Persuasions #5, 1983                                                                                                                                            Pages 4-5


Interior: St. Nicholas Church, Steventon
Photograph ©Copyright Allan Soedring




St. Nicholas Church, Steventon, where Jane Austen was baptized and which she attended every Sunday for the first twenty-five years of her life, was in the charge of her family for over a century. First her father, the Rev. George Austen, who was rector for forty years, then her brother, the Rev. James Austen, and finally her nephew, the Rev. William Knight.

As most members of JASNA know, this wonderful little church situated half a mile from a remote village would be in serious danger of being declared in excess were it not for the devotion of the parishioners. Among their supporters may be counted the members of our Society who have generously contributed to the fund to preserve and restore this church.

The most pressing need at present is the repair of the roof and tower. Here is a quote from the Restoration Appeal:

During 1983 the Parish of Steventon, numbering only some seventy-four dwellings, hopes to raise in excess of £8,000. It is being achieved by major fund raising events, the generosity of private donations, and donations from members of the Jane Austen Society of England and the Jane Austen Society of North America. In addition we hope that further funds will be made available from our applications for Grant Aid.

The parishioners of Steventon appeal to their many friends to help fund the restoration of their historic church. To preserve it for those who wish to visit the church where Jane Austen and her family worshipped; for those that worship there today; but most importantly, to preserve it for future generations. To help us in this tremendous task our appeal is to you all. Your donation, no matter how big or small, will help and encourage us and will be acknowledged with our profound thanks.

When you send in your membership renewal, a donation of even a dollar or two would help. Or you can order a copy of “Come Into the Garden, Cassandra,” part of the proceeds of which go to Steventon. Joyce Bown extends a welcome to all from our Society who visit Steventon to call on her at Bassett’s Farm.

Mr. Bingley’s Friend

I have never understood
Quite how Mr. Darcy could
Tolerate the sisters Bingley –
As a pair, or even singly.
Much for friendship he endured;
For he also was immured
All those evenings with the boring
Elder sister’s husband snoring.

from page 8 in Come into the Garden, Cassandra



The above is a sample of one of the verses from Come into the Garden, Cassandra, by Patricia M. Shepherd. Mrs. Shepherd has kindly donated all proceeds from the sale of this charming little 24-page book to JASNA and St. Nicholas Church, Steventon. Cassandra is well-printed on creamy paper with a pretty green cover and is profusely illustrated by the Brock and Thomson drawings. Some of the subjects are: A Letter in Verse from the Rev. James Stanier Clark; Mrs. Austen’s nose; Henry Tilney and the use of the word ‘nice’; William Price’s opinion of Mrs. Norris; Charlotte Bronte and her opinion of JA, etc. etc. The cost is $3.00 postage paid, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping two worthy causes. It may be ordered from: Joan Austen-Leigh, Victoria, B.C.

We all owe an immense debt of thanks to Sally Costa, wife of our valiant president. During the past year Sally has nobly coped with the task of receiving, cataloguing and responding to several hundred membership renewals. Without the voluntary, dedicated, unpaid labour of people like Joe and Sally, our treasurer, Susan Schwartz, the regional coordinators and everyone else who gives time to JASNA, the Society would founder. The position of membership secretary has now been taken over by Diane Heim Levine.


Note: The color image of St. Nicholas Church has replaced the original black and white image for the on-line edition of this essay. C. Moss, JASNA Web Site Manager

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