Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jane Austen Memorial, Winchester Cathedral

This post originally appeared on my other blog, Travels Old and New:

Jane Austen Memorial, Winchester Cathedral

Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817.  This blog post continues the story of our trip to Chawton and Winchester, in England, to see some of the places associated with her life.  

The first part of the story can be found here:


After our visit to Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton, we took the local bus back to the city of Winchester, where she's buried, so we could continue to find out about the author.  

While waiting for the bus along the quiet local road, we saw a couple walking their small dog.

Out the window of the bus, we spotted a train that we think is operated by the Mid Hants Railway, also known as the Watercress Line.  That alone would be worth another visit to the area.

It was December, and the small towns along the route were decked out for Christmas.  Businesses and homes had small lighted Christmas trees across the fronts of roadside buildings.

When we got back to Winchester, we had time to look around before we caught the train back to London.  

The center of town was also decorated for Christmas. We had a snack of hot tea and tiny mince pies at a local shop, and did a spot of window shopping.

There was a Christmas fair outside the Cathedral.

But inside the Cathedral was our real destination.  Jane Austen is buried there.  She and her sister Cassandra spent the last months of Jane's life in Winchester, to be closer to medical care.

The Cathedral itself is enough to stop you in your tracks.  Founded in the year 1079, it was remodeled extensively over the next five centuries (and you thought your remodeling project took a long time).  It was pretty much complete by the 16th century.

We walked around, marveling at the amount of detail we could still see in the rather dim cathedral light.  (By then, it was pitch dark outside.)

You spend a lot of time in Winchester Cathedral looking up.

And then, suddenly as we walked along the North Aisle, we stopped, looked down, and there was Jane Austen's memorial stone.

The Cathedral's website notes that, when Miss Austen died in 1817, she was not very well-known.  Her original memorial stone makes no mention of her books.

In Memory of
youngest daughter of the late
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County
she departed this Life on the 18th July, 1817,
aged 41, after a long illness supported with
the  patience and hopes of a Christian.

The benevolence of her heart, 
the sweetness of her temperment
the extraordinary endowments of her mind 
obtained the regard of all who knew her and 
the warmest love of her intimate connections.

Their grief is in proportion to their affection 
they know their loss to be irreparable 
but in their deepest affliction they are consoled 
by a firm though humble hope that her charity, 
devotion, faith and purity have rendered 
her soul acceptable in the sight of her 

Eventually, in 1870, a brass memorial plaque was installed near the memorial stone, that commemorates her "writings."

By 1900, Jane Austen was famous enough for there to be a public subscription campaign to raise money for stained glass windows in her honor.

As well, there's a contemporary display that provides more information on Jane Austen and the nearby town of Chawton.

It was time to catch the train back to London. I mentally bade farewell to Chawton, to Winchester, to all the kind people we had met during our journey.  

But not to Jane Austen.  After all, I have all her books in my library at home.  I can visit her (and her characters) any time I like.

Still, I think we'll have to go back and visit the places she lived again someday.

It was too dark for us to really see the stained glass windows that commemorate Jane Austen, but the blog AustenOnly tells about them (and has daylight photographs of the Cathedral):


Here's some information on Winchester Cathedral:

And the Mid Hants Railway:

No comments:

Post a Comment