Chapter 4: Mill Road and Catherine Street, Salisbury, 1825
“I found lodgings at the Rose and Crown for two and six."
I enjoyed writing that line and, in reading it over again, it never gets old. One of the interesting things about setting an historical novel in England is that two and three century old buildings are not all that rare – just as some of the businesses encountered are hundreds of years old. And the Rose and Crown hasn’t really changed all that much since Ananias’ stay there on the 31st of December, 1825 when it was a mere 600 years old. Below is a photograph of the inn taken on the 31st of December, 2019 – exactly 194 years (to the day) afterwards.
The textile industry in Salisbury was in decline at the time, so I felt it quite necessary to portray these circumstances as accurately as possible. I stole the Ogden name from a family of well-known drapers at the time. In fact, Thomas Ogden was appointed His Majesty’s draper in 1786. Mill Road (below) was an obvious location for the premises – again, I’m not sure that it has changed a great deal.
One key character in this chapter is Salisbury Cathedral. The architect in me found this to be irresistible. It would be a “must see” in the town, then, as it is now. It is also a great foreshadowing tool. John Constable’s 1831 painting Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows sets the scene very well, and of course is contemporary with our protagonist...
...but J.M.W. Turner’s Interior of Salisbury Cathedral which he completed in 1805, captures the scale and mood of this magnificent space.
A pivotal event has its seed in this chapter. It occurs at the Fellows Circulating Library on Catherine Street. That street is seen here below (The Cloisters is on the corner) where it changes from St. John at the intersection with New and Ivy.
There are buildings here from the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th century. These would have seemed old to him, but the contemporary buildings of his day, Georgian and Regency styles for example, now seem old to us – and no doubt, every bit as remarkable.