Sunday, 1 March 2009

"Welcome to Newmarket"

It doesn't take much to excite me. So when I was browsing sites for old maps of Suffolk last night and came across this print of the entrance to Newmarket in 1828 I did a small jig of joy (it had to be a small one because (a) everyone else was asleep and (b) there isn't much space in the workroom).

I LOVE the entrance to Newmarket. Always have done, ever since my first view of it when we were considering moving here from London. And here it is - just as Kit describes it to Susanna in Fair Deception. Enjoy!

[Drawing by William Westall, Engraving by Edward Finden]

The weather was propitious for their journey even if the rutted and ill-maintained roads left much to be desired. Accustomed to the bumping and jolting of the Chartwell Players’ wagons, Susanna came to the amused conclusion that she felt the discomfort far less than either her maid or Kit’s valet.
. “Whoa, there!” The horses came to a halt and she heard Kit’s voice calling from alongside. “Look! Isn’t Newmarket the prettiest prospect? Think so every time I come!” He sprang down from the curricle and opened the carriage door.
. Emerging, Susanna at once saw what he meant. All around lay the wild, empty expanse of Newmarket Heath, but in front the road fell away to reveal the elegant main street of a market town nestled snugly between one rise and the next.
. “I believe you’ll like it,” said Kit. “I never knew such a town for so many things going on for its size. Why, there must be upwards of a dozen places where you can get a decent chop and a good bottle of claret.”
. John Farley snorted. “And a couple of score more where you take your life in your hands asking for a tankard of ale, Mr Kit! Miss Susanna won’t be going to any of them. Nor the mills or the cock-fighting.”
. Susanna smiled. “Mrs Belmont did say it was not a town for ladies.”
. “Not when the race meetings are on,” conceded Kit. “It is all horses, horses, horses. But I daresay it is much like any other place for the rest of the time.” He pointed. “You cannot tell it from here but the road divides the town. The right-hand side has the larger properties: Crockford, Queensbury and so on keep houses here. Further along on the left is the warren where Johnny’s doubtful taverns are situated, but there are a good many ordinary, solid villas to be found too.”
. An odd tightness constricted Susanna’s chest as she gazed down at the street with its carts, phaetons and carriages. She had been so busy keeping Kit at a distance in case some hint of her feelings for him escaped that she had managed to push this moment to the back of her mind. But now she was actually in Newmarket, about to descend into the town itself and still she hadn’t told him about her past.


Kate Hardy said...

What a beautiful engraving.

Have you discovered Thomas Kitson Cromwell's "Excursions in the County of Suffolk" yet? ... I think part of it might be available on Google Books. (I know, I know, I know - but as it's almost 200 years old, copies are very hard to come by... and put it this way, DH looked inside my Norfolk one and the bookseller had pencilled in the price. Arrgh. I was in DEEP trouble for that one. Even though it was work/tax-deductible/will appreciate in value...)

They might have a copy in Newmarket library. Or Bury...

Jan Jones said...

Oh, bad Kate! Where did my evening just go? (Actually, very bad Kate - I looked up the prices of available copies!)

Kate Hardy said...

It's research - and I'm sticking to that :o)

Anonymous said...

I loved reading the excerpt and looking at the picture! It really fits. How thrilling to see your writing come to life!

Susie Vereker said...

How lovely, Jan. Good to be reminded of the lovely Susanna too. Great description. Better put this print on your website too, if you can.

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Julie. I was SO thrilled (and a mite relieved) to find this engraving. Nowadays, of course, there's a double line of parked cars either side of the road...

Susie - what an excellent idea.

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

I so empathise with the Happy Dance.
As you've just posted on mine you know I've been 'Speening' it. I really, really know what you mean.
Enjoyed the excerpt too!

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. It's just such a fab feeling, isn't it? "Yessss!" instead of "No-o-o-o-o-o-o..."

Glad you liked the excerpt. (Next time you're in the library, ask them to order it - Mr Hale needs the sales)