Yesterday was a pretty relaxed day. My wife and I chose to stay in Basingstoke because it’s a good base from which to look around at Jane Austen’s world. I’m a very enthusiastic fan of Jane Austen, which has always made me wonder whether I’m betraying my masculinity. But there you have it. It is what it is. (And other clichés.) She’s very funny, very acute, and . . . well, very deep down, I guess I really am a romantic at heart.
We spent much of the day in and around the house in Chawton where she, her mother, and her sister lived for years, and where she did most of her writing. It was fun to see the actual table at which she wrote. I’ve never been here before. It’s now the “Jane Austen Centre,” with displays and a short film and so forth, and with considerable memorabilia from the period and from the Austen family itself.
Afterwards, we participated in evensong at St. Nicholas Church, Chawton, with members of the Jane Austen Society, who were there for their annual meeting, were just winding things up for the day. Jane’s mother and sister are buried in the churchyard, to the back by the sanctuary.
Then we drove to see the very (and I mean very) isolated church — also dedicated to St. Nicholas — at Steventon, where Jane’s father served as vicar. Getting to the church involved several miles of extremely narrow roads across beautiful farmland. They were bordered by tall hedges, and often covered over by dense trees, and, when we met oncoming traffic, one or the other of us had to back up to a wide spot in order for the other to pass.
A very pleasant day, in very pleasant country, thinking about many hours of very pleasant reading and viewing.
Posted from Basingstoke, England