Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Day of Amazing Architecture and Textiles

Today is the third full day of our Jane Austen itinerary and I have seen more than I ever dreamed of!

This morning we visited Sudeley Castle and Gardens near Winchcombe in the Cotswolds.  What a beautiful historic castle in a gorgeous landscape.  Once again we have been blessed with the most gorgeous fine and warm weather. This has made all our photos so special.

The castle has an incredible and varied history, being associated with many English monarchs of the past including Richard III, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles I.  It had fallen into disrepair by the nineteenth century but was rescued and restored by the Dent family, wealthy Victorian glove makers. They have transformed the castle and grounds and opened them to the public.

The grounds are manicured and spectacular with lots of different garden areas featuring English cottage garden flowers, especially roses.

Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII is entombed in St Mary's Church next to the castle.



The tiles were pure inspiration for a new quilt design.


Helen Bertram of Whitecroft Tours has a flare for finding the most amazing items of interest to quilters and embroiderers.  Our tour of the Cotswolds included viewing exquisite textiles: Tudor stump work, gorgeous laces, tapestries and samplers.



In the afternoon we experienced an incredibly detailed private tour of Stoneleigh Abbey including all its associations with dear Jane Austen.  This wonderful estate was inherited by Austen relations and we know from Jane's letters that she visited the estate.

The rooms of this beatiful place are simply breath taking.  The main saloon was huge, decorated with glorious plaster work in the 1760s showing the Greek myth of Hercules.



Our very informative guide, Rachel, was dressed in charming period costume. She made all the connections to Jane Austen and the influence the estate had on her writing come alive.   

The plot and characters in "Mansfield Park" are thought to have been inspired by family circumstances Jane learnt about during her visit to Stoneleigh Abbey in 1806. 

I especially loved all the dark wood panelling on the walls, the amazing tapestry chairs and the gorgeous library of antique books.




I was particularly fascinated by th Queen's Bedroom where the Abbey hosted a visit by the young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  The family arranged the most spectacular bedroom ensemble, complete with a magnificent bed covering made from old ball gowns.

An amazing day, topped off with another superb meal at:



Another great day.  I do not want it all to end.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

More Miss Austen

I am hoping you are all enjoying my photos of the Whitecroft Austen experience.  Despite several camera malfunctions, I can share some more from The Jane Austen Museum at Chawton.  Thanks to my beautiful friend Judy Fulham for allowing me to share her photos.

A small kitchen...

Furniture in the main rooms downstairs:



This is not the original tester bed but a similar one which Jane and Cassandra would have shared together.



And of course, THE QUILT.

Here is Tracey and me in front of this beauty, at last!




Here is Jane's writing desk, very unassuming and small.  Where brilliance was created.

How awe inspiring to visit these wonderful places so closely associated with my favourite author. More to come on this amazing tour...

The Life and Times of Jane Austen by Whitecroft Traditional Tours

We have all had a magical day under the guidance of Helen Bertram and Jane Tapley!

We set off for Hampshire and first visited Chawton House Library, the former home of one of Jane Austen's brothers, Edward.  This quintessential English manor house is now the repository of early women's writing from 1600 to 1830.

We had a wonderful private tour of the house.

I am actually sitting at the original dining room table which Jane Austen would have sat to have dinner with her extended family.  How fabulous!  I could not contain my excitement.

This is the nook where Jane reportedly sat reading, waiting for dinner.

This is me in a replica Georgian era bonnet, having been "volunteered" to try it on.  It actually felt like I had "blinkers" on, I had to turn my head to see to the left or right.

The gardens here were just beautiful and we were blessed again with the weather, a fine sunny day with a light cool breeze.

This is the idyllic scene walking down to the small church where Jane's mother and sister are buried.

We visited the Jane Austen Museum at Chawton, home of the original Jane Austen quilt.

We were given a very detailed talk on the quilt by Sue Dell, who has undertaken a huge amount of research on the methods of construction, fabric choice and conservation of this precious quilt.

Just a bit excited....

This was Jane's writing desk, upon which she revised her first three novels and wrote three more during the eight years she lived at Chawton.

Next we visited Winchester in Hampshire where Jane Austen was buried in 1817 in the north side aisle of the magnificent Cathedral.  This was a sad experience, realising that Jane passed away at the young age of 41 years.  At least she was surrounded by her loving family and is honoured today as one of the greatest British novelists.



We had plenty of time to look around the Cathedral and had a fabulous dinner in The Chapter House of the Cathedral.