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October 21, 2009

Congrats to the Winners!

UPDATE (10/22): Congrats to Julia G., who won the last Jane Austen goody packet! Thanks to all of you who played the blog. trivia game!

We had three winners in two days for the Trivia Contest Giveaway. Congrats to Jennifer M., Kathryn Y., and Shannon R.! I still have one more card/key ring set to give away, so feel free to take a crack at the Q&A if you haven’t already!

Warmly,

Jennie

PS – Be sure to check Lindsay’s photographs over on the Deep South Images blog. She’s been posting!

October 16, 2009

Trivia Contest Giveaway!

Okay! Now it’s time to sharpen your wits and see how closely you’ve been paying attention! I’ve got four little giveaway packages from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Each package contains a commemorative keyring and a keepsake card celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s move to Chawton Cottage (card is blank inside and includes an envelope):

I have two of the cards on the left and two of the ones on the right, plus four keyrings. First four people to send in correct answers win a card and a keyring!

I have two of the cards on the left and two of the ones on the right, plus four keyrings. First four people to send in correct answers win a card and a keyring!

So, without further ado, here are the questions:

1. What was the first official event of the 2009 London Historical Costume Tour?

2. Which two ladies got to serve as models at Shakespeare’s Globe for “Ophelia’s” costume?

3. Which famous 19th-century church did my family attend the first Sunday?

4.  What was our first stop on Monday the 14th?

5. Which play did we see at Shakespeare’s Globe Monday night?

6. Who got to model Cathy Hay’s fabulous oak leaf gown?

7. What was the name of the special 1950s exhibit at Kensington Palace?

8. Who was our guest speaker at the Fan Museum’s Orangerie on Wednesday?

9. Name the two places we stopped to tour on our way to Bath.

10. What was the name of the group that performed Sunday night in Bath?

11. Name one BBC miniseries that used Lacock Village as a location.

12. Name two of the inns/pubs in Lacock Village.

Okay, that’s it! The first four people to send in correct answers will win! (Please don’t post your answers in the comments — be sure to use the feedback form.) I’ll announce them here on the blog as soon as I have them. :)

October 14, 2009

Charming Lacock Village

102_1333We gathered after breakfast Monday morning, missing a bunch of ladies who had either left the night before or who were staying on longer in England. Our coach driver loaded up our bags, and those of us heading back to London settled into our seats. All of us flying out that afternoon had enough time to stop through Lacock Village on the way, and we looked forward to seeing the site of favorite costume dramas like “Cranford” and A&E’s “Pride & Prejudice.” The morning was sunny, promising a pretty drive through Wiltshire. After a very short drive, we pulled into the parking area outside the village. Everyone was eager to hop out and see what lay beyond the trees shielding Lacock from view. We took the footpath and soon arrived next to the gate for magnificent Lacock Abbey. After pausing to snap some shots, we wended our way through this wonderful medieval village, enjoying all the cozy cottages and lovely inns and shops. This really is a fabulous location! There’s even a cottage you can rent for vacations–dreamy. [The first seven pictures below come from Lindsay's camera--thanks, Linds! The rest are my snapshots.]

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey

Looking down the main street, with the Red Lion Inn on the left (Recognize it? Picture Mr. Darcy gazing at in disgust by torchlight--the Meryton Assembly Rooms!)

Looking down the main street, with the Red Lion Inn on the left (Recognize it? Picture Mr. Darcy gazing at in disgust by torchlight--the Meryton Assembly Rooms!)

My husband stands in front of King John's Hunting Lodge, one of the oldest inns in Lacock.

My husband stands in front of King John's Hunting Lodge, one of the oldest inns in Lacock.

Miss Molly poses for a snap in costume, looking right at home!

Miss Molly poses for a snap in costume, looking right at home!

Gazing out across the fields of Wiltshire surrounding the village.

Gazing out across the fields of Wiltshire surrounding the village.

The parish church in Lacock

The parish church in Lacock

An ornate iron fence surrounds a tomb in the churchyard.

An ornate iron fence surrounds a tomb in the churchyard.

