Saturday, 19 September 2009

All things Jane Austen - A Regency day out at Chawton

On a bright and beautiful September morning I took my French friend down to Chawton. Jane Austen's cottage and garden looked their best in the sunshine. The garden was full of colourful flowers and the peaceful atmosphere helped to capture a sense of what it must have been like to live there two hundred years ago.

You enter through a door surrounded by late-flowering roses, to find the interior full of items that bring Jane vividly before you. Her topaz cross and a delightful blue bead bracelet, her small writing table, the letters and papers concerning her books, the fine needlework she produced, all create a sense of her daily life in this home.

On that day, Chawton House, "the Great House" as the Austen ladies called it, was open to the public. This complemented the impressions gained at the cottage, of life as lived by the gentry in a less hurried era.

                                                 Chawton House - 'The Great House'

Diana demonstrates the language of the fan to her beau

A display of Regency era dancing by the Winchester Dance Group

We were fortunate to see a display of Regency dancing - a waltz and several quadrilles, performed in costume. Even more fortunate, we were able to join in the dancing at the end of the display, but I fear we did not perform with as much skill as our teachers.

Diana, the lady in the white dress in the photo, is using her fan to communicate with Regency gentleman David Caldo. Diana gave us a lesson in 'The language of the Fan'.

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