Winchester Cathedral is of course where Jane Austen was buried, after dying near to it in College Street on the 18th July 1817. To begin commemorate the 200 anniversary of her death the Cathedral has decided to open a new permanent exhibition about Jane Austen and her life. They have contacted me with details of the events and I have great pleasure in sharing them to you here:
As the bicentenary decade of Jane Austen’s heyday and early death approaches, a new permanent exhibition at her resting place in Winchester Cathedral opens on 10 April 2010 to unveil the life and times of the renowned author like never before.
The exhibition, which will document Jane’s home and social life, will be supported by a mix of permanent and rolling exhibits borrowed from collections around the world. From 10 April until 20 September items from Winchester Cathedral’s and Winchester College’s archives will be on display. Some of these items have rarely, if ever, been displayed publicly before and include her burial register, first editions and fragments of Jane’s own writing.
In addition to the exhibition, new guided tours, specific special exhibitions and talks will take visitors through her life and works to mark her legacy and set the stage for Jane’s bicentenary. Some of the events planned to take place are as follows
1st May: Special Evensong to mark Jane Austen’s life, and place in the Cathedral’s history
16-18 July: Jane Austen Weekend (including Regency Dinner) which coincides with the Jane Austen Society AGM
5-6 August: Outside theatre production of Pride and Prejudice
Extended tours which take visitors beyond the Cathedral to see Jane’s final home just beyond the Cathedral Inner Close.
Charlotte Barnaville, the Cathedral’s Marketing Officer, and a team of specialist advisors have created the exhibit. Charlotte comments:
“Hampshire offers Jane Austen admirers a wonderful window into her life, at her birthplace of Steventon, where she lived at Chawton and in Winchester, her final resting place. The Cathedral provides the perfect space to bring together each element of Jane’s life through the public exhibition and to give prominence to her ledgerstone, which lies quietly in the north nave aisle and often goes unnoticed.
“Our focus will be on Jane Austen the person, her life, family and friends. So much of daily life during the regency period is so different to today, and we know this will reveal a totally different side to Jane Austen’s fans and followers.”
The exhibition will be open during Cathedral visiting hours, and visitors will be able to enjoy the rest of the Cathedral’s treasures during their visit. There is a small charge to visit the Cathedral, and an annual pass costs just £10. But note if you are making a special visit to Winchester to visit the Cathedral that it is always wise to contact the Cathedral in advance, as occasionally services and events may limit access to the exhibition.
I do hope some form of catalogue will be available for this exhibit- as yet I have no news about one- as it would make a touching souvenir for those Janeites amongst us who may not be able to physically attend any of the commemorations for her death in the city where she died.