Looking down the nave of the church. I loved all the light streaming in from the leaded glass windows.

Looking down the nave of the church. I loved all the light streaming in from the leaded glass windows.

A look up at the timbered ceiling--beautiful!

A look up at the timbered ceiling--beautiful!

Ornate leaded glass windows down the side of the church...

Ornate leaded glass windows down the side of the church...

Windows above with the sun streaming down...

Windows above with the sun streaming down...

And the beautiful stained glass window...

And the beautiful stained glass window...

The lectern up at the front...

The lectern up at the front...

Looking through the front door out toward the graveyard...

Looking through the front door out toward the graveyard...

Side view of the church with my son walking amongst the tombs...

Side view of the church with my son walking amongst the tombs...

One of many beautiful half-timbered cottages.

One of many beautiful half-timbered cottages.

I love this one!

I love this one!

Looking through the gate toward the memorial chapel and graveyard...

Looking through the gate toward the memorial chapel and graveyard...

The town's war memorial for those lost in WWI and WWII. For a village this small, there was a surprisingly high number of losses in WWI.

The town's war memorial for those lost in WWI and WWII. For a village this small, there was a surprisingly high number of losses in WWI.

Looking up the alleyway next to The George Inn towards the woolen shop.

Looking up the alleyway next to The George Inn towards the woolen shop.

The George Inn itself.

The George Inn itself.

And we must showcase the flowers around the doorway!

And we must showcase the flowers around the doorway!

Looking 'round the corner from The George...

Looking 'round the corner from The George...

A charming stone cottage

A charming stone cottage

The Sign of the Angel -- inn and pub.

The Sign of the Angel -- inn and pub.

A closer view of King John's Hunting Lodge

A closer view of King John's Hunting Lodge

The shopkeeper across the street mentioned that a lot of the houses on this street had their upper rooms bumped out over the lower to fit large looms for weaving, which was a staple trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The shopkeeper across the street mentioned that a lot of the houses on this street had their upper rooms bumped out over the lower to fit large looms for weaving, which was a staple trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

After doing some shopping in the National Trust store and enjoying a light lunch in the village, we re-boarded our bus for the drive to Heathrow. It was so hard to believe our time in England had at last come to an end! We gazed out over the countryside to drink in all we could before our flight homeward. We can never say a final “goodbye” to England, as it really feels like home after all our visits. We say “au revoir” instead and hope we’ll see it again soon!

Now, I have a few goodies from the Jane Austen Festival to give away in my final blog post, so prepare yourself for a trivia contest! I’m going to post questions about the things we saw and did while in the UK, and the first four readers to send in correct answers will win the goodies. Stay tuned!

October 12, 2009

Sunday in Bath

chapelSeveral of us headed to Bradford-on-Avon to attend the Old Baptist Chapel there, where we know the pastor’s family and have visited before. It was a beautiful morning. Unfortunately, the train line was down, so we had to hop the bus, which took a while wending its way through the tiny streets of this adorable village. However, we made it on time and enjoyed a lovely service. At the end, a man from the congregation offered to find out when the return bus headed back to Bath, as our driver hadn’t been able to tell us. He came rushing back to say the bus was leaving in five minutes! We said hurried farewells, then dashed back across the street, only to see the bus pulling out. There wouldn’t be another for several hours. A family from the church was kind enough to immediately offer us transportation back to Bath–much faster by car than by bus! We arrived in time to make a couple of stops before our group was scheduled to meet at the Pump Room and Roman Baths.

img_2386Several street performers were in the Abbey yard next to the Pump Room, including a one-man band, two “living statues,” and a gent doing stunts with a unicycle and juggling flaming torches! We watched for a while as we waited for our group to gather. At the last minute, my husband realized he’d left his hat in a vintage clothing shop several blocks away, so I offered to go back for it while everyone else went through the Roman Baths (I got to see them in March). Here you see our group gathered in the upper hall next to the Pump Room, which affords a bird’s-eye view of the Baths. Several opted to take the audio tour, which is fascinating to listen to. Below are Lindsay’s shots from the tour:

Looking down into the main Bath (the water is bubbling and warm).

