Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Spoiled Janeite

Wait until you see what Santa brought this Janeite!

My Santa of choice is currently deployed with the Army in North Africa, but he has been spoiling me big time. Look what he gave me for Christmas.sense and sensibility autographed copy 1A production script from Sense and Sensibility 1995 signed by Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Robert Hardy, Alan Rickman, James Fleet and Tom Wilkinson. Can you believe that?500full It comes with a certificate of authenticity too. I admit I did run my hand across the signatures a few times. Time to watch this show again!

sense and sensibility autographed copy 2

I was blessed with many gifts that I am thankful for, not all of them Austen related, but here is another one that is.

cozy Jane AustenMy daughter and her husband gave me this adorable board book Pride and Prejudice by Cozy Classics. I haven’t even seen this one advertised yet. I love dolls, and have been caught out in the neighborhood doing a Barbie photo shoot or two, so I loved seeing the earnest look of emotion on the faces of the soft felt characters. Can Pride and Prejudice be told in 15 words or less? I say, YES!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Basildon Court

IMG_1583basildonKnown as ‘Netherfield’ to fans of the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, Basildon Court is a lovely building inside and out.
The setting is beautiful. I enjoyed our little drives so much my sister at one point called me a Hampshire girl. I felt a certain thrill going out on the highway and seeing names of places that Jane Austen knew and was familiar with. I couldn’t ride past the Basingstoke exit without thinking of a young Jane and Cassandra preparing for a dance at the local assembly room. One thing I learned about this countryside is that, like in the old days, most of the roads are tucked into a thick growth of trees and hedges, making a glimpse of the gently rolling countryside a rare treat. You can imagine me craning my neck to catch a glimpse of an old church or fine country home briefly visible through the trees.
But back to Basildon- here are my pictures of that lovely mansion.
Beautifully restored ceiling in the entrance.
There were lovely patterns on the wall. These are seen in the background in Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Bennet consoles Mary after the ‘piano incident’.
More lovely ceilings.
The dining room.

This is the room where Miss Bingley and Elizabeth Bennet take their infamous turn about the room, but the directors wanted a lighter color for the room. In order to protect the historic red silk walls, artificial walls were created to go in front. Decorative pillars were also added, their real purpose was to hold the walls so nothing would be affixed to the delicate walls of the home.
This was an original ceiling that hadn’t been replaced or restored. It was absolutely lovely. The guide was trying to direct me to take my photo in another area because of the watermark here. I felt like saying “I’m from America and we like old stuff!”
This bathroom had it’s last update after WWII.
One of Basildon Court’s lovely bedrooms.
1940’s style servant’s bells.
A fun surprise in this house- the state of the art (1950’s) kitchen, complete with volunteers making cookies for the visitors to sample.
Another view of the cute kitchen.
The entrance to a walled garden.
There is a room dedicated to the houses role in the 2005
adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Wouldn’t you love to receive notice for this casting call?
One of the lovely statues on the grounds at the rear of the house.
A view of the back face of the house.
My daughter sits at the edge of the garden with a new little friend. Small children were attracted to my daughter throughout our trip, which made for some fun moments, including one little girl who wouldn’t let go of Jordan’s hand on the underground, and screamed when her parents had to pry her away at the exit.
Jordan and Lynnae at Basildon Court
A little picture I hobbled together of me and my daughter living in the world of Jane Austen.

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.


The Jane Austen House.

IMG_1731Today I was in Chawton for the Jane Austen Society Annual General Meeting. (More on that in the next post). The highlight of the visit was touring the Jane Austen House Museum, also known as Chawton Cottage. IMG_1768This is Chawton Cottage from the back. from the road it looks like a large square building but I had always wondered what the back was like. Here you can see it is more ‘L’ shaped. The upstairs window on the far left is Jane’s room.


I can’t tell you how it feels to take a curve in the road and suddenly be looking at a place that I have longed to see for years. Chawton Cottage is where Jane wrote or revised all of her novels.

IMG_1757The quilt on display was made by Jane, Cassandra, and their mother, from clothing pieces. IMG_1752This was Jane’s bedroom up until the last few weeks of her life when they stayed in Winchester to seek better medical help for her.IMG_1750

IMG_1760This is the view from Jane Austen’s bedroom window out the back of the house toward the bakehouse.

IMG_1745That precious little table is where she sat composing some of the greatest writings in the English language.

IMG_1749The stairs she walked up, the doorframes she passed through, the window sill she leaned against, all touched me with her spirit.

IMG_1723The surrounding countryside is beautiful. The land here is more heavily wooded than I supposed, with meadows and farmland. IMG_1764The area around her home is a lovely low walled garden, serene and beautiful. It is not hard to imagine what it would have looked like then.

IMG_1746200 years ago Jane would have been composing the ending chapters of Mansfield Park, my favorite of her six novels. Was she already feeling weary from the illness that would claim her? As tragic as her destiny was, I can see that she must have found peace in the lovely garden and the ever changing verdure of the countryside she loved.

In some respects this was a pilgrimage for me. After reading her novels, juvenalia, letters, and several biographies, the people in them begin to seem like friends and neighbors. I know they say everyone who loves Jane Austen thinks they know Jane Austen. I feel I know her more closely now after visiting this place that was so important to her.

It was a lovely day.


P.S. I must say something about my dear husband today. As some of you know he is deployed oversees. Today was his birthday and he didn’t have the best day. And here I am having the time of my life traveling etc. I just want him to know I was thinking of him often…….. Jon, I love you with all my heart and I can’t wait until we are together again. So many times I wish you would have been with me to smile, make me laugh, give me a little hug, or just share in the moment.

Love always, Lynnae

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remembering Jane Austen- In Winchester July 18th

Jane Austen gravesite in Winchester CathedralToday marks the 195th Anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, one of the greatest writers of the English Language and my favorite writer. On this day I was very honored to be in Winchester Cathedral where she is buried. It is an awe inspiring thing to be in this town today. I thought there would be more people, but there were a few other admirers visiting the place where she was buried.

Jane Austen Brass memorialAbove is a plaque more recently erected that mentions her life as an author.

Fresh flowers had been placed there. Above the plaque, stained glass windows are placed in Honor of Jane Austen.

Jane Austen Window WinchesterHere is a brief description of the windows:

In the head of the window is a figure of Saint Augustine, whose name abbreviated is Austen. In the center of the upper row is David with his harp. Below that is an inscription in Latin remembering Jane Austen. In the center of the bottom row is Saint John, holding a book, displaying on the open page the first sentence of his Gospel… “In the Beginning was the Word.” The figures in the other windows represent the sons of Korah (1 Chronicles 9;19) carrying scrolls inscribed with sentences in Latin from the psalms, indicative of the religious side of Jane Austen’s character.

We also went to see the home nearby where Jane Austen lived her last days.

Jane Austen Home in WinchesterIn a small upper room in this house she died in the arms of her beloved sister Cassandra. There is a small lawn across the street and we were able to sit under the trees for a moment and contemplate the scene. Few other people were around and there was a definite feeling of reverence for us as we sat and looked at the small, unimposing home.

God Bless you Jane Austen. I can’t wait to find out what you’ve been writing in heaven!

Jane Austen Plaque