In August, Anna, on the blog AUSTENISED, wrote about her visit to The Vyne – the Hampshire estate of the Chute family. I invite you to walk in Anna’s footsteps:
I cannot subscribe to a theory of “hostility” between Jane Austen and Eliza or William Chute, but welcome the beautiful shots of the house and its interior.
As to Jane and the Chutes: The crux lies in the liberal use at the time of the word ‘civil’, and I take into account Jane Austen’s wry humor – especially when writing to her sister. The sentence typically quoted is not a damning one, in my opinion. That Eliza Chute was drawn to James Austen (The Vyne’s local clergyman) must also be seen to play a part in the Austen family dynamics. Still, the Austen sisters did visit The Vyne; as well, the Chutes paid visits (as Jane’s comment attests) to the senior Austens at Steventon.
Want to walk in the FOOTSTEPS of Mary and Emma? A visit to The Vyne is one of the few “open to the public” homes which they used to inhabit, both women visited “Aunt Chute” and her home. Emma, being Eliza Chute’s niece from birth, visited more often – and came away with the ultimate prize: her husband Edward Austen!
Can’t get to the countryside outside of Basingstoke (Hampshire, England)? A ‘next best thing’ comes via this photo-laden blogspot, LoveIsSpeed. VERY rare are the interior shots.
Botanicals grace the walls of this little bedroom – and includes work by Margaret Meen, Augusta Smith (“mamma” to my Emma Austen), Lady Northampton, Emma Smith (my Emma’s “Aunt Emma”), and – of course! – Eliza Chute herself. Recent letters have tipped me off to how much Eliza Chute was addicted to painting.
- flash back: there once was a day when Eliza Chute was thought to have drawn Jane Austen’s portrait
The Botanicals are often painted upon Vellum; the few I’ve seen in the flesh are genuinely “etherial”.
LoveIsSpeed has some fantastic shots of the grounds, exterior, and some items of a recent special installation. I invite you to visit Aunt Chute yourself!
Should you wish to READ more about Eliza, Jane Austen, and The Vyne the best book out there is Rupert Willoughby’s Sherborne St. John and The Vyne in the Time of Jane Austen. This is a fascinating look at a period in the estate’s history that isn’t always heavily considered by the National Trust — ie, the VERY period of Eliza and William Chute.
Rupert Willoughby, who was very kind in offering up suggestions for getting a handful of Chute letters, has published several books on local Hampshire history. Among his books is Chawton: Jane Austen’s Village and Selborne: Gilbert White’s Village.
- Read about all Rupert Willoughby’s publications on his website.
- Rupert also offers readers interesting “historical” blog posts.
Reading is ALSO the ‘next best thing to being there. Jane Austen obviously agrees: