Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jane Austen's Worthing

Jane Austen's Worthing: The Real SanditionJane Austen's Worthing: The Real Sandition by Antony Edmonds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Head over to Austenprose for my review of Jane Austen's Worthing by Antony Edmonds. Besides the wealth of historical information about the town, the book contains one of best euphemisms for death that I've run across. James Shearsmith, writing of the death of James Ogle:

"Upon the death of Mr. Ogle [Warwick House] became the property of his brother James Ogle, Esq. a gentleman held in much estimation for his politeness and urbanity, but who did not long enjoy it, having recently been destined to share the lot incidental to our mortal nature."

In addition to our lovely Jane, there are documented guest appearances in Worthing by the "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" Lord Byron and the slightly less dangerous poet Percy Shelley. Much later in the century Oscar Wilde also visited Worthing, but that's another story for another day.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jane Austen: Seascapes and Landscapes, Day 3

On Day 3, we woke up bright and early for our drive to Oxford only to find that the key to the hired coach had snapped off in the ignition switch. At last, a chance for us to act out some Ugly American dramas on our helpless and extremely apologetic tour guides. But, alas, the spirit of the calm and levelheaded heroines from Austen's novels (perhaps Elinor Dashwood mixed with Jane Bennet and Anne Elliot?) prevailed in our party and we filed back to the hotel dining room and drank tea until a replacement coach arrived.

This greatly delayed our morning and resulted in us having to take a very quick walking tour of Oxford that included St. John's College, where Jane's father and two of her brothers studied, as well as the famous Bodleian Library.

We grabbed a lunch on the run and headed south to Steventon for the rest of the afternoon. We visited St. Nicholas Church where Jane Austen's father was rector from 1761-1805.

The church steeple was added to the Norman tower after Austen's time.

Inside the church we viewed a copy of the famous marriage register that 12-year-old Jane Austen mischievously filled in with names of imaginary husbands.

Outside an ancient yew has stood for hundreds of years.

This visit to Jane Austen's beloved Steventon ended our day with smiles.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jane Austen: Seascapes and Landscapes, Day 2

A year ago today, we visited Godmersham Park and Goodnestone Park. It was drizzling most of the day, but we still enjoyed the gardens. We hiked across the wet grass, up a hill to visit a Grecian-inspired folly, and meandered through fruit and flower gardens. If we hadn't been wearing contemporary clothes, our dresses would have rivaled Lizzy Bennet's for lack of fastidiousness. Thankfully, there were no Bingley sisters to censure us!

Jane's brother Edward Austen Knight inherited Godmersham Park from his adoptive parents, Thomas and Catherine Knight, and lived there from 1797. Jane visited frequently and some believe that Godmersham may have been the inspiration for Mansfield Park.

Are we looking suitably impressed?

The Knight Family coat of arms carved in stone.

The espaliered fruit trees were beautiful.

My daughter took most of these photos, including this lovely rose. She sighs and says, "I took some awesome pictures!" whenever we look at photos from the trip.

I love to think of Jane taking a quiet walk here.

After our long walk, it was time to head to Goodnestone Park for lunch "in the stables." Well, the stables turned out to no longer be occupied by livestock; they had been converted into a rustic eating area. Lunch was excellent and dessert was no disappointment either.

Edward Austen Knight and his wife Elizabeth, who was the daughter of Sir Brook Bridges, the owner of the Goodnestone estate, spent their early married life in a cottage on the estate here before they moved to Godmersham.

JAFL fans: does this look familiar?