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


Friday, July 13, 2012

Where Bloggers Create Studio Tour


I am on vacation in England right now, but I wanted to Join in the wonderful Where Bloggers Create studio tour anyway. Greetings visitors! I’m pleased that you stopped by.

I have changed a few things around since the last studio tour I participated in two years ago. This is what my studio looked like then.

I have rearranged the room a little bit and taken down the colorful wallpapers for the time being. IMG_0519Like many of you, my studio is also the guest bedroom. Since I am having a string of visitors this summer, the beds are set up for company.IMG_0528 These pictures are from my studio, when I was setting out costume dresses for my Jane Austen party this spring.IMG_0522


Because my room is set up and waiting for the next guest, we had a makeshift studio in the breakfast nook. Here I am, in the black shirt, painting a still life with another friend in the room just off my kitchen.




We wanted to do some plein air painting, but when the day turned out rainy I put together a still life for us to paint.

And the finished project from that afternoon……IMG_0958

Thanks for stopping by!


My England Trip- London

I am in England. It is my second day and this is really a dream come true for me. I am staying with my sister Julianna and her kind husband, who have a sweet little cottage style home in Reading.IMG_1004 There are so many little nooks and Crannies! My daughter and I are sleeping in a little upstairs room that is so sweet it’s like being in a treehouse. I have an angled window right above my bed. Julianna also had some gifts for us when we arrived. IMG_0997

This is a one hundred year old copy of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, my favorite novel, that she gave me as a birthday present. Isn’t it beautiful!IMG_1000

Today we went out to London, But we started the day with Breakfast at a charming and very yummy restaurant in Reading called Bill’s.. IMG_1008IMG_1017My daughter was excited to see the tower of London, so that was our main destination.IMG_1022Friday 7-13 Lynnae

London Bridge.

We also went out to see Big Ben. IMG_1095OK, OK, I’ll post this picture, even though I’m not too happy about what is going on with my hair by this point! Jordan looks fabulous as always!IMG_1020

Friday in London

Friday in London with Juli at the eye

My sister Julianna and I with the London Eye in the background.

As you can see I’m having a great time and feeling totally spoiled here in the UK. I wish I could write about everything. But right now I’m feeling about as tired as this little girl…..IMG_1099

More to come….


Monday, July 2, 2012

Thrift Shop China

IMG_0964Over the past few years I’ve collected china teacups and saucers for my friends to use at my annual Jane Austen party. I’m getting a nice little collection.

IMG_0965For quite some time I’ve considered collecting more china pieces to use for little get-togethers. The big hold up was that I wanted pieces with red. Well, it seems that the only china to be found with red in the design is Christmas china. Either that or people love it so much they don’t give it to thrift stores.

IMG_0959I don’t have a new china set of my own, a situation I hope to remedy in the future, but in the meantime I finally decided to give up on china with red in it, and just collect a few larger plates to mix and match.

IMG_0961Now every time I go in the thrift store I look to see if there’s a plate or two that strikes my fancy.

IMG_0962I love mixing and matching and stacking the plates. The plates can look so different when paired with another style that you notice new things in the design with every stack.