Looking down into the main Bath (the water is bubbling and warm).

Ana is enjoying herself!

Ana is enjoying herself!

Looking up at the Abbey from inside the Roman Baths

Looking up at the Abbey from inside the Roman Baths

Two of the historical interpreters wanted my mother-in-law, who is a Latin tutor, to teach them some useful Roman phrases to use on the job!

Two of the historical interpreters wanted my mother-in-law, who is a Latin tutor, to teach them some useful Roman phrases to use on the job!

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What a glorious day!

What a glorious day!

Someone managed to snap our photographer in front of the main bath.

Someone managed to snap our photographer in front of the main bath.

Beautiful Miss Cassie...

Beautiful Miss Cassie...

After retrieving the hat, I treated myself to tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves in the elegant Pump Room. Ah, bliss!

After retrieving the hat, I treated myself to tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves in the elegant Pump Room. Ah, bliss!

Lovely Miss Molly joins me at my table to drink in the trio's music.

Lovely Miss Molly joins me at my table to drink in the trio's music.

Master Chancey decides to "take the waters" in the Pump Room. (Hint: the water tastes like sulfur and iron and comes out of the fountain warm. Not my cup of tea, thanks!)

Master Chancey decides to "take the waters" in the Pump Room. (Hint: the water tastes like sulfur and iron and comes out of the fountain warm. Not my cup of tea, thanks!)

We had time after the Baths to stroll around some more and get some last shots of beautiful places:

Looking into the River Avon from above. That's Pultney Bridge on the far left.

Looking into the River Avon from above. That's Pultney Bridge on the far left.

A flower stall on Pultney Bridge. Heavenly!

A flower stall on Pultney Bridge. Heavenly!

Several ladies decided to attend the Baroque Dance demonstration at the Pavilion later that night, and I’ll share photos from that next time!

October 11, 2009

At the Fashion Museum in Bath

18th-century gown of silk with silver trimmings.

18th-century gown of silk with silver trimmings.

Now, at the outset, I have to apologize for how dark most of these photos are. It’s not Lindsay’s fault at all. The Bath Fashion Museum has a fabulous collection, but, unfortunately, its displays are just about the worst when it comes to overall layout and, most especially, good lighting. You spend most of your time squinting into glass cases that reflect your own image back better than they showcase what’s inside. Yet some displays have lighting so bright that you have problems with overexposure. Suzi has refused on principle to visit the museum for years–LOL! But, all griping aside, the collection is lovely, and I hope in future they improve the layout and design. There’s such amazing potential in the Assembly Rooms for gorgeous display; it’s bound to happen one of these days. In the meantime, here’s a peek at what Lindsay captured.

A selection of ladies' underthings through the centuries. The ornate slips (teddies) are from the 1920s.

A selection of ladies' underthings through the centuries. The ornate slips (teddies) are from the 1920s.

These incredibly ornate men's gauntlets are from the 1600s.

These incredibly detailed men's gauntlets are from the 1600s.

Gorgeous 18th-century saque-back gown, surrounded, oddly enough, by wine glasses. Go figure...

Gorgeous 18th-century saque-back gown, surrounded, oddly enough, by wine glasses. Go figure...

Sleeve detail from another 18th-century gown...

Sleeve detail from another 18th-century gown...

This Regency gown is absolutely covered in silvery beads.

This Regency gown is absolutely covered in silvery beads.

Early 1830s gown with sheer sleeves over the trademark wide, puffed sleeves of the Romantic era.

Early 1830s gown with sheer sleeves over the trademark wide, puffed sleeves of the Romantic era.

Mourning dress that belonged to Queen Victoria. She was incredibly short-statured.

Mourning dress that belonged to Queen Victoria. She was incredibly short-statured.

Ornate bustle gown from the 1880s.

Ornate bustle gown from the 1880s.

Stunning ballgown from the 1890s.

Stunning ballgown from the 1890s.

And a close-up of the luscious bodice!

And a close-up of the luscious bodice!

