Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen

I wrote about my recent visit to Winchester Cathedral here, the final resting place of Jane Austen and King Canute as well as other notables. I spent a couple of days in this enchanting part of the UK with friends who took me on drives full of pleasant surprises.
Winchester itself is an interesting city full of history and stories. It was made the capital of England during Saxon times by King Alfred The Great. Whether he let the cakes burn or not is debatable but when I read that story as a child, I was always intrigued by this man. In the center of town is a statue of one of my childhood heroes and the only monarch in England to be called Great.

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Winchester is a perfect place to wander around, with many historic buildings and interesting shops, including many bookstores.

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I love the boot above the Clark’s Shoe Shop

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At the university sits a bench dedicated to Jane Austen and Phillis Wheatly displaying the importance of literature to this city. It was at the University of Winchester that I attended a writer’s festival that weekend.

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Driving through the New Forest made me think of days of yore and those who would have traveled by horse and buggy down these same paths.

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And then we came upon a thatched-roofed village – right out of a book!

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The village of Wherwell

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Can you imagine living in a house like this?

Later, on the way to a pub for dinner, we came upon a wonderful old church with an awesome graveyard. Since I have this fascination with cemeteries, I had to take a few pictures.

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And to my delight, we passed through yet another thatched-roofed village. My friends were kind enough to stop so I could take pictures.

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The charming village of Monxton

 

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The following day we went to the seaside city of Bournemouth, a place I had not been to before. I loved the casual elegance of the place and the lovely gardens in the center of town.

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Bournemouth seafront

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A fabulous building housing a LUSH store

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Lovely gardens in the middle of the city

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A huge lilac bush with the cathedral in the background

I discovered that Mary Shelly, although she never lived there, is buried in Bournemouth.

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St. Peter’s in Bournemouth where Mary Shelly is buried, along with her parents.

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Yes, that Mary Shelly, the author of the novel, Frankenstein, and wife of Percy Shelly. Did she ever imagine there would be a pub named after her?

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We stopped for an ice cream and had a stroll along the seafront before I was dropped off at the airport. A perfect couple of days with good friends.

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Making memories with friends.

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During a recent visit to the historic city of Winchester in Hampshire, I stopped in at the cathedral. My main goal was to visit the grave of Jane Austen, one of my favourite authors. I had been to Winchester a few years ago, but the cathedral was closed for filming the day I was there. This time it was open and I was finally able to pay my respects to Britain’s favourite female novelist.

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Nothing is mentioned of her writing on her gravestone. However, her family later had a brass plaque installed with these words.

Jane Austen

known to many by her writings

endeared to her family by

the varied charms of her character

and enobled by Christian faith and piety

was born at Steventon in the

county of Hampshire on 6 December 1775

and buried in this Cathedral

on 24 July 1817

She opened her mouth

with wisdom and in her tongue

is the law of kindness.

Prov 31.26

I was moved to see her final resting place as were others. A woman from Australia face-timed with her daughter back home and showed her Jane’s grave. Her daughter, another huge fan, was excited to be able to see it from afar. The wonders of modern technology.

I decided to join a guided tour of the rest of the cathedral while I was there and I’m so glad I did. The tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and interesting. The building has over 1400 years of history. There has been a church on the site since 648. The building of the Norman cathedral took place from 1079  to 1093 with the nave being remodeled between 1350 to 1410.

Here are a few pictures from this amazing place of worship that holds many stories and has been through so much including a reformation, civil war, crumbling foundations – and yet still stands.

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The 12th-century Tournal marble baptismal font depicts scenes from the life of Saint Nicholas (yes, that St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus)

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The west window is particularly interesting. It had at one time been an amazing work of stained glass. During the civil war of 1642 – 1648, Oliver Cromwell’s army stormed the Royalist supporting cathedral, ripped open the graves of the ancient kings, queens and bishops and threw their bones and skulls through the window destroying most if it. Once the Roundheads left, the local citizens picked up the shards of glass and hid them. In 1660, the window was restored using the rescued shards, creating a modern mosaic look.

