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

woensdag 1 april 2015

History of Chawton House.

Edward Austen’s inheritance of Chawton and Godmersham from his benefactor Thomas Knight is well documented.  Thomas Knight and his new bride, Catherine, were on a tour of their recently inherited estates.  At Steventon, they visited their distant cousin, the Rev. George Austen and his family. When Thomas and Catherine failed to produce any heirs, they officially adopted the sixteen-year-old Edward in 1783 (Nokes 72-73).  It is a little known fact that for over one hundred sixty years, the Knight family were also owners of a third estate in addition to Chawton and Godmersham:  Abbots Barton and Abbey Farm, the former Hyde Abbey’s lands in Winchester.

The owners of the three estates were affluent landowners and many served as members of Parliament.  Financially savvy gentry expanded their estates by carefully considered marriages between important local families and sometimes through the consolidation of an estate by means of land exchanges. jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/

The Chawton estate dates to at least the late Saxon period. After the Norman Conquest william the Conqueror granted the estate to Hugh de Port, and Chawton remained a de Port possession for over 300 years. Henry III and the future Edward I were frequent visitors during the 13th century. The estate passed down through the male line for 3 centuries, then passed through the female line for another two centuries until, in 1551, it was sold to John Knight, whose family had been tenant farmers at Chawton for centuries. John's son, also named John, replaced the medieval manor house with the attractive Elizabethan building we can see today. britainexpress

In 1524 William Knight had a lease of the ' cite of the Manor place ' and farm of Chawton, with the West Park, for which he paid 25.

In April 1551, the land was sold for £180 to John Knight, whose family had been tenant farmers in Chawton since the thirteenth century and who had prospered sufficiently to wish to acquire a large estate. The medieval manor house was replaced by John Knight’s grandson, also called John, with the largely Elizabethan house that can be seen today. The building work began c.1583 and continued until the mid 1660s to create the house as it stands today. chawtonhouse

Some times later.
Sir Richard had no children, and devised his estate to the grandson of his aunt Dorothy, who had married Michael Martin of Ensham in Oxfordshire. This grandson, Richard (Martin) Knight, his brother Christopher, and his sister Elizabeth, were all owners in succession, the last named for much the longest period. She was also the most prominent figure of the three in our history; for fate directed that she should have the final disposition of the estate. archive/stream/chawtonmanoritso00austuoft/chawton

Anne Mynne
The story of the Knight family’s involvement in Winchester begins with Anne Mynne. Anne’s husband, George Mynne of Woodcote Park, Epsom, was described as a merchant, draper, clothier, royal servant, politician, ironmaster, moneylender, clerk in Chancery, and extortionist (Malden 271-78).3  Following George’s death in 1648, his trustees managed his estate on behalf of his widow, Anne.  In 1649 Anne purchased the reversionary interest of the Manor of Steventon in Hampshire from Thomas Brocas (Page 171-74).  In 1650 she purchased the manor belonging to Edward Darcy in Epsom.

 In 1650 Anne Mynne purchased Abbots Barton from the financially-ruined owner.  On Anne Mynne’s death in 1663 her estates passed to her daughters:  Elizabeth (wife of Richard Evelyn5) and Lady Anne (wife of Sir John Lewkenor of West Dean, Sussex).  The Epsom estate passed to Elizabeth, Abbots Barton to Lady Anne, and Steventon was shared between them.  Under the law at that time, Sir John was seen as the owner of all Lady Anne’s wealth and property.  Sir John died in 1669 (aged 46) and Lady Anne (then aged 35), as was common for a young widow, soon married again.  Her second husband, Sir William Morley of Halnaker, Sussex, was also a rich and respected member of the gentry (Page 171-74). archive/Chawton

Elizabeth Martin
When Lady Anne died in 1704, all her estates, including Abbots Barton, passed to her son John.  John died in 1706 with no legitimate heirs, and Abbots Barton passed to Elizabeth Martin, a distant cousin, through her parents Michael and Frances (née Lewkenor).  Elizabeth already owned extensive property, inheriting lands at Chawton in 1702 after the deaths of her brothers, Richard and Christopher.

The Knight family had owned Chawton from 1524 when William Knight had taken on the lease of the manor place and farm.  When his descendent, Sir Richard Knight died in 1679 without heirs, the estate passed to the grandson of his aunt, Dorothy.

Elizabeth Martin was a strong woman with a sense of duty and took an active part in managing her estates (Austen-Leigh and Knight 124).  Her detailed accounts have survived at Hampshire Record Office.8  As a requirement of her inheritance, Elizabeth changed her name to Knight as her brothers in their turn had done.  When Elizabeth married her cousin William Woodward (son of Elizabeth Lewkenor, her mother’s sister), he too changed his name to Knight, thus perpetuating the Knight family name even though the last direct heir had died in 1679 (Burke 442-44; Austen-Leigh and Knight 122-24, 127-29).  Four years after William Knight (né Woodward) died in 1721, Elizabeth married Bulstrode Peachey, who was at one time MP for Midhurst.  Her second husband also relinquished his family name, becoming known as Peachey Knight; such was the power of the inheritance conditions. Elizabeth died in 1737, leaving no surviving heirs and no immediate relatives.

The freehold has remained in the Knight family ever since the sixteenth century, though on many occasions the ownership passed laterally and sometimes by female descent, requiring several heirs to change their surnames to Knight. Sir Richard Knight, who inherited at the age of two in 1641, had no children and he left the estate to a grandson of his aunt, Richard (Martin) Knight. His brother, and then his sister, Elizabeth, inherited in their turn. During the first part of the eighteenth century, Elizabeth undertook the further development of the house and gardens. She married twice, but again no children were born, and when she died the estate passed to her cousin Thomas Brodnax May Knight, who united it with his own large fashionable property in Kent, Godmersham Park.
In 1781, Thomas Knight II inherited the house. He and his wife Catherine had no children of their own, but through family connections with Jane Austen’s father, the Reverend George Austen, they eventually adopted Jane’s third brother, Edward, in the year of his sixteenth birthday.   Edward Austen eventually took over management of the estates at Godmersham and Chawton in 1797, living mostly at Godmersham and letting the Great House at Chawton to gentlemen tenants.

In 1826, the house became the home of Edward (Austen) Knight’s son, also Edward, who carried out extensive work on the estate, building a new Servants Hall, a Billiard Room wing and replacing some of the wooden sash windows with stone casements. On his death the title passed to his son Montagu who spent considerable amounts of time and money continuing the restoration and modernising of the house, with the influence of Edwin Lutyens being apparent in many areas. As Montagu was childless, his nephew, Lionel, inherited the estate, followed by his son Edward Knight III. Inheritance taxes and increased running costs following the war then started a long period of decline, the sale of most of the outlying manor and the subdivision of the house into flats.

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