Griggs’s love of all things Elizabethan extends to her dressing up in period costume, but there’s a method to the madness, so to speak.

It all started while she was volunteering for the National Trust and she was asked if she wouldn’t mind dressing up in Elizabethan clothes while talking to visitors. Before long she was knee-deep in research – a trait evidenced in both her novels – and she developed a penchant for making period costumes. You could say she lived the part as she is often seen wearing one of her creations during book signing sessions.

“It’s a great way of understanding what it felt like to be them. As soon as I put those clothes on I hold myself differently, I walk and speak differently – I’m a lady,” she explains, almost in wonderment. “It gets you in character. You have to strip away all the modern stuff and see the world through their eyes.”

Her first novel, A Woman of Noble Wit, tells the story of Sir Walter Raleigh’s mother, Katherine Champernowne. She may have been infinitely less famous than her explorer son, but creating strong female leads who forge their own path has become a hallmark of hers.

In her latest work, The Dartington Bride, she brings to life another little known historical character, Lady Gabrielle Roberda Montgomery, a young French woman who marries into one of Devon’s most prominent families.

“Although we don’t know much about them, women did lead interesting and important lives. They were left to look after everything while their husbands went off sailing around the world.

“It was a patriarchal society and their acceptance of that sometimes is a bit hard coming from a modern perspective to understand, but they worked within that and exercised their own power.

They needed to be resilient.”

Finding out about the real people behind the titles and names was no easy task, however. “Women don’t feature very often in the historical record. There are a few milestones in a woman’s life, but there’s an awful lot of gaps in between. My task is to weave a story about those milestones,” she adds.

Another running theme is the characters’ connection with the county, and the latest novel is no exception.

The Dartington Bride is the latest novel by the Newton Abbot-based author
The Dartington Bride is the latest novel by the Newton Abbot-based author (Troubador Publishing )

“Dartington Hall is one of the most stunning historical buildings in the whole of Devon. People don’t really realise quite how far back the history goes.”

And to add to the mystique, Dartington can boast having its own ghost story. “There’s the Countess’s room where people heard ghostly footsteps and saw apparitions. It’s been linked to the story and it’s almost certainly the room where Roberda’s mother stayed when she was in Dartington.”

Discussing such well known Devonians as Francis Drake, John Hawkins and Walter Raleigh inevitably leads to their links with the slave trade and the country’s wider colonial past. It’s a controversial topic that has sparked a tug-of-war between those who argue that judging the past by the moral standards of the 21th Century is folly, and those who believe that our interpretation of history must evolve to have any relevance. Griggs believes it’s a conversation we should be having, either way.

“I don’t subscribe to the view that we’re re-writing history; we’re merely re-examining it from the whole range of perspectives of the people who were involved.”

During her research she came across some historical nuggets, such as the fact that native Americans may have settled in Devon much earlier than previously thought, and that the locals weren’t particularly keen on taking in Huguenot refugees who had fled France during the infamous St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572 – a societal clash that sounds eerily familiar.

“Initially, there was this huge outpouring of sympathy and the Queen was quite happy to welcome them because they were bringing useful skills to England, particularly in weaving, but suddenly people started to fear that they were taking their jobs. This was a dreadful time of poor harvests, food was in short supply and they were having their own cost-of-living crisis.”

And where will she take readers next in her ‘Daughters of Devon’ series?

“I haven’t quite finished with Roberda. I’m going to take her and the Champernownes through the time of the Spanish Armada,” she says, adding that it was a terrifying time for the people of Devon, as many feared that the invading force would try to land in Plymouth.

It might be better not to wear long skirts if you’re planning on fleeing to the hills.