Wish I could show you more, but the lighting just didn’t give Lindsay enough help. :P Next time I’ll share pictures from our gorgeous Sunday in Bath!

October 10, 2009

Saturday in Bath: Jane Austen Everywhere!

img_2166After the overcast, chilly Friday, I didn’t have high hopes for good weather on Saturday, but I sure prayed for it! Lo and behold, we awoke Saturday morning to streaming sunshine and warming temperatures! As the day went on, we were treated to bright blue skies, gorgeous white clouds, and balmy temps in the 70s. It was amazing–a perfect day for the opening of the Jane Austen Festival and Grand Costumed Promenade. We ate a delicious breakfast at our B&B and dressed in all our Regency finery. What a beautiful group our ladies made as they walked to the starting point of the promenade! I may be a little biased, but I believe we had the most authentic and elegantly dressed group of ladies. It was such a delight to see them all. Above you see several of our ladies walking to the Pump Room, where the promenade would assemble. I did not walk in the parade but sat at a booth in Queen’s Square, where the promenade would end around 12:30pm. I had the pleasure of meeting over two dozen of my customers from all over the world, which was a great treat.

Without further ado, here are pictures from the promenade for your enjoyment!

Abby has the most incredible natural grace and beauty. Isn't she photogenic?

Abbe has the most incredible natural grace and beauty. Isn't she photogenic? Love the bonnet!

A bunch of our ladies (and my eldest son) gather for the promenade...

A bunch of our ladies (and my eldest son) gather for the official world record count at the Assembly Rooms. From left: Lindsay, Abbe, Catherine, Courtney, Molly, Katrina, and Cassie (with Master Chancey in front).

Courtney and Molly stop for a snap...

Courtney and Molly stop for a snap...

Another shot of our ladies--so many gorgeous outfits!

Another shot of our ladies--so many gorgeous outfits!

And another, this time adding Aylwen and Wendy on the right.

And another, this time adding my mother-in-law on the left and Aylwen and Wendy on the right.

Aha! We managed to capture Suzi with Aylwen and Wendy. Isn't her turban smashing? She got stopped for photos all day.

Aha! We managed to capture Suzi with Aylwen and Wendy. Isn't her turban smashing? She got stopped for photos all day.

The well-dressed Regency gent on his cell phone...

The well-dressed Regency gent on his cell phone...

Looks like they're ready to get moving!

Looks like they're ready to get moving!

The gent on the left made the outfits for everyone in his family!

The gent on the left made the outfits for everyone in his family!

All costumed participants gather at the Royal Crescent--409 in all, breaking the world's record for most people in Regency dress in one place at one time!

All costumed participants gather at the Royal Crescent--409 in all, breaking the world's record for most people in Regency dress in one place at one time!

My wonderful husband and sweet mother-in-law pose for a shot at the Royal Crescent.

My wonderful husband and sweet mother-in-law pose for a shot at the Royal Crescent.

Back in Queen's Square, several ladies relax to enjoy the lovely weather. From left: Becca, Ana, Bethany, and Sarah.

Back in Queen's Square, several ladies relax to enjoy the lovely weather. From left: Becca, Ana, Bethany, and Sarah.

My son thoroughly enjoyed his day as a Regency boy, including climbing trees in Queen's Square!

My son thoroughly enjoyed his day as a Regency boy, including climbing trees in Queen's Square!

And leaping down!

And leaping down!

Cassie, Wendy, Katrina, and Catherine enjoy "Tea with Mr. Darcy" in the Jane Austen Centre's Tea Rooms. Yum!

Cassie, Wendy, Katrina, and Catherine enjoy "Tea with Mr. Darcy" in the Jane Austen Centre's Tea Rooms. Yum!

Karen and Lily have a sunny spot next to the window.

Karen and Lily have a sunny spot next to the window.

I wish you could see Lily's amazing outfits in person. She and Karen had the most stunning hand-blocked fabrics and created beautiful garments.

I wish you could see Lily's amazing outfits in person. She and Karen had the most stunning hand-blocked fabrics and created beautiful garments.

