The place where it happens! Marriage Deal with the Viscount primarily takes place in Taunton, located in Somerset in the southwesterly part of England. Taunton is noted for its wool industry, as mentioned in the previous post, so today, I thought it would be interesting to share a little of that history.
The River Tone runs through Taunton and lent its water source to the wool industry over the centuries. Today, the River Tone is also known for its fishing.
- The town is chartered in 904 AD
- By the 13th century there is a fulling mill there for wool
- By the 15th century, wool is being exported to France
- By the late 16th century, wool is being exported to Africa
In Conall's time, Taunton proved progressive in other ways too, adding gaslights, laying out gardens, and greenspaces, building an enormous amount of churches and a hospital, making it a great backdrop for Sofia's more progressive dreams of social equality. It was also a large enough town/city to have a register where Sofia and Conall could conduct a civil marriage.
The coming of the railroad made Taunton an approximately four and a half hour rail journey from London. The time of departure from the London station, featured in one of the early chapters of the book, is correct as is the station. This turns what would have been a multiple-day journey by coach or carriage in to a half-day venture. The railroad also increased Taunton's trade links to the world. Taunton wool and other products could easily be transported by railway to the port in Bristol.