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This is one of six mortuary chests containing the mortal remains of early bishops and kings including the famous Canute (Cnut) and his wife Queen Emma. Of course, the bones are all mixed up after the Roundheads threw them through the window. Forensic archeologists are only just now being able to sort out whose remains belong to who.

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These twentieth-century paintings of icons by Sergi Fyodorov include one of Saint Swithun, patron saint of the cathedral. His remains at one time lay behind this wall and pilgrims would crawl through the Holy Hole, at the bottom of the picture, to be close to his bones.

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Saint Swithun was the Saxon bishop of Winchester between 852 and 862. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches and it is said he tutored the young Alfred the Great. Only one miracle is attributed to him. According to legend, a poor woman’s eggs had been smashed by workmen building a church. Swithun picked up the broken eggs and they miraculously became whole again. After his death, his bones became famous for their healing powers and pilgrims from all over visited his shrine.

He asked to be buried humbly and his grave was initially just outside the west door of the Old Minster so that people could walk across it and rain could fall on it as he wished. On 15 July 971 though, his remains were dug up and moved to a shrine in the cathedral. The removal was accompanied by terrible rainstorms that lasted 40 days and 40 nights and was thought to indicate the saint’s displeasure at being moved. This is possibly the origin of the legend that if it rains on Saint Swithun’s feast day, July 15, the rain will continue for 40 more days. His shrine and bones were destroyed during Henry VIII’s Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. A modern memorial now marks the spot.

A Traditional Rhyme for St. Swithun’s Day 

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain na mair

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Cardinal Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester 1404 to 1447

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The original Norman Cathedral from 1079, the oldest part of the current church.

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The impressive High Altar

The Cathedral has over a thousand roof bosses. These are carvings in wood or stone that cover the joints between the stone ribs of its vaulted ceilings. They range from simple 13th-century leaf designs, to elaborate Renaissance images of angels, animals and beasts, heraldic badges and emblems of Christ’s Passion. When visiting these places one must always remember to look up.

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The oldest of the great medieval quires in England to survive unaltered with gorgeous carvings of human figures, animals and even the green man.

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The amazing details in the ceilings

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A copy of the Winchester Bible hangs on the wall.

Winchester Cathedral holds many treasures but probably the most precious is its 12th century Bible. It is said to be “largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles.” Henry of Blois, then Bishop of Winchester, came up with the idea in 1160. It is on display but under protection, carefully guarded and no pictures are allowed. It is truly beautiful to see. The Bible is made from the skins of 250 calves, that were soaked, scraped, shaved and stretched before they became suitable for use. Apparently, a single scribe wrote it out in Latin, a labour of love that took many years and was never completed.

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I didn’t get a picture of the monument to William Walker but bought a card with his story.

Winchester Cathedral was built on unstable ground and after many centuries, the heavy stone structure started to lean dangerously. The cathedral was found to be sinking in water. An experienced ex-Royal Navy diver, William Walker was hired to excavate the peat under it and place bags of concrete on the gravel to seal off the water. It took him five years, from 1906 to 1911, in the dark and in a heavy diving suit, to shore up the cathedral. An incredible feat for which the cathedral today owes its existence. He is considered a hero.

If the walls of this cathedral could talk, my they would have a lot to say. Queen Mary was married to Philip of Spain in Winchester Cathedral on 25th July 1554. And much later, Queen Victoria refused to visit the cathedral as the Bishop of Winchester at the time did not approve of her marriage to her beloved Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. So many stories contained in these walls.

I couldn’t end this post without mentioning the New Vaudeville Band and their novelty song, Winchester Cathedral from 1966. Now the song will be in your head all day. Sorry.

 

jane-again

Me being Jane Austen.

Sally has asked me to dig out an article from my archives about visiting Jane Austen’s cottage. Many of you are aware I am a Jane Austen fan, so this was an exciting occasion for me. If you would like to participate on Sally’s blog by sharing some of your travel themed posts, written before October 2017.. contact sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Time for a new series of Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about travel.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog since you began blogging up to October 2017 and you simply send the link to those blogs to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been…

View original post 1,662 more words

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” -Marcel Proust

I was fortunate to see many of my awesome friends when I was in Canada. Some gave me a place to stay, some drove me around and everyone fed me so well. They have all been such huge supporters in whatever I do. Here are a few of them.