All in all, we had a fantastic morning. It was just a perfect day for walking around Bath (which is such a walkable city). Next time I’ll share the photos Lindsay took Saturday afternoon in the Fashion Museum at the Assembly Rooms. :)

WHOOPS! Here are pictures I took that I forgot to post the first time around!

The S&S Patterns booth in Queen's Square, complete with my demi-mannequin and her outfits!

The S&S Patterns booth in Queen's Square, complete with my demi-mannequin and her outfits!

The bonnet/hat booth next to me. They had some fabulous bonnet forms that we have a hard time finding in the States.

The bonnet/hat booth next to me. They had some fabulous bonnet forms that we have a hard time finding in the States.

My son, mother-in-law, and husband. Nope, doesn't seem we managed to remember to get a picture with all of us in it! Fiddle-dee-dee!

My son, mother-in-law, and husband. Nope, doesn't seem we managed to remember to get a picture with all of us in it! Fiddle-dee-dee!

I had to grab a few shots of Constance's (Suzi's friend, who came with us) fantastic Spencer jacket. It was my favorite out of all I saw.

I had to grab a few shots of Constance's (Suzi's friend, who came with us) fantastic Spencer jacket. It was my favorite out of all I saw.

Full-length view...

Full-length view...

Sleeve detail. Yummy!

Sleeve detail. Yummy!

October 8, 2009

Friday Trip to Bath – Part II

102_1283thAfter our delightful tour of Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, we boarded our coach for the short drive to Winchester, where Jane is buried in the cathedral. The sky still looked fairly ominous, but no rain fell as we pulled into town. At left you see the imposing town hall with its central clock tower and Gothic architecture. The cathedral is directly behind this building, and just a short walk up the street, the bustling shops of Winchester await. Because we were already behind schedule, we asked everyone to grab a quick lunch at meet back at the cathedral by 2:30. It was really hard to just rush through the town center, though! Winchester is charming and really fun to browse. There are antiques shops, bookstores, cute boutiques, and all kinds of goodies. But we tried to hustle. My son and I grabbed a quick sandwich at a coffee shop and  began our walk toward the cathedral, meeting up with my husband and mother-in-law on the way. I couldn’t resist popping into one more shop before heading to the church, so they went on without me to wait for the rest of our group. We finally had everyone together around 2:40 and entered the cathedral.

Winchester Cathedral towers above us.

Winchester Cathedral towers above us.

Looking down the side of the cathedral toward the tower.

Looking down the side of the cathedral toward the tower.

A head-on view of the cathedral with its massive stained glass window.

A head-on view of the cathedral with its massive stained glass window.

The stained glass window seen from the inside.

The stained glass window seen from the inside.

From the nave, looking down toward the altar.

From the nave, looking down toward the altar.

Karen and Lily take a closer look into one of the side chambers.

Karen and Lily take a closer look into one of the side chambers.

Looking up at some very early frescoes adorning the ceiling of one of the side chambers.

Looking up at some very early frescoes adorning the ceiling of one of the side chambers.

And a close-up...

And a close-up...

And we find Jane's grave beneath her memorial window...

And we find Jane's grave beneath her memorial window...

Here’s the text of Jane’s Grave in case you can’t read the photo:

In memory of
JANE AUSTEN,
youngest daughter of the late
Revd. GEORGE AUSTEN,
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County.
She departed this Life on the 18th July 1817,
aged 41, after a long illness supported with
the patience and the hopes of a Christian.

The benevolence of her heart,
the sweetness of her temper, and
the extraordinary endowments of her mind
obtained the regard of all who knew her, and
the warmest love of her intimate connections.

Their grief is in proportion to their affection
they know their loss to be irreparable,
but in the deepest affliction they are consoled
by a firm though humble hope that her charity,
devotion, faith and purity have rendered
her soul acceptable in the sight of her
REDEEMER.

Plaque beneath the memorial window...

Plaque beneath the memorial window...

