Quote Jane

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

zaterdag 12 juli 2014

Godmersham Park and Tonbridge

Godmersham was inherited by Jane's brother Edward from the childless Knights. Jane and Cassandra were frequent visitors to both houses, and Jane worked on several of her novels while staying at Godmersham. She drew on her experiences in Kent for her descriptions of her fictional grand houses. When the Reverend George Austen died, Edward offered a choice of houses to his mother and sisters. One was in Wye, and the other was Chawton Cottage.   


The Austen family originated in the Horsmonden area, and the Reverend George Austen was born in Tonbridge, attended Tonbridge School, and returned for a time as a master.

The Upper School at Tonbridge School, where George Austen taught tonbridgehistory

His widowed and penniless grandmother, Elizabeth Weller, showed great resourcefulness in taking up a place as a matron and housekeeper at Sevenoaks School to ensure that all her sons received a good education.

Jane's brother Edward was adopted by the Knight family as a child and grew up on Godmersham Park Estate. He inherited Godmersham Park and with his wife Elizabeth, made it his family home. Jane was a frequent visitor to Edward's home and the inspirational surroundings and social environment it had to offer. She was particularly fond of Edward and Elizabeth's eldest daughter, her much loved niece Fanny with whom she exchanged intimate correspondence. Copies of some of Jane's letters to Fanny are on display at The Godmersham Park Heritage Centre, along with other interesting treasures which have been collected and conserved for the Parishes of Godmersham and Crundale, which the Centre has been established to serve. (Visits to the Heritage Centre can be made by arrangement with the Administrator as follows: Rebecca Lilley tel: 01227 732272

Some of Jane’s letters written from Godmersham give the flavour of the place as it was in those days:

""We live in the Library except at Meals & have a fire every Eveng … I am now alone in the Library, Mistress of all I survey – at least I may say so & repeat the whole poem if I like it, without offence to anybody … At this present time I have five Tables, Eight and twenty chairs & two fires all to myself … Yesterday passed quite à la Godmersham … James and Mary are much struck with the beauty of the place … The Comfort of the Billiard Table here is very great. – It draws all the Gentlemen to it whenever they are within, especially after Dinner, so that my Br Fanny & I have the Library to ourselves in delightful quiet … Half an hour before breakfast – (very snug, in my own room, lovely morng, excellent fire, fancy me) … In another week I shall be at home – & then, my having been at Godmersham will seem like a Dream … But in the meantime for Elegance & Ease & Luxury.” jasna.


Edward (1767-1852) was was adopted in the early 1780′s by rich childless cousins of the Austens, Thomas and Catherine Knight. He was sent by them on the “grand tour” of continental Europe in 1786-1788, and eventually inherited their estate of Godmersham, Kent, and took the last name of “Knight”. In 1791, he married Elizabeth Bridges. Two years later the couple welcomed their first child, Fanny. Unfortunately for the happy couple, Elizabeth died when Fanny was not yet sixteen (shortly after her 11th confinement). Fanny’s aunts, Cassandra and Jane, who had once been occasional visitors, now took on a much more involved and motherly role in the lives of their nieces and nephews. Cassandra, especially, spent months at a time at the family estate, Godmersham, tending to the needs of her young charges, while her brother grieved the loss of his wife.
For Jane, the plight of young Fanny was especially worrisome, as she considered her new role in the family:

Soon after his wife’s death, Edward inherited a house and property in Chawton and was able to offer the nearby cottage to his mother and sisters. This close proximity to the family they loved so much must have only deepend the intimacy of the two. fanny-austen-knight-knatchbull
Austen werd geboren in Hampshire. Haar vader was een geestelijke. Het grootste deel van haar leven bleef zij in haar geboortestreek. Austen had zes broers en een oudere zuster, Cassandra, met wie zij zeer hecht was. Het enige onbetwiste portret van Jane Austen is een gekleurde schets die door Cassandra werd gemaakt en nu in de National Portrait Gallery in Londen hangt. In 1801 verhuisde de familie naar Bath. In 1802 werd Austen ten huwelijk gevraagd door de rijke Harris Bigg-Wither en zij stemde toe; de volgende dag deelde ze echter mee dat zij haar woord niet kon houden en trok haar instemming in. De reden hiervoor is niet bekend, maar Austen is nooit getrouwd. Na de dood van haar vader in 1805 woonden Jane, haar zuster en haar moeder daar nog verscheidene jaren tot zij in 1809 naar Chawton verhuisden. Hier had haar rijke broer Edward een landgoed met een plattelandshuisje, dat hij aan zijn moeder en zusters schonk (dit huis is tegenwoordig open voor het publiek). Zelfs nadat zij naam gemaakt had als romanschrijfster bleef zij in relatieve stilte leven, maar haar gezondheid ging sterk achteruit. Er wordt nu aangenomen dat zij de ziekte van Addison had, waarvan toen de oorzaak nog onbekend was. Ze reisde naar Winchester om behandeling te zoeken, maar stierf daar en werd begraven in de kathedraal.
Tot Austens beroemdste werk behoort de roman Emma. Het boek wordt vaak aangehaald vanwege de perfectie van vorm. Moderne critici blijven ook nieuwe perspectieven ontdekken op het scherpe commentaar van Austen betreffende de klasse van jonge, ongehuwde, aristocratische Engelse vrouwen in de vroege 19e eeuw.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Fashion - Regency 1

Edward Austen Leigh wrote down this description of Jane's appearence in the years just after the family left Southampton.

"She was tall and slender; her face was rounded with a clear brunette complexion and bright hazel eyes.

Her curly brown hair escaped all round her forehead, but from the time of her coming to live at Chawton she always wore a cap, except when her nieces had her in London and forbade it."

Henry Austen said of his sister, " Her stature rather exceeded the middle height; her carriage anad deportment were quiet but graceful; her complexion of the finest texture, it might with truth be said that her eloquent blood spoke through her modest cheek." Henry applied these lines to Jane: " Her pure and eloquent blood spake in her cheeks and so distinctly wrought that you had almost said her body thought."

Austen's niece Caroline recollected: "As to my aunt's personal appearance, hers was the first face I can remember thinking pretty. Her face was rather round than long, she had a bright, but not a pink colour—a clear brown complexion, and very good hazel eyes. Her hair, a darkish brown, curled naturally, it was in short curls around her face. She always wore a cap