Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Antiques and Austen and Addison's Walk - Post 5 of my trip


After Petworth, I entrained back to London, and my dear familiar old George B&B in Cartwright Gardens. I was joined by good friend Jane Odiwe for dinner (the Indian place again - no hardship there!) and we talked and talked, one of those evenings that you seem to solely and only get in England.

Jane and me

Bright and early next morning, I was on the train to Hungerford, an old Berkshire market town about an hour's ride from London. My friend Roz Cawley (she of the delightful Autumn Cottage Diary blog ( http://rozcawley.typepad.com/ ) took me there several years ago, and I felt I could never be happy until I saw it again. Besides, it lies right in the depths of Jane Austen country, where there is always more to see and to learn...

Here I arrive at the Hungerford Clock Tower...

And this is the Hungerford Arcade - too much to see in a day!

Above, Roz looks on as I discover a Georgian brooch! (Note my unsavory look of Acquisition.) It is from about 1830, and made of cut steel. No stones or gems; but the faceted steel would sparkle and glitter beautifully when ladies wore the jewelry under candlelight.

The Georgian brooch I bought at Hungerford and am holding in my hand in the picture, is the one on the right. I have two, and here they are at home together.

Sadly (or perhaps mercifully) I could not buy all I wanted at Hungerford, for the simple reason that more than five pieces of china would not fit into my small suitcase; but I suppose my enthusiasm shed itself around the shop like Tinker Bell tinsel, for the proprietors had a picture taken with me and wrote up my visit for their newsletter, which was great fun!

Lunch, in a nearby pub, was the freshest and most delicious seafood salad, and wonderful crisp English cider.  Ahhh!

Then Roz and I hopped into her car and it was on to the next stop: Kintbury. We had passed through this beautiful little English village before on my earlier visit, but now I wanted to examine it properly. It is a village filled with Jane Austen connections, for Jane and her sister Cassandra grew up with the Fowle brothers who had been their father George Austen's pupils. His old friend Thomas Fowle was rector of Kintbury, and was succeeded there by his oldest son Fulwar Craven Fowle in 1798.

Above is the notice board at St. Mary's Church, Kintbury. Jane Austen's earliest surviving letter, of 10 January 1796, is addressed to Cassandra, who was then staying with the Fowles. Both sisters visited Kintbury often, and would have known the village, and walked in the paths I now walked, very well. And some of these seem to be little changed...

Approaching the church. 

 I was amused by the sign, and wonder how often birds fly into the church?  But it is the countryside...and the English countryside, at that.

Interior of the church. Many of the memorials on the walls were there and would have been seen by Jane Austen when she was at church with the Fowles.

There are some materials about the Jane Austen/Kintbury connection available at the church, such as the picture of the old vicarage, above.

The "new" Victorian vicarage was built long after Jane Austen's time, but is still handsome. 

It is the walks, such as this one between vicarage and church, that seem most unchanged. This passage would have been used by the vicar's family so they would have privacy on their way to church.

The very old wall of flint, brick and stone, would certainly have been seen by her. I was treading in her footsteps, indeed!

This beautiful and peaceful lime tree walk probably existed in her day, too. It was nice to be in such a quiet place, so well known to Jane Austen, so unfrequented by tourists. I thought about all that Kintbury would have meant to her, its thousands of associations; for her letters are full of references to comings-and-goings between her home and this village. She writes of Charles Fowle failing to "bespeak" a pair of stockings for her, of playing cards with the peppery Fulwar ("we played at Vingt-un, which as Fulwar was unsuccessful, gave him an opportunity of exposing himself as usual"). Of sending fish ("soals") to Kintbury, and receiving apples; and of Elisabeth, Fulwar's wife, purchasing a copy of Sense and Sensibility. All these pleasant domestic incidents of Jane Austen's life, happened here. And then there was the tragedy of Cassandra's engagement to Thomas Fowle...

