Fleetwood’s home, Gawthorpe Hall, is an Elizabethan mansion just outside Padiham in east Lancashire. The Shuttleworth family have owned the estate since the 12th century, and the current Hall was built around the original tower. Sir Richard Shuttleworth, a wealthy barrister (and uncle to Fleetwood’s husband Richard) made grand plans for a new stately home in the early 17th century, but died before it was completed. His brother, the Reverend Lawrence Shuttleworth, took over, but also died a few years later, leaving their 21-year-old nephew Richard to inherit and move in with his new wife Fleetwood Barton in around 1608. The young couple were the first to inhabit this modern palace, hundreds of miles from London society. With its rural setting, surrounded by thick woodland on one side and hemmed in by the River Calder on the other, I could just imagine Fleetwood’s face at the windows, waiting for her husband to come home.
A few of my favourite features inside the house that fired my imagination when I was plotting the book included the portrait of Fleetwood and her mother Mary, which hangs on the staircase, and the couple’s bed, which is richly decorated with emblems, serpents and coats of arms. The Barton coat of arms is three boars, but Fleetwood chose to use the six martlets of the Fleetwood coat of arms on the headboard instead.
For more information, visit the National Trust website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gawthorpe-hall