Thursday, August 31, 2017

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon!

Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter came true: visiting the village where Jane Austen lived and worked for the last years of her tragically short life, Chawton.


Jane Austen's cottage, Chawton

It turned out to be a wonderful visit. The Jane Austen Society had restrained itself and used taste, and refrained from turning it into a sugarcoated tourist trap.
We took our time wandering around the rooms, and read the plentiful information provided. There were lots of original furnishings to look at, and one of the things we liked the most was the small round table Jane used to write her books on.
The role of her sister Cassandra was documented very well, and we realized for the first time that it was Cassandra who made it possible for Jane to write in peace, by taking it upon herself to run the household.
One of the charming cottages in Chawton village.

It only took us ten minutes or so to walk up to the manor house, and it was
fun to walk in Jane's footsteps, so to speak, as we knew she used to
visit her brother's house very frequently.



In her cottage we learned that although Jane herself is buried in Winchester 
Cathedral, her mother and Cassandra are buried in the village church, near 
the manor house that used to belong to Jane's brother Henry.
So we decided to visit their graves, and leave a tiny floral tribute for Cassandra.


The manor house
This house now belongs to an American literature enthusiast, who has turned it 
into a library
and study centre for Women's Literature.
The atmosphere in the house was wonderful, and the garden charming.

After an extremely pleasant day, it didn't take us long at all to drive to Salisbury, 
the capital city of the county of Wiltshire.
I had visited this city before in the Eighties, and found to my pleasure that the old 
centre had not changed hardly at all. We found a lovely B&B along the  bank of the 
River Avon, The Rose and Crown, overlooking the water meadows.




Just as we walked up to Salisbury Cathedral, the setting sun lit up the spire, and we 
vowed to visit it properly first thing the next morning.


I have visited plenty of cathedrals, but for my daughter this was only the second, 
and (after the Sacré Coeur in Paris) the first one in England. She was charmed. 
We liked the cloisters especially.

Only three days into our trip, and we were having a wonderful time, despite the 
unstable weather. This being the same old - same old weather we have in The 
Netherlands...so we took no notice of the sudden downpours.


I would like to leave you with a page out of the visitor's book in Salisbury cathedral. 
Amongst the prayers and thoughts about sick spouses, a child's dreams for his future
 and giving thanks, there was a  prayer that spoke to me.

Next time, I'll tell you about our visit to Stonehenge and Lacock.