Thomas Craven Fowle

Thomas and Cassandra were engaged in 1794; he was then twenty-nine, and she was twenty-one. He had been ordained, but could not afford to marry, and when his cousin Lord Craven offered him a living in Shropshire if  he would accompany his regiment as chaplain on a journey to the West Indies, Tom accepted. On 14 January 1796 Jane Austen wrote high-spiritedly to Cassandra:

"How impertinent you are to write to me about Tom, as if I had not opportunities of hearing from him myself. The last letter that I received from him was dated on friday the 8th, and he told me that if the wind should be favourable on Sunday, which it proved to be, they were to sail from Falmouth on that Day. By this time therefore they are at Barbadoes I suppose." (I assume she was joking, for Barbadoes was 4,000 miles from Falmouth, difficult to travel in a week! Unless Falmouth, Jamaica is meant? Hmm...)

Lord Craven 

In any case, Tom Fowle never returned home to marry Cassandra, for he died of yellow fever in 1797. Lord Craven apparently said afterwards, in speaking of his death, that if he had known of the engagement he would not have allowed him to run such a risk. 

Leaving this sad history behind, we continued on our way to Roz's beautiful home, Autumn Cottage...

Roz, the Autumn Cottage Diarist

One passion we share is for blue and white china!

Autumn Cottage is a delightful spot, and Roz a lovely friend and hostess. And she knows perfectly well who is a very central attraction of the cottage, to me...it is my friend the beautiful and cheeky Pippin the Cat.

I have known Pip both virtually and in the cat-flesh, since he was a mere kitten, but he showed little affection for his Aunty Diana on this visitation. In fact, it can only be said that he cast suspicious not to say faintly baleful glances in my direction...

Below (with acknowledgement to Roz) is the picture that made me fall in love with Pippin and his sister Lily, more than I ever have with any other kittens, even my own. Our three were little scruffy nothings when we adopted them from the shelter (though Pindar did have that exquisite face, and lovely Brown Stripes).  But these two kittens...

Pippin and Lily, you see, were identical kittens, except that one was silver, the other gold! The exact same little faces - but oh what colours!  I wanted them to be called Oro and Plata, but Roz wasn't having it.

Sadly Lily is no longer with us (or I should say, with them), but Pippin is still here, just a little older than my eight-year-old litter; and he is as very beautiful and very much himself as ever...

Pheasants strut in the Autumn Cottage garden, but they seem safe enough from Pippin...

Autumn Cottage garden

In the evening I went on my way, and took the train to Oxford, where I stayed with friends for a couple of nights, and had the honour of having a lovely lunch with my friend Simon of the famous Stuck-in-a-Book blog ( http://www.stuckinabook.com/  ) at the Oxford University Press cafeteria, which is always a delightful thrill for me! Some pictures of Oxford...

View from the new Headley Tea Room at the Weston Library.

Then my friend Jean and I enjoyed a beautiful walk at Magdalen College, the long rambling square path with views of the Cherwell called Addison's Walk. Here C.S. Lewis used to walk with his fellow Inklings J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson, and his poem "What the bird said early in the year" is on a plaque...

Magdalen College

Along Addison's Walk

The gates

Magdalen tower

A sweet chestnut candle (thank you, Stephen Games!)

A willow

A Magdalen early rose

Later, I posed at the snake-headed foot scraper in Oxford's High Street, thinking about how Peter did the same on an early trip we took to Oxford together, I think in 1983 or so, when we met Jean Harker and also Jan Todd for the first time, at an early Jane Austen seminar at St. Hilda's College. Other speakers, I remember, were Mavis Batey, Lyndall Gordon, David Gilson, and Lord Leigh...but Jane Austen was so little popular then that even with that stellar line-up of speakers there were only nine conference attendees!

And of course we were young and handsome then...more than thirty years ago...

Later Jean and I went to Evensong at Magdalen, and heard the angel voices...

Bleeding Hearts in Jean's garden...


Jane Odiwe said...

It was wonderful to see you, Diana-come again soon!

Barbara said...

Another simply wonderful day for you, Diana. Lovely places and good friends - the perfect combination.

Kate said...

You & Roz & I share that passion for blue & white china, Diana. In my case, I'm seduced by flow blue but of course so is seemingly everyone else so it's totally out of my price range. Also very much love the Blue Calico chine pattern but it's also very dear. I just should have been born rich!

Glad you had such a lovely trip & a safe journey home.

Barbara said...

Actually, from your pictures, Peter doesn't look to have changed one jot!