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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

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  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

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Wenches Statistics

  • Years published: 164

    Novels published: 231

    Novellas published: 74

    Range of story dates: nine centuries (1026-present)

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You make up all sorts of worlds, making up just the village and house you want should be easy. Jane Austen's Emma is really the only one of her novels that is set in a village. I know the Bennets live in Meryton but it isn't as much a part of the story to me as the place where Emma is set. I do not really pay that much attention to background. Most stories deal with the interaction between two people and this could take place anywhere.
If the English village is set apart it probably belongs to the man with the biggest house. If there is a church, it probably is a poor living because of the small population and thus small amount of tithes collected. If small it might not have a a regular church unless the biggest landowner's ancestors had built it. But why would anyone build a large house in an isolated area where the cost of all goods would be increased and finding servants would be difficult?

Katby Lynn Emerson

Pat, Check out the Victoria County Histories, a county by county (village by village) record compiled in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Tons of detail plus maps and the occasional floor plan. It may be online by now but years ago I borrowed volumes through inter library loan.

Ann Looker

There's a nice village and an impressive manor house at Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire. The Manor House is Elizabethan and worth a google perhaps. Parts of the village are very Miss Marpleish. We used to live in a nearby town.

Mary Jo Putney

Pat, John enjoyed your cruise through the history of English villages. It's interesting, but as a pragmatist, I say invent your own bit of landscape and go forth and storyify! Although you might, of course, need a deductible research trip to England and there is nothing wrong with that!

Mary M.

“Or I could just make it up and quit procrastinating.” 😂 Story of my life, Pat. So many fascinating possibilities, how to settle on one?

Thanks for giving us the rabbit hole of how community life forms, and why. It will be interesting to see the family, perhaps eccentric, that founds and develops your story's property. I'd love to hear how this plays out for you.

Patricia Rice

Oh, I have that part all figured out. It's the actual location that's eluding me. A house started in the 16th century (just throwing that date out there, no research yet) with lands granted from the crown to some ancestor would develop its own village, theoretically. But if the owners didn't stay, the area wouldn't thrive.

Patricia Rice

oh fabulous, thank you, thank you! I am hunting it down now...

Patricia Rice

Brilliant, thank you! I can see I'll spend a fun day in researching and maybe this book will gel a little more.

Patricia Rice

LOL, yes, deductible research would be lovely. And I can make up the village once I have a county that isn't overpopulated. And I have a clue what the county is like. I usually send people off to the city but this one won't work that way

Patricia Rice

oh yeah, is there any family that isn't eccentric?

Lil Marek

Making it up yourself is the most pragmatic way to go about it, but wandering through research to find a real one is more fun.

Your mention of knife sharpeners and tinsmiths gave me an idea though. I think both of those would probably be itinerant rather than settled down in a village. But wouldn't that be a lovely disguise for a detective? Or a villain? No one would be surprised to see them turning up all over the place.

Annette N

What an interesting post. I have enjoyed living in small towns and large cities and even in places which were not incorporated at all. I love stories which take me into a small town or village, whether in England or this country. Small towns give a sense of comfort because there are interesting stories all around, and if you live there, you generally know where all the bodies are buried. Not that anyone would actually bury a body where it could be found. Deeper is always better.

Hope everyone is well.

Patricia Rice

oh yeah, good thinking! I was wondering if I could find where the peddlers went to know where the really rural villages were. But I may just have to pick a county and make up a town. I at least need the county!

Patricia Rice

there is a reason cozy mysteries are set in small towns! I'd like to have a mystery involved but I'm burned out on dead bodies. Still pondering!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Pat; I hope that you can figure out an appropriate setting for your story.

You said, "Do you enjoy “living” in small towns and villages when we write about them?"

I think for me that I am all about the characters; the setting is simply where the characters live. From Shakespeare:
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players...."

Linda S

Pat, could your village be in Scotland? I’ve found the Statistcal Accounts of Scotland fascinating. The parish where some of my ancestors lived had only 732 people in 1831, and only one inn. There were six landowners, and the fishing rights on the Tay River were owned by Lord Gray. My 3d great-grandfather worked at both fishing and farming. The information in these Accounts just brings my ancestors to life in a way that the birth and death records do not.

Patricia Rice

yes, the characters are what I enjoy most too. I'm not sure why I gravitate toward rural

Patricia Rice

what a fabulous resource! I suspect there were a lot of villages like that, but Scotland has different laws than England, and the ones I'm teasing around require the more eccentric English laws. But I haven't entirely decided yet. Thanks for the great resource!


As a general-purpose resource, you might find “Mapping England” useful. It is by Simon Foxell, who also wrote “Mapping London: Making sense of the city. Both were published by black dog publishing in London. I got my copy via Amazon.

When doing genealogical research about an English family, I was looking for information on the village of Clifton Campville in Staffordshire. I wanted to know more about the geography and came across these tithe maps. They are from the 1800s, but you might be able to use them to spark your imagination:


There were other old guidebook entries and newspaper items I found, too, using a variety of search terms and varying the order of the search terms. And, of course, there was Wikipedia. Good luck!

Patricia Rice

these are fabulous, thank you! Now, to quit procrastinating...

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