Once Upon A Time Part 1

Part 1

My passions for history, research, and England began when my family moved from the U.S. to this late Victorian era home near London. That’s me by the front door during a return visit in 2008, not me arriving at age eight. At least now I can reach the first row of stained glass without standing on tiptoe.

When I first viewed the ornate iron gates, front garden, and curved gravel drive I imagined I was a princess arriving at a mansion. The estate agent extolled the virtues of the Victorian furniture, William Morris wallpaper and rugs, carved marble fireplaces, French doors, and crystal chandeliers. It didn’t matter whom William Morris was or that I had only seen the ground floor. I was a princess living in a mansion.

After a week of exploring the maid’s quarters, glass-walled nursery, dumbwaiter, rear gardens, and carriage house, I ventured into the neighborhood. The family next door explained houses like ours were built for wealthy people like bankers, doctors, and architects. The real mansion for lords and ladies, not princesses, was a few blocks away.

I wasn’t disappointed then or now. My childhood home, neighborhood, and its residents inspire my writing. . Every time I visit this special place a part of me becomes that eight year old who believes she’s a princess and thinks every day is an HEA(Happily Ever After).

Which place(s) inspire your writing, research, or reading? Please share, ask a question, or leave a comment.


  1. This is less of a reply and more of a not-so-instant replay of replies which were lost during site revamping. I didn’t want you to miss them. Enjoy!

    Alexa Bourne
    Submitted on 2012/04/17 at 10:58 pm
    Great picture & story, Princess Jillian! As you know, all of the UK is my happy place, but especially Glenfinnan, Scotland & Edinburgh too!

    Jillian Lark
    Submitted on 2012/04/17 at 11:15 pm | In reply to Alexa Bourne.
    Thanks for being the first person to leave a comment on my site. I agree, I’ve enjoyed all the places I’ve visited in the UK. Hmm, Princess Jillian. I could get used to that.

    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 8:13 am
    woo hoo! as you SHOULD!

    Jillian Lark
    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 9:24 am | In reply to cherylrae7.
    Please remember you said that the next time we meet.

    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 7:53 am
    I love Princess Jillian. My father used to call me Princess when I was young. I’ve always had an affinity for the British Isles. Perhaps because I have English ancestors. Like Alexa, the strong pull, however, is for Scotland and Ireland. A Gaelic heart beats in this breast, or at least in my memories. Give me a Scottish burr or an Irish lilt and I swoon.
    I look forward to your novels wherever they may take place. Scenery is great, but a dash of humor helps make those long dark nights more bearable.

    Jillian Lark
    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 9:20 am | In reply to nanettelittlestone.
    I’ve been to Ireland once for a thirty-minute plane layover. I’d love to return for a longer visit, because I have Irish ancestors and want to see where they lived.
    My father didn’t call me Princess, but he made me feel like one. When I was age four, I held onto doorjambs and swung around them as I entered rooms. My grandfather called me The Flying Dutchman.
    Now I don’t enter rooms that way. I’d rather have the occupants of the room bow and curtsey.

    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 3:54 pm | In reply to Jillian Lark.
    LOL that was the ‘BEST’

    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 8:15 am
    Mine also – all my ancestors came from England here. Maiden name is Hodgson. it means the bricklayer’s son. Or so I gathered when I was there.

    Jillian Lark
    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 9:35 am | In reply to cherylrae7.
    Cheryl, I’m fascinated by family histories even if they aren’t mine. In which areas of England did your ancestors live and during which time periods?

    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 3:53 pm | In reply to jillianlark.
    I don’t have a lot of info either – but they came from Yorkshire around the 1750′s. Settled in and around Illinois and did marry into the Sioux nation. But I am only 1/8 myself.

    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 5:07 pm | In reply to cherylrae7.
    I hope you went to Yorkshire on your trip to England. I have some great photos and stories of that area from a trip to visit friends. They were my former neighbors at the house featured on this page. Email your ancestors’ information to me privately. I may be able to locate more information.

    Chris Campillo
    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 4:42 pm
    Beautiful website. Even better childhood story. What a dream come true for an eight-year-old.

    Submitted on 2012/04/18 at 5:40 pm | In reply to Chris Campillo.
    Thanks, Chris! It took a village to create this website, but the result was worth it. See the Acknowledgment section on the Home page for more details.
    You’re correct about my childhood experiences in the “mansion” being a dream come true. At the time I lived there, my parents rented the house and could have purchased the house and everything in it for less than $8,000.00
    Unfortunately my mother preferred modern homes, and my allowance was only fifty cents a week. In 2008 the current owner bought the empty house without many of its original Victorian embellishments. The sales price was more than $700,000.00.

    This concludes the replay of previous comments. Reply below to leave a comment about the original post or this replay.

    • I really enjoyed learning about your childhood home in England. Oh my gosh, living in a Victorian house would be so much fun! I would love to see it in person.

      Don’t ever lose that feeling of being a princess and living happily ever after.

      • Haley, the princess in me wishes I could see my childhood home every day. Thanks for commenting! Looking forward to our next adventure, Jillian

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