Say it Ain’t So: Winchester flooding (2014)

February 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm (news) (, , )

News out of Britain has been rife this past weekend; now comes reports of the River Itchen overflowing its banks.

itchen

I remember taking this riverside walk, often!

Downtown Winchester – with its towering Cathedral (resting place of Jane Austen) – is not super far from this spot. The Itchen snakes through so many places I remember well, from my two months in the area, working at the Hampshire Record Office, with the letters and diaries of Emma, Mamma, Fanny, Eliza Chute, et al.

Here in New England, we’ve nothing but snow (and rain is now predicted for us, later in the week…); in Olde England nothing but rain. There is nothing worse than drastic flooding. Must get letters out to my friends, and see how they are fairing.

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My Austen Summer, 2007

May 17, 2013 at 9:29 am (a day in the life, diaries, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Last year, about this time, I promised to share with readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen my own research diaries, kept during a stay in Winchester, England, in order to visit the Hampshire Record Office. Now, thanks to Memoirture, where I can post these private thoughts in a slightly less “public” medium of a social network, I hope to get this “project in process” online. [UPDATE (April 2015): Memoirture has been taken down; I’m not sure I’ll repost the diaries anywhere.]

mary_emma_entry

By May 2007, I had interlibrary-loaned the microfilmed diaries of Lady Smith (image above, 1829); visited Duke University to transcribe Mary Gosling’s pre-marriage diaries; ordered the microfilming of Sir Charles Joshua Smith’s late diaries (1826-30). Now it was a chance, I hoped, to learn more about Mary’s life among the Smith family. I had slowly built-up the two families: parents and siblings for both Mary and Charles, and even placed Emma Smith within the circle of Jane Austen. I was writing, and hoping to have published, a story of my two girls.

I had left my job, and pitched headlong onto a plane and into the spare room of a stranger whom I had never met. I would live with Chris for two months. During those two months I met people like Rowland and Peggy — lifelong Hampshire natives; and visited Chawton Cottage with them. I was befriended by Helen Lefroy, and been taken by her to a wonderful luncheon with an entertaining guest speaker, speaking on… who else but JANE AUSTEN! I was given the opportunity to speak to a group in Kinwarton about my dear Fanny Seymour. And I typed and transcribed my fingers to the bone. Letters, cross-written letters! Diaries, the daily life of my Emma and all her siblings.

1833 letter-2

I had a favorite spot, sitting every day – Monday through Saturday – by the window. You’ll undoubtedly read some gripes about those around me, but at present the diary is rather prosaic: flying from my home in Vermont to London Heathrow; getting from Heathrow to Winchester. Meeting Chris and seeing “my home” for the first time. Reading – “in the flesh” – my first letters and diaries from Mary and Emma. The diaries were so TINY. At one point I realized I had all the generations: a Letter written by Lady Cunliffe (Mary’s maternal grandmother), Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), Mary Smith (my diarist), and Mimi Smith (elder daughter of Mary and Charles).

UPDATE January 2018 – the Memoirture website is no more (the following links do NOT work); I lost the photos & links, but I have the original “word” documents. Part I is up on this blog. Others will follow in the coming weeks.

UPDATE 5/19/13: Part 2 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online – an account at Memoirture is FREE; you must be logged in to enlarge photos, click on links, and make comments.  At present, all parts will be viewable by the public; future plans will limit parts TWO and beyond to “contacts”.

UPDATE 5/25/13: Part 3 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online.

UPDATE 8/19/13: Part 4 of “My Austen Summer, 2007” is now online. My father’s birthday; laughter, reading Mamma Smith’s letters; British weather: rain…

morning dresses

Hear part of a letter, written in January 1797, on YouTube

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Jane Austen’s Business

February 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Or, James Austen’s Shopping Spree:

A most useful account of soon-to-be new husband James Austen, eldest brother of Jane, when he was setting up a household with his first wife, Anne Mathew (mother of Anna Austen Lefroy), in 1792. The list (and costs) make for interesting reading.

The purveyor was RING BROTHERS of BASINGSTOKE; among their many clients: The Chutes of The Vyne. The company ledgers reside in the Hampshire Record Office (Winchester), although this list is taken from the delightful article written by Edward Copeland entitled “The Austens and the Elliots: A Consumer’s Guide to Persuasion (in: McMaster & Stovel, eds., Jane Austen’s Business: Her World and Her Profession). Ring Brothers is the same firm from which came the beds Rev. Austen purchased for his two daughters, as well as a little writing table.

Among the furniture items listed for purchase by James Austen:

A 2-foot 10-inch Mahogany Pembroke table on casters (£1 18s)
An Oval Mahogany Card Table, lined in green cloth (£2 2s)
2 Mahogany Convenient Stools (£1 11s)
2 Mahogany beds on casters (£4 4s)
A 4-poster bed on casters (£1 18s 6d)

Household “necessities” include a Dumb waiter on casters (£2 2s)
2 Mahogany Face Screens on Claws (£1 1s)
flat irons
a twenty-gallon tub
a deal ironing-board
a nutmeg grater
and “other backstairs necessities” (costs: unspecified by Copeland)

Another day evident found James bringing home such items as:
Best Urn Topped Shovel Tongs & Poker (8s)

My favorites are the eventual “extravagances”:
a clock — “arch head’ model, with a walnut case (£7)
sopha – “with all the extras of covers, pads, pillows” (£7)

I can’t wait to delve more into the Ring Brothers’ files at HRO. Another item for my list!

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