102_1281We spent quite a bit of time in the cathedral, as it has a lot to see. I only wished the choir had been singing during our time there so everyone could enjoy the amazing acoustics in this place. They are incredible. The cathedral is well worth seeing if you are a history buff. King Alfred the Great (he of the English Common Law) ordered the building of the original Winchester Cathedral (the foundations of which you can see right next to this cathedral). He is buried a short distance away in another spot. My son got the children’s map guide to do a scavenger hunt around the whole cathedral, finding out-of-the-way things you wouldn’t notice unless someone pointed them out. We finally tore ourselves away to re-board our coach and get underway for Bath. I snapped the pictures below of the Abbey Gardens, which are so lovely.

102_1279102_1280

Final view of the town hall...

Final view of the town hall...

We drove off toward Somerset, passing Stonehenge on the way. Unfortunately, they now charge you ten pounds just to stop and park, so we didn’t stop. Everyone with cameras pulled them out and took flying snaps as we passed by!

img_2144

My husband tests our group with Jane Austen film trivia questions as we make our way to Bath. It was a close contest!

My husband tests our group with Jane Austen trivia questions as we make our way to Bath. It was a close contest!

img_2154At last we pulled into Bath, two hours behind schedule but glad to have made it. We were already late for our supper reservations, so we just dumped our bags at our beautiful B&B before jumping into taxis to head for Tilley’s Bistro and Sally Lunn’s. The proprietors at Tilley’s were kind enough to give us our special “early dinner” rate, even though we were five minutes past the cut-off time. At left you see half our group “below stairs” at Tilley’s. One of our group decided to go to the pre-festival gathering at the Jane Austen Centre, while the rest opted to eat at the wonderful Sally Lunn’s next door to Tilley’s:

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We all enjoyed a leisurely (and delicious) dinner before heading back to Brooks Guest House for the night. We had much to anticipate, as the Grand Costumed Promenade would kick off the Jane Austen Festival on the morrow! Next time I’ll share photos from our Saturday in Bath!

Bath Abbey, its splendor gloriously lit up at night.

Bath Abbey, its splendor gloriously lit up at night.

October 6, 2009

For everyone who asked about Miss Molly's dress…

Miss Molly and friend at the Fan Museum... (Photo Courtesy of Amanda)

Miss Molly and friend at the Fan Museum... (Photo Courtesy of Amanda)

I’ve received more questions here and on Facebook about Molly’s lovely gown, which she wore in Greenwich during the tour. Molly borrowed the dress from a friend and has graciously gotten the information from her on how it was made! Here you go:

A young lady named Anna used to frequent the S&S Message Forum, and she was an 1860s lover. She made some of the most gorgeous costumes from that era I’ve seen and had many historical balls. In fact, she’s the one that inspired us to try and get balls started here. But I digress… She made a simply stunning white and pink ball gown for a friend of hers that my sister just fell in love with. You can see pictures at http://www.thegracefullady.com/ladiessociety/christmas_ball04.htm , third row down.

That gown was my starting point. I really love working with Sandra Altman’s amazing patterns, so I choose Past Patterns‘ #704 1863 Ball Gown Bodice as a base for the bodice. The sleeves she just wanted big and puffy, and that was simple enough for me to draft. Anna also had instructions (click to see them) on one of her websites for making a historically accurate 1860s skirt, so I used those for the skirt.

For the trim at the neckline, I made it up as I went. Scrap crepe for the blue center and white satin ribbon for the edges. It took a little tweaking for it to hit exactly where I wanted it.

Thanks for sharing, Molly!

October 3, 2009

Fun blog giveaways coming soon!

bookm1lgWe’re finally unpacking and sorting out all the goodies we brought home from England, and I’ve found several extras I got while in Bath. The Jane Austen Centre gave away goody bags to everyone who had a ticket for the Promenade, so we got a bunch. That means I have some fun Janeite extras to give away to blog readers. I’ll figure out a fun trivia contest or something so you can try for a prize. :)

Stay tuned!

October 2, 2009

Friday Trip to Bath – Part I

Getting settled in our coach...

Getting settled in our coach...

