Posted by: rearadmiral | July 16, 2017

7/15 St Swithin’s Day

From Sarah Emsley:
When Winchester races first took their beginning
It is said the good people forgot their old Saint
Not applying at all for the leave of St Swithin
And that William of Wykham’s approval was faint.
– Jane Austen, 15 July 1817
Text by:
Maura Dooley
Poet-in-Residence, 2014-15, Jane Austen’s House Museum. Her poems from the residency are published as A Quire of Paper
In May 1817, exhausted from long months of illness, a wan Jane Austen arrived in Winchester, to be closer to her physician hoping for an improvement in her health. She did not recover and on 18 July 1817 died in her sister’s arms, as Cassandra describes movingly in a letter to their niece Fanny Knight, just a few days later.
“She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow; I had not a thought concealed from her, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself.”
As far as we know it was months since Jane Austen had been well enough to work on her new novel, Sanditon, yet, unable to resist a subject that made her smile, we have a poem written just days before she died.
15 July 1817 was the day of the Winchester Races, a noisy, tumbling, raucous occasion of fashionable gambling and revelry – a grand day out, as Austen writes: “The Lords and the Ladies were satine’d and
15 July is also St Swithin’s Day. St Swithin, a 9th century bishop, patron saint of Winchester, is linked through long tradition to the idea that if it rains on his feast day, it will continue to rain for 40 days and nights. Jane Austen gives voice to a furious St Swithin: “These races and revels and dissolute measures/With which you’re debasing a neighbouring Plain/Let them stand – You shall meet with your curse in your pleasures/Set off for your course, I’ll pursue with my rain.”
I looked up the weather for the summer of 1817; it was notably wet. The Austen family all wrote light verse, often as a parlour game. I imagine the sisters cooped up, above the wet, noisy street, losing themselves in the fun of creating this sweet and funny verse in those dark last days and it is some small consolation for the loss of such a fine writer, mischievous to the last.

Austen Heritage
14 hrs ·
I am so excited to see the next chapter in the history of my family’s home.

Chawton House Library have today launched a campaign to ‘reimagine and enhance the manor house in Chawton as it was familiar to Jane Austen in her own village’.

Congratulations to Gillian Dow and the team at Chawton House Library for a fantastic vision and campaign.

Jane Austen’s ‘Great House’
Reimagining Jane’s ‘Great House’ starts today at Chawton House

Pictures of perfection make me wicked happy!!!!!- Me(Kirk!) via Jane Austen Centre-Bath
Deborah Barnum
July 10 at 10:31am ·
Austen on the Block! ~ July 10 at Forum Auctions, and July 11 at Sotheby’s

Deb Barnum (@austeninvermont) posted a photo on Twitter
Get the whole picture – and other photos from Deb Barnum


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