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It was great that these good friends from Trinidad were in Canada at the same time.

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A picnic with friends at English Bay before a Bard on the Beach performance

 

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A special Bard Buddy who organized the day.

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Always fun to be part of the cast with another special Bard Buddy

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A longtime Calgary friend and travel buddy who drove me around, gave me a place to stay and fed me well.

 

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A wonderful supportive Vancouver friend who gave me rides and attended events.

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A special relative/friend!

 

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A dear friend who provides me with a great place to stay and feeds me well.

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A lovely mother and daughter team who gave me a comfy room to stay during my first week in Vancouver, fed me well and gave me tons of support.

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Travel writer/photographer friend who took my profile picture and designed my bookmarks. Treated me to a lovely lunch overlooking a golf course.

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A supportive writer friend who treated me to a lovely picnic and a Monet exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

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A former coworker and her daughter who came to a book signing

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My longtime friend who provides me with a comfy place to stay in Medicine Hat, a garden to relax in and delicious meals

As you can see I was well looked after. It was so wonderful to be able to spend time with these friends and many others. I am truly blessed.

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

 

“I want to tell you that I have got my own darling child from London.” Jane Austen, in a letter to her sister, Cassandra, January 29, 1813 upon receiving her first published copy of Pride and Prejudice.

January 28th was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and we are still reading it and watching various film adaptations of the book. Like many of us, Jane had trouble getting her book published, but she persevered. Just think what we would have missed had she given up!

Over at Jane Austen’s Museum Blog the anniversary party at Chawton Cottage is described in detail with many photographs. I especially love the cake provided by Squires of Farnham It is recreation of the frontispiece of the Museum’s copy of the first edition of Pride and Prejudice.

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Picture from Jane Austen’s Museum Blog

I am sure Jane would be pleased as she always loved a good party!

I recently had tea with a good friend who surprised me with a lovely edition of Emma, my favourite Jane Austen novel.

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I  have spent many hours pouring over this special edition which includes lovely drawings and pages on Regency life, geographical settings, Regency fashions, and a Jane Austen timeline.

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What a wonderful friend to think of me when she saw this book.

There will be many celebrations this year commemorating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.  If you haven’t read it or haven’t read it in a while, this may be a good year to read /reread it.

If you read Jane Austen, which is your favourite novel and why?

A cool blogger friend of mine, Jennifer at The Secret Keeper offered the LOOK challenge to me and I have accepted it as I thought it was a lot of fun. Check out The Secret Keeper for amazing poetry and video clips as well as a variety of well written topics and discussions. She will make you think.

Here are the rules for the LOOK Challenge:

Search your manuscript for the word “look,” and then copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post.

Give a little background on the scene if you’d like.

Here is mine from my latest book Amanda in England-The Missing Novel

Amanda and Leah have just arrived on the Isle of Wight:

              When they arrived on the island later that afternoon, Leah’s dad treated them to a delicious fish and chip dinner. Amanda laughed as she read out the menu, “Mushy peas- yuk. Toad in the hole? Spotted dick? That can’t be real! I think I will stick with fish and chips, thank you.”

            After dinner they walked down the cobblestone streets of Cowes, passing a shop with interesting used books in the window.

            “Can we please stop and have a look in here?” asked Amanda.

            “It’s only books.” Leah kept walking.

             “But I love books and these look way cool.”

             “Why don’t you girls stop in here, while I visit the shop next door to purchase some fittings for the boat.”

              Amanda was in her element.  The dusty old store had books piled up right to the ceiling.  The shelves looked like they would topple over from the weight of the volumes. The many stacks on the floor leaned to the left and to the right.  The place smelled like old, well-worn novels. 

             Amanda loved books so much and had a nice collection.  If there was ever a fire in her house, she would throw her books out first before she jumped out of the window.  Fortunately her bedroom was on the ground floor.

