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A tale about the infamous Hellfire Club spanning two centuries

For eight years, I worked in the shadow of The Tower of London and never once passed through its gates.  Similarly, for more than ten years I lived close to West Wycombe, knew the story of The Hellfire Club, and never pursued it to any great length.  It was not until I decided to answer some primeval urge to write a book and was searching for an interesting story around which to hang my words, that I thought of Sir Francis Dashwood and his group.  Actually, I had two stories in mind the first being the tale of the Marie Celeste.  However, once I started to read up on the subject it became obvious that I would need a whole wealth of nautical knowledge that I simply did not possess.  Therefore, I turned again to the village of West Wycombe.

I chose to make it a story around one of Dashwood’s disciples, Robert Lloyd, about whom little is known these days.  My investigations led me to find that he had a relationship (not clarified) with the sister of a good friend, Charles Churchill.  The lady in question was Patricia Churchill and the sum of our knowledge about her is but a fraction of what we know about Lloyd.  Thus I felt I had a good foundation upon which to build a fictitious story – a love affair; a notorious group of high profile 18th century personalities; a sensational event; and financial ruin.  The latter two I will discuss anon.

The “event” is described in Chapter XXVIII and is based heavily on surviving texts of the time. The financial ruin concerns the debts that eventually sent Lloyd to prison wherein he ultimately died. Lloyd’s untimely death did not appear to me to provide a particularly happy ending to the story no matter which way I tried. Therefore, I hit upon the idea of writing two stories in parallel albeit some two hundred years apart.

 

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