Remembering Jane Austen

On Sunday, I went on a pilgrimage to Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

(Description: large stone building in the distance, surrounded by low green hills)

We walked from a small village through English lanes and across fields to Winchester, where we passed by this house, where Jane Austen died, in 1817.

House where Jane Austen died

(Description: buttery-yellow house, small plaque on the front wall)

We didn’t go into the house, because it is a private residence. Mr Bee adjourned to the pub, and I went to the cathedral, to bow my head beside Jane Austen’s grave.

(Description: black gravestone set into the floor.)

Her grave is quite plain, and doesn’t mention her writing at all. It reads:

In Memory of
youngest daughter of the late
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County
she departed this Life on the 18th July, 1817
aged 41, after a long illness supported with
the patience and the hopes of a Christian.

The benevolence of her heart,
the sweetness of her temperment
the extraordinary endowments of her mind
obtained the regard of all who knew her and
the warmest love of her intimate connections

Their grief is in proportion to their affection
they know their loss to be irreparable
but in their deepest affliction they are consoled
by a firm though humble hope that her charity,
devotion, faith and purity have rendered
her soul acceptable in the sight of her

In the years after her death, she was memorialised, first with a brass plaque on the wall, and then in 1900, with a great stained glass window.

The window has six images: St Augustine, King David, St John, and the sons of Korah (2 Chronicles 20.19), traditionally regarded as Psalmists.

That’s right. This wonderful woman, who is one of the greatest writers in English, who helped to define and refine the structure of novels, who put questions of love and honour and women’s lives at the centre of her writing, is remembered entirely by images of men.

I sat alongside the gravestone, and thought of this wonderful writer, whose books I love so much. After a while I wandered around the rest of the magnificent cathedral, listening to the organ being played, and the choir practising before Evensong. I returned to the gravestone, and sat again, and then left before the service.

I am so glad to have been able to pay my respects to this great writer.


3 comments on “Remembering Jane Austen

  1. M-H says:

    And I’m so glad you shared it. Thanks. I’ve added the Cathedral to The List for our next trip to Blighty.

  2. Marie R says:

    I think TWO of our book group members have been looking at JA’s grave at Winchester in the past weeks. Huzzah!

  3. penash says:

    I am sorry to leave this here but can’t seem to see an email BUT here’s is some info about a new NZ Austen show, massive apologies for seeming wall spamming!

    Penny Ashton presents…
    Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen
    Written by Penny Ashton and Jane Austen
    Starring Penny Ashton
    Workshops directed by Ben Crowder, Original Music Written and Arranged by Robbie Ellis
    Featuring Beethoven, Strauss, Delibes and Greensleeves


    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a theatre script…must be in want of an audience. Charmingly accomplished Penny Ashton (Austen Found, Hot Pink Bits, Good Morning, Poetry Idol) mashes up the Regency, bonnets and big balls…with alacrity! 

Fresh from the sell-out success of Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen, Ashton has decided to do what no Regency woman should… go out alone AND completely unchaperoned, quite frankly it’s scandalous.

    Follow the fortunes of Miss Elspeth Slowtree as she battles literary snobbery, her mother’s nerves and Cousin Horatio, all armed with a superior wit, blushing countenance and generally being quite bright… you know… for a girl. Balls will be attended, crosses will be stitched and manners will be minded, all with not one ankle in sight. 

As Elizabeth Bennett herself says “Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.” 

And so should you.

    Jane Austen would turn in her grave… with delight.” Rip it Up Adelaide, Austen Found

“…an engaging entertainment full of fun and frivolity.” NZ Herald, Austen Found 

“…a rollercoaster barrage of thrilling words which ooze brilliant talent and creativity.” Taranaki Daily News, Hot Pink with Penny Ashton

“…vivacious…highly entertaining…sheer charm and energy…” The Scotsman, Hot Pink

    Penny Ashton is New Zealand’s own global comedienne who has been making a splash on the world stage since 2002 and she has sold out shows from Edinburgh to Adelaide to Tokoroa. She has four Best NZ Female Comedienne nominations, three Adelaide Fringe People’s Choice nominations and won best performance by an International Poet at the London Farrago Awards. Penny has represented New Zealand in The World Cup of Theatresports in Germany and Australasia in a Performance Poetry Slam Tournament Tour of the UK. In 2010 she performed by invitation at The Glastonbury Festival and reported from the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas.

    Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to
    Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen
    TAPAC, Motions Rd, Western Springs,
    Feb 27th – March 3rd, 7pm and 6pm on Sunday 3rd.
    Bookings: 09 845 0295, Prices: $25/$20,
    For more information contact:
    Penny Ashton

    Penny Ashton is especially excited to be presenting the show one month after the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Pride and Prejudice on January 28th, 1813.

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