featured last night on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow programme.
This was the second programme filmed in Winchester Cathedral, and of course, it is in Winchester Cathedral that Jane Austen is buried.
Last night the programme’s presenter, Fiona Bruce, made mention of the pilgrimages that centre on Winchester. People still flock to the cathedral to see the shrines of ancient kings and saints,
but also to pay special literary pilgrimages to Jane Austen’s memorial plaque and window, above, and her tomb, below.
She gave a brief overview of Jane Austen’s life and works and then led us to the house in College Street, just outside the cathedral close…
where Jane Austen died in 1817.
Unexpectedly, we were then taken inside the house, to the room on the first floor where Jane Austen died.
This is the first time I have seen inside this house and it quite took me aback, I freely confess.
It is of course a private house at the moment and is not open to the public, so this was an extraordinary thing to have seen.
During the programme, Louise West, Curator of the Jane Austen’s House Museum bought Martha Lloyd’s cookery book to the Roadshow for an expert, in this case, Justin Croft, to appreciate and to value. Martha Lloyd was, of course, a lifelong friend of the Austen ladies and was sister to James Austen’s second wife, Mary. She eventually married Jane Austen’s brother, Frank Austen, in 1828.
We were shown some glimpses of some of the pages in the book..The Table of Contents with recipes for Pound Cake and White Custard,
and A Good Salve for Sore Lips
Louise pointed out that while it was not written by Jane Austen, its association could not have been closer , for these were the recipes she ate nearly every day at Chawton Cottage, during the last eight years of he life, and while Martha was in the kitchen making ink from this recipe in her book, below,
Jane was using it, writing and revising her books in the dining room of the same house, on the writing table we can still see there today.
The book was eventually valued at between £15-20,000 but as Louise rightly pointed out, it was priceless to the Museum and would never be sold. Oh, for a facsimile edition!
The programme is available to view for the next six days on the BBC I Player, or if you go here. I do hope you enjoy this fascinating part of the programme.