Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jane Austen Society in England

IMG_1778Since I am here in England at this time I thought it would be great to attend the 2012 Jane Austen Society Annual General Meeting with my daughter and my sister (in addition to taking us into her home, Julianna and her husband have been driving me all over the English countryside these two weeks. I could never could do it without them. These roads are CRAZY! -and I could go my whole life without using another roundabout!). I was not the only JASNA member there, but the other group seemed to all be from Canada, so I may have been the sole representative from the USA.

IMG_1771The AGM was held at the Chawton great house, which is now a museum and library of sorts. This was once owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight, though it is doubtful he ever lived here, preferring the more stately mansion of Godmersham (how would it be!). There was food, speakers, and displays from the various Jane Austen Society regions.

IMG_1793The main speaker was Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles former British ambassador to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and then Afghanistan. His lecture was very interesting and fun. His parents were members of the Jane Austen Society and he remembers as a boy romping on the hillside with his brothers while everyone was in the tent listening to a lecture much like the one he was giving. His talk was very nice and in a few parts very touching. Definitely one of the most enjoyable lectures I’ve been to.

IMG_1773We were permitted to tour the ground floor rooms at the Great House, walk along the garden, and sit to eat on the steps of the walled garden.IMG_1783

IMG_1784I walked down to the church of St. Nicholas, not to be confused with the church by the same name in Steventon, and took pictures of the gravestones of Jane Austen’s mother and sister. IMG_1785

As I walked back up the hill, my daughter was still perched where I had left her, on the steps to the house deeply engrossed in the book she was reading. She had the air of Catherine Morland caught up in an exciting novel. (I have to smile because if she turns to me in a gift shop asking for a souvenir, it’s usually a book).

IMG_1792I wanted to take a picture of this bus, because the owner donated the use of his bus fleet in driving attendees to and from Winchester. His father, now passed on, was another JAS member and supporter, and his vintage bus fleet is charming and perfectly restored.

IMG_1790We left Chawton with the bells tolling for evensong, having visited the great house here, and the Jane Austen House that I wrote about in my previous post. What a lovely place.


1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, I came to your blog through the WBC hop to look at your post and stopped dead on the first page because I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan too, I am not in the society (yet) but would have died for this opportunity. I am so glad you got to go there. Thank you for sharing it with us, if I never get there I can at least have "visited vicariously" through you! Now you know I am becoming your newest follower!


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