|The Assembly Rooms, where |
Jane Austen once danced, now
host the Fashion Museum.
|An anachronistic afternoon tea at the|
Jane Austen Centre, under the
supercilious gaze of Mr. Darcy.
That innocent joy is communicated in her early novel Northanger Abbey (and her later discomfort with Bath can be felt when one reads Persuasion).
|While her father still lived, Jane's family|
enjoyed rooms in one of these
middle-class townhouses on Sydney Place.
|Now a peaceful park, Sydney Gardens |
hosted concerts and fireworks in Jane's
day, much like Vauxhall in London.
After Bath, we visited Winchester, Jane's final resting place. The cathedral is lovely and peaceful. It is not as overwhelmingly grand as those of Canterbury and York. Winchester's declining importance during the High Middle Ages means that it wasn't completely refurbished. Part of the old Norman cathedral (with its Romanesque arches and 12th-century frescoes) is still extant. Its crypt has always been empty of tombs and chapels, since it has always been prone to flooding (the cathedral was deliberately built over a holy well, which sits directly under the altar).
|Jane's austere tomb, in the Cathedral floor.|
The church has a warm, lived-in feel that I cannot quite describe. While other great historic churches fill the pilgrim with a sense of awe, Winchester Cathedral filled me with a sense of welcome. It also has a magnificent library upstairs (where sections of the famous Winchester Bible can be seen). Although Westminster Abbey is a more prestigious place for authors to be interred, I think Winchester Cathedral is a better choice.
|This brass plaque on the wall and a memorial|
stained glass window were added later in the
19th century, after Jane's fame had grown.