I wish I could say that I was able to experience more than I did, but personal reasons interfered and I only managed two days of Jane Austen immersion this year. 😉 I understand from those present that the Regency Day was the best yet and that despite the heat, the ball was a success, which was nice to hear, though I was sorry to have missed both. I’m not too sure about dressing out Regency in the heat wave we had at that time, but the rest would have been fun.
I arrived late afternoon on Monday the 19th and settled in, meeting up with good friend Cass Grafton, who arrived several days before. My first event was a talk by the well-known Jane Austen historian Diedre LeFaye, who spoke on Jane Austen’s life in Hampshire–primarily the places she lived and how they were depicted during her life and how the places or sites appear now. The talk was informative and the pictures were very interesting, especially of places I had visited.
Tuesday morning, my daughter and I walked out to Chawton and poked around St. Nicholas Church, which is near Chawton House and was the church associated with Edward Austen Knight’s estate. St. Nicholas was originally built sometime around 1270, though it was renovated and parts even re-built during the Victorian era. Most of the church was destroyed by fire in 1872 or 1873, but the chancel remained and is still part of the church that stands today. A plaque for Cassandra, Jane’s sister is still to the left of the altar and still retains scorch marks from the fire.
Outside St. Nicholas Church, Jane Austen’s mother Cassandra and her sister Cassandra Elizabeth are buried behind the building and almost set apart with how they are arranged.
Tuesday afternoon, we attended a talk by Gabrielle Malcolm on “Darcy then and now,” which was interesting in how she illustrated the sources and inspirations for Jane Austen’s masterpiece and then how it has created an archetype that has carried through to modern story telling and literature.
That evening, Jane Austen House Museum held their annual open house. With the high temps, everyone walked through and after, a great many of the guests milled about in the gardens. We didn’t stay long, but walked through the house and then took the tour of the attics before heading off for dinner and to cool down.
Unfortunately, Wednesday meant it was time to travel home. My daughter and I did go into Winchester that morning, but I’ll save that for next week’s post. 🙂
Thanks to Joan at St. Mary’s Hall for the amazing place to stay. St. Mary’s Hall is located near The Butts and makes for an easy walk in one direction to Alton and in the other to Chawton. She is a wonderful hostess and definitely spoiled us! Maybe next year the weather will be more what we’re accustomed to!