You are currently browsing the daily archive for December 18, 2012.

This will be my last post this year, and I thought it rather appropriate to pay a quick  visit St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Chawton.

The Finger Post in the Village ©Austenonly

The Finger Post in Chawton village ©Austenonly

Chawton village has many treasures…The Jane Austen House Museum, the Chawton House Library, once the home of her lucky brother, Edward Knight and to various other members of her family, and the parish church, which though terribly altered since Jane worshipped there, does retain the memorials to her mother and her sister who are buried in its graveyard.

This post is not meant to be an exhaustive history of the church and its memorials( l hope to come back to it next year, perhaps) but I thought you might like to see the final resting place of Mrs. Austen and Cassandra, Jane Austen’s most beloved elder sister.

Chawton House ©Austenonly

Chawton House ©Austenonly

The church is about half a mile from Jane Austen’s House, set along the drive to Chawton House itself,  just off what once was the Gosport Road. Jane Austen would have passed it every time she went to visit her relatives there, and of course it was in this church that she  worshipped while she was resident in Chawton.

St Nicholas' Parish Church, Chawton.©Austenonly

St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Chawton.©Austenonly

it is believed that a church has stood on the site of the present parish church since at least 1270.  However a disastrous fire in 1871 effectively destroyed the whole building except for the chancel so that the present nave, north aisle, vestry and tower date only from around the rebuilding that took place  between 1872 to 1873.

The Interior of St Nicholas' Parish Church, Chawton ©Austenonly

The Interior of St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Chawton ©Austenonly

Luckily, many of the early memorials were saved and are still displayed on the walls. The ones that concern us today are set on the west wall of the entrance to the Chancel, one to the right and one to the left.

Mrs Austen's Memorial in St Nicholas parish Church, Chawton ©Austenonly

Mrs Austen’s Memorial in St Nicholas parish Church, Chawton ©Austenonly

Mrs Austen’s memorial is very factual, and there are some notable omissions. Here is the wording:

In Memory of

Cassandra Austen

daughter of the late

Reverend Thomas Leigh

Rector of Harpsden Oxfordshire

and relict of the Late

Reverend George Austen

Rector of Steventon Hants

She died this 18th day of January 1827

aged 87 years

Leaving four sons

and one daughter surviving namely

Edward Knight 

of Chawton House in this Parish

Henry Thomas Austen

Francis William Austen

Charles John Austen and

Cassandra Elizabeth Austen

who have inscribed this tablet

to the Memory of

an Affectionate and Beloved Parent.

Jane Austen predeceased her mother by nearly 10 years, and this may explain why she was not included, but George Austen, who lived apart from his family due to his various disabilities, was still alive. He did not die until 1838, but was also omitted from this memorial.

The other memorial is to Cassandra Austen:

Cassandra Austen's Memorial  in St Nicolas' Church, Chawton.©Austenonly

Cassandra Austen’s Memorial in St Nicolas’ Church, Chawton.©Austenonly

They are buried in the churchyard, near to the south wall of the nave,where it meets the chancel:

The Austen Graves in St Nicholas' Churchyard, Chawton ©Austenonly

The Austen Graves in St Nicholas’ Churchyard, Chawton ©Austenonly

Here is Mrs. Austen’s grave:

Cassandra Austen's Grave ©Austenonly

Mrs Austen’s Grave ©Austenonly

And next to it is the same sort of simple gravestone to Cassandra Austen:

Cassandra Austen's Grave ©Austenonly

Cassandra Austen’s Grave ©Austenonly

And so, they rest together in the village that bought them both security and peace.

That ends my postings for this year.Its been a busy one, and next year –the Year of Pride and Prejudice- promises to be very busy and , hopefully, interesting. I do hope you will join me on our journey around all the places mentioned in the novel and down along the by-ways of interesting social history points raised by the novel.

All it remains me to say,  is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year, and that hope you will allow me to

Sincerely hope your Christmas may abound in the gaieties which that

season generally brings

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