Richard III Tour: From Windsor Castle to Marks and Sparks

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

A side trip to Windsor Castle

A side trip to Windsor Castle

Looking back from 2014: The visit to Windsor was my cousin Rosamond’s idea. I hadn’t scheduled a visit to the castle on my Richard Tour itinerary — a tremendous oversight. Richard’s brother, King Edward IV, had made plenty of history at Windsor, his favorite residence. He died there 531 years ago on April 9, 1483, and on April 20, was buried in St. George’s Chapel, on which he had started construction eight years before his death.  After we visited Windsor, Rosamond took me shopping at Marks and Spencer, a British mercantile institution. She fondly referred to it as “Marks and Sparks” (and I suddenly understood the reference in an old Mott the Hoople song lyric). She also convinced me to buy a duvet. I was enamored with the bed coverings, which were not yet popular in the States, but would be in a few years. I loved sleeping under their fluffy warmth and appreciated how they were used without a top sheet (which I tend to get tangled in). I have slept under one ever since. It still reminds me of England.

Byfleet (near London) Sept. 27, 1990

I have had a very nice day, it turns out. Once out of Oxford, which I found rather crowded and cold, I rode the train three hours just to get to where my cousin Rosamond could pick me up. Funny that she has the same name as the town I live in.

Anyway, after Rosamond picked me up, we had a nice lunch (really just a sandwich) and a talk. It’s good to be in a house again.

Then we went to Windsor Castle – a place I hadn’t thought of going, but very glad she suggested it. In St. George’s Chapel there are so many Kings and Queens buried. Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Henry VI – and so many others.

Then I went through the state rooms, so garish and exotic and baroque with great pieces of furniture and armor and weapons and paintings by Van Dyke and Rubens.

Then we went shopping and a sales clerk at Marks and Spencer told me that I’m the first “Karla” she’s met in all her 21 years who spells her name with a “K,” like she does. I can’t believe I bought a duvet, those blanket things you put on beds. It’s in a huge box. The biggest problem is getting it to the airport. Then I’ll just send it along with the luggage. I’m daft.


Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from




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