Today, taking off from where we left, in our last post in this series, we now enter the church, which was very important in Jane Austen’s early life until she left Steventon for Bath in 1801. This simple church was the site of her baptism, where she and her family worshipped,and where for many years, members of her family were rectors.

This is the view from the rear of the Nave toward the Chancel and the East window. We will talk about the Nave and its contents in our next post in this series, and so today we shall concentrate on the Chancel, which you can see, below:

The East Window is decorated with some Victorian Stained glass, which was  designed by Meyer and Co of Munich and was installed in 1883.

Jane Austen would not have known this window. Nor would she have known the altar, below, which again is Victorian.

But in the Chancel are some very important Austen family memorials. The first, next to the organ on the south wall…

is dedicated to James Austen, Jane’s oldest brother . He was the Rector at Steventon from 1805 until his death in 1819, having taken over the family living on the death of his father in 1805. Please do note that you can enlarge all these photographs by clicking on them to see the details.

It is surmounted with the Austen family crest and motto, which you can see in the photograph below:

The inscription reads:

To the Memory of 

The Revd. James Austen,

who succeeded his father, the Revd George Austen

as Rector of this Parish

and died Dec  13th 1819 aged 53 years,

this monument and the Stone which covers his grave in the churchyard

were erected by his widow and children

There midst the flock his fond attention fed

Teh village pastor rests his weary head

Till called to join, from sin and suffering freed

That Heavenly flock which Christ himself shall feed:

For long and well he bore the chastening rod

Long, marked for death the vale of life he trod;

For talents honoured, though to fees displayed,

And virtues brightening through dejections shade

Simple yet wise, most free from guile or pride,

He daily lived to God and daily died.

Best earliest friend for thee whose cares are o’re

Dear as thy presence was, we grieve no more;

Well taught by thee, our heart scan heavenward rise;

We dare not sorrow where a Christian lies

Also in the Chancel is this elegant monument dedicated to James first wife, Anne Mathew, who was the granddaughter of the 2nd  Duke of Ancaster of Grimsthorpe.

The beautiful and elegant  inscription reads:

Sacred to the Memory of

Anne Austen

Wife of the Revd. James Austen Vicar of Sherbourne St John in this County

Daughter to Lt General Mathew Governor of Grenada

who exchanged this life for a far better on the 3rd May 1795

in the 37th year of her Age.

as the Innocency of her Heart,

Simplicity of her Manners

And amiable unspotted Tenour of her Life, in every Relation,

Will render her Memory ever dear to her surviving Friends;

So the humble and pious Resignation

Eminently manifested at that trying Period

When parting with what was most dear on Earth

Will always be considered by them

As an Example

of

Christian Fortitude

which, though they can scarcely hope to Equal

They will yet endeavour 

to imitate

The memorial is decorated with her coat of arms. James’ second wife, Mary, who was the sister to Jane Austen’s great friend, Martha Lloyd, also has her memorial here.

Her inscription reads:

Mary

Wife of the Revd. Jame Austen

Late Rector of this Parish

and Daughter of

The Revd . Noyes Lloyd

formerly

Rector of Enbourne near Newbury 

Died at Speen Berks

3rd August 1843

aged 73

and was buried here in the adjoining churchyard

her son and Daughter with sorrow 

inscribe this stone

To the honoured Memory of

Their Good and affectionate Mother

Whose loss they will Long lament

together with two verse from the Bible.

Also in the Chancel is the memorial to the Reverend William Knight, Edward Knight’s son who was also Rector at Steventon,

but who lived in the new Rectory now known as Steventon House, built for him by his father, and not the in one in which Jane Austen was born, which has now been demolished. There is also a very moving memorial, affixed to the wall underneath it, dedicated to his three daughters who died in June 1848 of scarlet fever, aged 3,  4 and 5 years respectively  :

And on that rather somber note, we shall leave the Chancel to look, next time, at the Nave.