I found it noteworthy that historical fiction had a presence in most of the gift shops at the historical sites we visited, whether they were managed by the National Trust, English Heritage, or a more local organizing body. What better way to continue to experience the atmosphere of a historical locale than to read a novel set there?
Here are some examples.
At the Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham, the shop had numerous copies of Janet MacLeod Trotter's historical sagas set in England's North East. This was a fabulous and large site, with restored buildings dating from the Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and WWII eras, as well as costumed interpreters. We spent most of a day wandering around here.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Bernard Cornwell's Saxon novels about Uhtred of Bebbanburg were in evidence at the shop at Bamburgh Castle.
The shop at Lindisfarne Priory offered a selection of historical novels set in and around monasteries and abbeys, such as Cassandra Clark's medieval mysteries about the Abbess of Meaux. The Holy Island is accessible by causeway only at low tide, which gave us a few hours to explore the area last Monday morning. It's definitely worth a trip.
The Chesters Roman Fort and Museum, near Chollerford in Northumberland, hosts the well-preserved ruins of a British Roman cavalry fort; it's located on Hadrian's Wall. The gift shop at this site sold the historical adventure novels of Ben Kane and Simon Scarrow.
Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, the grand Elizabethan-era country house commissioned by powerful noblewoman Bess of Hardwick, had a nice array of books in its shop, below, including novels by Philippa Gregory and C.J. Sansom. There was plenty of historical nonfiction about Tudor notables, too.
As a result, many visitors to these historical landmarks will be introduced to historical fiction and popular history. I don't recall seeing this happening to such an extent on my last trip to the UK two years ago. If this is a new trend, I hope it continues.