in 1216, when John attacked the castle. They surrendered after two days – Roger Bigod was away; I bet he swore!

FramlinghamI am left with a puzzle, though. Henry II had Hugh Bigod’s motte and bailey at Framlingham destroyed, after the Young King rebellions in the 1170s. However, the English Heritage people were insistent that the stone chimneys visible in the curtain wall of the 13th C castle were remnants of the earlier castle – in fact, of the Lord’s chambers. How, if the motte was demolished? There’s no sign of it now.

They also suggested that the castle’s orientation has flipped 180 degrees, with Hugh’s castle oriented South, and his son Roger’s, to the North. Here’s a sketch, using Google Maps.

There were some interesting facts on how the castle was provisioned; in 1386 the dovecote produced 431 pigeons, and there were a team of falconers employed to fish from the mere!

I also loved the drive between Fram and Orford, through Parham, Campsea Ashe, and Tunstall. I indulged my church bent, and went into them all 🙂 Something I hadn’t realised is that the route runs alongside the River Ore – now not much more than a stream, but was it bigger then? Even navigable, or suitable for poling a boat up? The other major impression was how dark and huge Tunstall Forest is, even now. The river route might have been much safer!

Finally I had a nice visit with my favourite castle in the world, Orford. I had Wimer’s chapel to myself in the evening sunshine, and it was such a pleasant place to sit and write. I remembered to count this time; there were 12 seats in the chapel, another numerological reference! And I confirmed another hunch – Wimer’s bedroom is the only one in the castle with a private loo, he really did have a thing about them 😀

A most enjoyable outing.


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Silver linings and Maryan shrines…

Thinking silver linings – I had to drop off a bunch of papers at my solicitor’s a couple of days ago. I had a little free time, and was going to walk in to town and see if I could find a second-hand sheepskin rug (for knapping purposes..). However, right opposite the solicitor’s offices was a little church, with a sign outside saying “Come in and see our historic church”. Well, I am a complete sucker for historic churches, so I did; and what a nice surprise it turned out to be!

Firstly, the main door once through the porch is super – solidly Norman, no less, with some really nice decoration. I spent several minutes admiring that alone 🙂 It claims to be the oldest door in Ipswich – I’m a little suspicious about that, but it is an excellent example.

Then I wandered into the body of the church itself. This is mostly Victorian tat – except for the ORIGINAL statue of Mary and Jesus, that formed the centrepiece of the large Maryan cult in Ipswich in the middle ages! I’ve known about a small reproduction of the statue for a long time. It’s at the entrance to Lady Lane (a couple of hundred yards uphill from my newly favourite church); but finding the real statue here was completely unexpected! I have a very soft spot for this statue, as Mary is cuddling Jesus on an unusual side – which happens to be the same side as Wimer’s Mary is, on the arms of my St Mary of the Alder Grove. Incidentally, there’s a faintly strange cup-like arrangement carved underneath one of Jesus’ feet – if you go, I’d love to know its purpose? It is still a shrine, which I also appreciated. I had to carefully squeeze past the votive candles to admire the statue properly.

As always, I hunted for a historical leaflet; I have actually been known to pay for these 😛 None visible. Finally, on some display boards opposite the door but turned away from the line of march, was the potted history I was looking for; and it turns out that the Augustinian Priory of Holy Trinity in Ipswich was this church’s mother house! So Wimer might have known it himself; and the Holy Trinity Prior, one of my baddies in the Wimer sequel, certainly would have. How cool is that!

Lastly, the bell tower proved worth a glance – if a bit of a sniffy one, because it’s brick, and I was by now firmly back in the 12thC! Good brick, though; early; and with an English bond, and nice diapering. Best view is round the back, which also lets you admire the rather fine timbered houses behind the church.

I would definitely recommend a look around, if you’re in Elm Street – that’s where the police station is, in Ipswich, and just down from the Wolsey Theatre car park. Hey – Cardinal Wolsey would have known the church too! 😀

Its website is just as discreet as the church is! http://www.stmaryattheelms.org.uk/st_mary_at_the_elms/Home_Page.html


I hope you enjoy my books as much as I loved writing them! Here’s my Amazon page.

If you’d like to know more about my writing, you can sign up for my newsletter.

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