Our little town of Fenford is located near the Avon river in the middle of Warwickshire, directly between the City of Warwick (pronounced "warrick"), and Stratford on Avon, the home of the well-known playwright William Shakespeare. Fenford is famous for its distinctive apples and thriving wool industry, which is the envy of the surrounding towns, including its rival city across the Avon, Snitterfield.
Warwick is the seat of the Dudley family, and Fenford rests within their extensive lands. Sir Robert Dudley, the Queen's Master of Horse, Councillor, and bosom friend is well-known to all within the County. The citizens owe him and his family fealty, and they owe the people their love and care.
In the Summertime, Queen Elizabeth leaves the heat and disease which plagues London and travels throughout the English countryside, enjoying the hospitality and entertainment provided by her courtiers, and showing herself to her subjects. While she tarries at nearby Warwick Castle, she ventures out to hunt and discovers that a surprise has been arranged for her at the local Michaelmas Fair. Music, dancing, feasting, and a visit by none other than Will Shakespeare!
The Mayor of Fenford, Percival Dyer and his wife, Patience are humble country gentry who are not used to royal company, and have been doing their best to prepare for the Queen and her noble entourage. They live in hope that a happy experience for Her Majesty will result in advancement for their family's fortunes.
The people of Fenford belong largely to two prominent families; the Dyers and the Huddlestons, who have lived there for countless years, and for nearly as long have been bitter rivals. Nobody remembers what sparked the feud (ask, and you'll get conflicting, and often fanciful opinions) but each distrusts the other, and there's nothing to be done for it. Yet there is one venerable man who unites them all in a complex bond of blood, Old Uncle Wat, a woodworker of some skill and fame, whom all love and respect, and who often mediates the choppy waters of the eternal conflict. Yet, no matter how much these families may argue, they are united in their hatred of Snitterfield.
The presence of the Queen and her court brings both apprehension and excitement to the town; they bring with them all of the most powerful people in the realm, and their households, secretaries, laborers, entertainers, eligible sons and daughters, as well as an incomprehensible amount of money. What might they do to attract the attention of some prominent person who might change their lives with a commission, a purchase, a position, or a marriage?
Fenford is proud of its Warwickshire heritage, and there is much local folklore that celebrates its history. Who can forget the tales of Guy of Warwick who performed many feats of heroism and chivalry? Or the The Dun Cow of Dunsmore Heath, a giant cow which broke its bonds and went on a destructive rampage until slain by Sir Guy. Many a frightening story has been told of the Long Barrows which linger beyond the outskirts of the town, and the faeries and boggards (poltergeists) who lurk in the woods.