Friday morning we all gathered bright and early in the hotel lobby with our luggage in tow, ready to board our private coach. Unfortunately, our driver got hung up in West London traffic and didn’t make it to the hotel until nearly an hour later, so, after loading all the bags and settling in, we were already an hour and a half behind schedule. I called Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton as we drove away to let them know we’d be running late, and we bade a fond farewell to South Kensington and London. It had been a marvelous week, and we all looked forward to the delights of the English Countryside, traveling through beautiful Surrey, Hampshire, and Wiltshire on our way to Bath in Somerset.

The day was overcast and rather gloomy looking, and when we pulled into Chawton, the temperature was decidedly chilly. Most everyone pulled on sweaters and jackets, and I hoped this wasn’t a prediction of the weather for our weekend in Bath! But the grey skies couldn’t dampen our spirits, and we eagerly made our way to the lovely little cottage Jane Austen called home for eight years.

We're here! Calling on Miss Austen...

We're here! Calling on Miss Austen...

My sweet mother-in-law, overseas for the first time, is thrilled to visit Jane Austen's house!

My sweet mother-in-law, overseas for the first time, is thrilled to visit Jane Austen's house!

A glimpse of the garden behind the house with its ivy-covered wall...

A glimpse of the garden behind the house with its ivy-covered wall...

Miss Molly stands in the gateway of the garden wall...

Miss Molly stands in the gateway of the garden wall...

img_2002Since the last time my husband and I visited Chawton in 2007, some amazing improvements have been made. The museum foundation has built a beautiful new visitor’s center in the back garden, using period architecture to make it blend in to the whole. The stables have been remodeled to house the new and vastly improved gift shop, which overflows with all things Austen. And the house itself has undergone some very tasteful renovations, using period wallpapers and paint colors to brighten the rooms and make them more like they would have looked in Jane’s day. The only unfortunate “update” is the addition of several inauthentic costumes sprinkled throughout the house. Our dear Suzi walked through the house grimacing and pointing out errors — such as the Tudor lace over modern chiffon on the “1820s” ballgown reproduction you see at right. Another mannequin boasted an empire-waist “work dress” with a modern kitchen apron tied around its natural waistline, a full foot below the waist of the gown itself! Much muttering and shaking of heads…. Happily, there were several authentic pieces on display as well, plus a couple of movie costumes, which I’ll share below.

The kitchen, which is at the back of the house.

The kitchen, which is at the back of the house.

The reception room, which includes a secretary filled with books from Rev. Austen's library and many first-edition volumes of Jane's.

The reception room, which includes a secretary filled with books from Rev. Austen's library and many first-edition volumes of Jane's.

The dining room/front room, which has the china set used by the Austen family. Jane's writing desk is tiny and tucked over in the corner next to the window, where she could observe village life.

The dining room/front room, which has the china set used by the Austen family. Jane's writing desk is tiny and tucked over in the corner next to the window, where she could observe village life.

One of the upstairs bedrooms with a costume from "Becoming Jane" (a film I do NOT recommend, by the way!)

One of the upstairs bedrooms with a costume from "Becoming Jane" (a film I do NOT recommend, by the way!)

Detail of Tom LeFroy's costume from "Becoming Jane"

Detail of Tom LeFroy's costume from "Becoming Jane"

The quilt hand-stitched by Jane, her sister Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen.

The quilt hand-stitched by Jane, her sister Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen.

A very pretty dotted Swiss bib-front gown in the back hallway upstairs.

A very pretty dotted Swiss bib-front gown in the back hallway upstairs.

Okay, and now for some garden shots for all of you who love English gardens as much as I do!

Okay, and now for some garden shots for all of you who love English gardens as much as I do!

Beautiful blooms even in September!

Beautiful blooms, even in September!

Still more blooms...

Still more blooms...

Stopping to smell the roses climbing next to the back door...

Stopping to smell the roses climbing next to the back door...

And, finally, Lindsay had to capture a shot of Cassandra across the street at the tea room named after Jane’s sister. It’s an absolutely wonderful place to eat, but they don’t do large groups (sigh), so we had to push on to Winchester…

She's right at home!

She's right at home!

Next time: Winchester Cathedral and Bath!

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