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Today, we conclude our visit to the church where Jane Austen worshipped for the first 25 years of her life. Our first two visits are available to view here, and here.

Above is the view of the Nave from the Chancel.

This, below,  is the view of the Nave, looking towards the East window of the Chancel from the western end of the church.

You can see the early Victorian wall painting- in the style of William Morris- inside and above the arches.

To the right hand side of the nave is a small side chapel- opposite the pulpit- and here is a small display of tapestry kneelers

…all decorated with the church’s own design – a silhouette if you like- of Jane Austen, and this is  similar to the figure representing Jane Austen on the church’s notice board in the churchyard.

When Jane Austen worshiped in the church, the windows would have had plain glass, like this one below

But now there are some Victorian stained glass panels

There is a touching memorial to Jane Austen in the nave, which takes the from of an engraved  bronze plaque. This was donated to the church by  Emma Austen-Leigh in 1936. It reads:

JANE AUSTEN

Born December 16th 1775

Died July 18th 1817

WORSHIPPED HERE

This tablet was erected to her memory by her great grand-niece Emma Austen Leigh 1936

Emma Austen-Leigh was the author of Jane Austen and Steventon(1937) and in it she describes the ceremony that took place when the plaque was dedicated:

It was unveiled and dedicated on Sunday July 19th 1936, the day after the anniversary of Jane’s death, in the presence of many who thought of her with gratitude and affection. On this occasion the Lesson was read  by a great-grand nephew from a  Bible which had been in use in George Austen’s time and a short account of her life was given by Sir Frank MacKinnon.

A fireplace was discovered on the North wall of the Nave in 1988: in it are some finds that have been discovered on the site: they include a  medieval tile and a pattern, which would have been attached to shoes to raise the wearer above the mud and dirt. The fire screen attached to the opening was funded by the Ohio North Coast Chapter of JASNA.

The Vestry, now  on the south west corner of the Nave, is in fact the old Squires Pew. It was once in the south east corner of the Nave and was moved to its present position circa 1912. The Digweed family were the old Squires of Steventon,who lived in the Manor House which used to be  opposite the church. In 1932 it was destroyed by fire and only the stable block survived. This has now been converted into a large family home. It was first known as Steventon Manor Stables but is now known as Steventon Manor, though of course it is not the building with which Jane Austen would have been familiar. The pew dates from the 17th century.

The churchyard has some memorials to members of Jane Austen’s family, including the Reverend William Knight and his trio of daughters who so sadly succumbed to scarlet fever in 1845.

The memorials to the family are found in the north eastern part of the churchyard.

And probably the most important for Janeites is that of James Austen, Jane Austen’s eldest brother and his second wife, Mary Austen

Here is a close-up picture of the inscription on the stone, covered in moss

and the modern translation , which is affixed to the grave .

This side view of the church, taken form the south,  shows the steeple, which, of course, was not in situ when Jane Austen lived in the village, as her father George Austen did not replace it when it fell down in a storm in 1764.

However, you should always remember to look up at the steeple, for the weather vane is one last tribute to Jane Austen, for it takes the form of a quill.

Here is a close up of it for you…

This is, in my view, a very elegant and fitting tribute, for the quill was of course the instrument Jane Austen would have used when she was making her first attempts at composition when she lived at the rectory, just down the lane from the church.

The Rectory now longer stands, and only James Austen’s limes tree now marks the space where it stood. But archaeological studies have recently been and win an attempt to discover what teh Rectory like alike and an exhibition will be taking place soon,as I understand it,  in Basingstoke, of the findings of the excavations made. I will, of course, let you know all about this in due course, but I hope, in the meantime, you have enjoyed this short tour of Jane Austen’s church.

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