As a writer, inspiration comes from many sources. This week, I spent a day in Exeter visiting the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) and Exeter Cathedral along with the Sacred Heart Church.The exhibition at the RAMM was a series of watercolours documenting Queen Victoria’s visit to Paris in 1855. The visit occurred from 18-27 August, the first time a British monarch had visited the French capital in over 400 years. She was the guest of Napoleon III, nephew of Bonaparte, along with her husband, Albert and two eldest children. The visit was celebratory, following the Crimean War. The watercolours were made for the Queen as a souvenir of her visit, as she was a keen collector of this form of painting. The paintings were rich images of costume, pomp and circumstances. For any historical novelist, the series would provide rich source material, as you can see here.
The churches tell different stories. In the Sacred Heart is a row of confessional boxes. Within are kneeling stools for the confession of sins. There is surely material for a scene or a short story there. Within the Cathedral, there are various memorial stones which tell their own stories, and which may surely be used in many a tale. Take the story of poor Rachel Charlotte O’Brien, a mere 19, from Montreal, whose death was occasioned by her clothes catching fire. She sacrificed her own life to save her infant. A tragic tale in every sense, but one which could do easily be incorporated into a storyline.
We also learn a great deal about dress, activity, names and ways of writing through historical sources, so a day out viewing art and churches could just fire the imagination and lead to all sorts of ideas/inspiration.