Life and Learning in Jane Austen’s Era
July 20-29, 2007
Members and guests enjoy cocktails at Crowe Hall.
The theme of the 2007 JASNA-sponsored tour to England, “Life and Learning in Jane Austen’s Era,” encompassed homes and schools associated with Austen and her family. The itinerary provided a complete view of the author’s life, beginning at St. Nicholas Church in Steventon, where Austen was baptized by her father, the parish rector. JASNA members also sat in the drawing room at 4 Sydney Place, the family’s residence in Bath, and explored the cottage in Chawton where Austen wrote her masterpieces. In Winchester they visited the house in which she died and afterwards laid roses at her grave in the Cathedral.
JASNA-sponsored trips provide access to homes and events that are not open to the public. Highlights included luncheon at Ibthorpe House, the beautiful home of Jane’s friends Mary and Martha Lloyd; dinner at Crowe Hall, an historic house near Bath; luncheon and a tour of Goodnestone Park and its magnificent gardens; and a visit to Godmersham, the Kent estate of Jane’s brother Edward. JASNA members socialized with their counterparts from the English Jane Austen Society in Winchester and London and were guests at the Society’s Annual General Meeting in Chawton. Descendants of Austen’s sailor brothers, Frank and Charles, served as gracious hosts in Sevenoaks and Lyme Regis. Austen scholars Deirdre Le Faye, Maggie Lane, and David Selwyn attended private events with the group.
The tour seamlessly wove Austen’s fiction with places she knew, creating a rich tapestry of the author’s life. Members walked the ramparts on a bright day in Portsmouth listening to excerpts from Mansfield Park; they looked out on a misty view from Box Hill while the picnic scene in Emma was read. Gathered at the foot of the Granny’s Teeth steps on the Cobb in Lyme Regis, they enjoyed a reading from Persuasion of the account of Louisa Musgrove’s fall.
Elizabeth Proudman, one of the finest Blue Badge guides in England, served as guide for the 2007 trip, and Mary Lou White was companion and organizer. JASNA-sponsored tours are provided by Hugh Whittaker of Pathfinders, an English travel agency.