              Leah browsed in the romance section. Amanda drifted to a vintage section where her eyes lighted upon a copy of Vicky and Alice.  Her great-aunt Amelia had a series of these delightful books about two Victorian sisters.  She would let Amanda read them when she visited.  But, she hadn’t seen this one before, Vicky and Alice at the Seashore. Amanda laughed at the picture of the girls in bathing suits that covered most of their bodies.

                The price, written in pencil, was three pounds. 

                “I found a book I want to buy. It’s a real gem!”

                  Leah wasn’t as excited about it, but smiled politely.  She had a fashion magazine in her hand. “I think I’ll get this.”

                 They gave their money to a man reading at a desk in the middle of the room.  He was as dishevelled as the rest of the store, with unkempt grey hair and round glasses that sat at the end of his nose.  A large, snoring tabby cat took over the only part of the desk that was not piled high with books and papers.

                “Don’t mind Rupert,” said the gentleman.  “He just likes to be around books. He’ll do you no harm.”

                “A good purchase,” he said as he rang in the Vicky and Alice book. “These are hard to come by these days.” He almost smiled at Amanda.

 Tag 5 other writers who are working on, or who have completed a manuscript.

The authors I have tagged are:

Laura Best

Clarika Bowman

Beth Stillborn

Sandra MacLeod Humphrey

Pat Wood

Hope you have fun with this!

Here is what I did on Halloween

Jane Austen having the Doctor fix her foot

 

Maybe not the one you are thinking of but a delightful award nonetheless! The Booker Award  was recently given to me by  Lada Ray  author of a number of well written, exciting books. Because this was awarded to me by another author, I feel extremely honoured. Lada’s books include the accidental spy stories, Gold Train and  Green Dessert and soon to be released  YA fantasy/thriller The Earth Shifter . Check out her books and blog at http://ladaray.wordpress.com/lada-ray-books/ Not only is she an amazing writer, she is a wonderful person.

To accept it, I am asked to list 5 of my favorite books and pass it on to 5 other authors, which I’ll gladly do.

To pick only 5 favourite books is very difficult for me as I have been reading for a long time and the list grows every year. But I will try.

 

The first favourite book has to be Jane Austen’s Emma. I love all of her books but if I have to pick, Emma has to be the one I enjoy the most.  Emma is a flawed character who realizes her shortcomings after a series of total mess ups. It is also very funny and timeless with great characters.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery.  Anne Shirley has to be the most memorable young girl who makes the best of her situation as she strives to belong. She is a very real and strong young woman. I read this book over and over and use it in my English as a Second Language classes.

Little Women By Louisa May Alcott is another long time favourite. I love the bond between  the March sisters in spite of their differences.

The No. One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Precious Ramotswe strives to earn a living as a detective in Botswana, upholding the traditional values of her dear departed father. When I read these books, and I have read all of them, I feel like I am in Botswana. I feel the dust, the heat, the struggles and the joys. These books are written with a wonderful sense of humour while respecting the people of this nation.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. This familiar story from the old testament is told from the point of view of  Dinah, the only sister of the twelve sons of Jacob. This richly told story of the ancient Jews, from a woman’s voice, brings a new perspective and appreciation of the role of women in early history.  This is a book that sticks with you for a long time.

I realize now that I have compiled the list that there is a theme here. All of my favourite books have strong female main characters. I also realize I have missed so many others but 5 is all I could share this time. Thank you so much Lada for this award.

The authors I would like to nominate for the Booker Award are:

Laura Best http://lauraabest.wordpress.com/

Linda Cassidy Lewis http://lindacassidylewis.com/

Diane Tibert http://dianetibert.com/home/

Michelle Isenhoff  http://michelleisenhoff.wordpress.com

Ellen Ekstrom http://www.amazon.com/Ellen-L.-Ekstrom/e/B004NQOG8Y/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Please check out their blogs and books. You may discover a new favourite author.

Would you have difficulty narrowing the list down to 5 favourite books?

 

 


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