The Search for Leigh Abbey

One of the Devil’s Arrows, Yorkshire

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, with a post that could be subtitled “Finding Pretty Scenery to Post.” One of the things I’ve been trying to do lately on Facebook is intersperse the shared posts on Covid-19 news and those that are shameless self-promotion with photos that show pretty scenes in happier, less stressful times. A great many of those have come from the pictures I took during the fifteen-day visit my husband and I made to England and Scotland back in the summer of 2001. We took even better pictures with our video camera, but someone would have to be way more tech savvy than I am to reproduce anything from those nearly twenty-year-old VHS tapes here. Fortunately, my snapshots still contain some pretty nice scenery.

garden at Cothele, Cornwall

I should pause here and explain the title of this post. Back in 2001, I was still writing my Face Down Mysteries for St. Martin’s Minotaur line. If memory serves, Face Down Before Rebel Hooves was about to come out, Face Down Across the Western Sea was written but not yet turned in, and I was actively planning what would become Face Down Below the Banqueting House. Research relating to all three was the official, tax-deductible reason for traveling to England.

Rufford Old Hall, Ormskirk

We visited the north of England to follow the route of the Rebellion of the Northern Earls of 1569, the central story of Rebel Hooves. We visited Cornwall and Bristol, where Western Sea is set. But mostly,

Speke Hall, Lancashire

we toured houses. You see, although Susanna, Lady Appleton, my series sleuth, had already appeared in five published Face Down novels, as well as Rebel Hooves and Western Sea, I had never had her spend much time at her home, Leigh Abbey in Kent. I didn’t have a clear concept of what the place looked like. The remedy? Plan a trip around visits to sixteenth-century English country houses that still look something like they did in the Elizabethan era.

Penshurst, Kent

So off we went, looking for inspiration, and back we came with wonderful memories and lots of visual aids. Little did I know that two decades later I’d be looking to these photos for their sense of peace and tranquility as well as their beautiful scenery.

Athelhampton, Dorset


upper garden at Cothele

Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

church in Barfreystone, Kent, geographical location of the fictional Leigh Abbey

With the June 30, 2020 publication of A Fatal Fiction, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett will have had sixty-two books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes but there is a new, standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things, in the pipeline for October. She maintains three websites, at and and another, comprised of over 2000 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century English women, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.

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2 Responses to The Search for Leigh Abbey

  1. jbettany2013 says:

    It was lovely to see Haddon Hall featured in your post. It’s about 20 miles from where I live (near Derby UK) and I’m looking forward to visiting the Hall again when things get back to normal here. Stay safe!

  2. kaitlynkathy says:

    How lucky you are to live so close, and to Hardwick Old Hall, too. We visited there and loved it but didn’t take any still shots. Haddon Hall was definitely a highlight of our trip. You stay safe, too.

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