Welcome to the Fictional World of Hartswood Hill.
“That was why Jack had brought her up here on their second date. He’d told her the history of Hartswood Hill – how Henry VIII had hunted deer in the days when it was covered with trees. He’d shown her the villages, spread out around them like the four points of a compass: Baronsmere; Baronswood with St John’s Church, famous for its murals; Hadleigh dotted with farms and sheep; and Marsham, the former mill-town with its ramshackle houses. He’d shown Annie his world that day, the place where his roots ran deep. All human life – farm and factory, rich and poor – was here. He could think of nowhere better to raise a family, and he’d hoped she would fall in love with the view, with the place – with him.”
(excerpt from “Beneath an Irish Sky,” the first novel in the Hartswood Hill series)
Hartswood Hill is a place that exists only in our imagination, but it has come to seem very real to us, the writers. In fact, we sometimes wish we could buy houses there and settle down. However, fiction is fiction, so we only get to visit The Hill when we’re creating our novels. And we’d like to take as many readers as possible into this imaginary world of four different villages, known collectively as the Royal Borough of Hartswood Hill.
Our Hartswood Hill is set in the North West of England, in real-life Cheshire – a county which has managed to retain many of its small towns and agricultural villages. Hartswood Hill has over a thousand years of history – let us share with you some of the key events and changes for the villages. The same changes that happened for real in many English villages over the centuries:
What started as a small Anglo-Saxon settlement officially became the village of Baronsmere after William the Conqueror rewarded a French baron with land in the years following 1066.
Peasants served their nobles by farming this land for hundreds of years until it became more profitable to graze sheep on the land and export the wool. Then two new villages sprang up next to Baronsmere – Hadleigh with its farms, and Baronswood with its merchant class of traders.
The fourth village – Marsham – grew out of the Industrial Revolution. A water-powered woollen mill was at the centre of this new village, where the poor and their families came, desperate for work.
During the First World War, every young man from the four villages enlisted in the armed forces. Fewer than half returned home. As a tribute to their courage and loyalty, the combined villages were granted the honorary title of the Royal Borough of Hartswood Hill, although each of the villages also retained their name and separate identity.
So, that’s a short outline of the long history of Hartswood Hill.
Our Hartswood novels, though, are set in modern times, and each novel will focus on a separate village. Since the villages are so close together, some characters and places will appear in more than one novel.
The first novel in the Hartswood Hill series has been completed. It’s called “Beneath an Irish Sky” and the setting is the village of Baronsmere.
The second Hartswood Hill novel is in progress. It is set in the village of Baronswood.
Working on these novels is a pleasure for us. We hope you’ll decide to come along with us on the journey.