|Steventon Rectory as portrayed by Anna Lefroy|
She began with rectories, sharing the famous image Anna Lefroy drew of the Austen home at Steventon (pictured above). Speaking of Austen's tomboyish childhood games, which always conjures up images, for me at least, from the beginning of Northanger Abbey and Catherine Morland's similar activities, it was a touching tribute to this lost monument to our favorite authoress. Pictures of the still standing medieval church, where Mr. Austen preached for so may years, were reassuring in this context. I was particularly excited by Ms. Lutz's attention to a nearly thousand year old yew tree that grows in front of the church, in which the rectory key was hidden by the Austens, and where Jane certainly enjoyed the shade. In order to give us a concrete vision of a rectory, Ms. Lutz then turned to the nearby Ashe House, where the Lefroy family lived. Regarding this mid-sized, Georgian home, she cited one scholar's (missed the name!) notion that it could have resembled Austen's vision of Longbourn or Hartfield, a notion I have grave doubts about, particularly regarding the latter, but perhaps the style of home can give us a image upon which to base our ideas of these domains. I like to think it is more along the lines of Henry Tilney's home at Woodston.
"Some people imagine that there can be no accommodations, no space in a cottage; but this is all a mistake. I was last month at my friend Elliott's, near Dartford. Lady Elliott wished to give a dance. 'But how can it be done?' said she; 'my dear Ferrars, do tell me how it is to be managed. There is not a room in this cottage that will hold ten couple, and where can the supper be?' I immediately saw that there could be no difficulty in it, so I said, 'My dear Lady Elliott, do not be uneasy. The dining parlour will admit eighteen couple with ease; card-tables may be placed in the drawing-room; the library may be open for tea and other refreshments; and let the supper be set out in the saloon.' Lady Elliott was delighted with the thought. We measured the dining-room, and found it would hold exactly eighteen couple, and the affair was arranged precisely after my plan. So that, in fact, you see, if people do but know how to set about it, every comfort may be as well enjoyed in a cottage as in the most spacious dwelling."
Barton Cottage in the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility
This even far grander notion of a cottage, which the ever practical Elinor dismisses as not deserving "the compliment of rational opposition", might be ridiculous, but it does emphasis how our modern perceptions of such structures are entirely influenced by the picturesque rather than reality.
Ms. Lutz next turned to small manor homes, particularly Ibthorpe House, where Mary and Martha Lloyd grew up. Though not large, it is a handsome Georgian property. This house was also suggested as a model for either Longbourn and Hartfield, and while I still maintain that Hartfield would be on a grander scale, I can envision it as a Longbourn, or possibly even a Delaford.
Having visited many more rooms than could be supposed to be of any other use than to contribute to the window-tax, and find employment for housemaids, "Now," said Mrs. Rushworth, "we are coming to the chapel, which properly we ought to enter from above, and look down upon; but as we are quite among friends, I will take you in this way, if you will excuse me."
They entered. Fanny's imagination had prepared her for something grander than a mere spacious, oblong room, fitted up for the purpose of devotion: with nothing more striking or more solemn than the profusion of mahogany, and the crimson velvet cushions appearing over the ledge of the family gallery above.
|The Chapel in Stoneleigh Abbey|
Next Ms. Lutz quickly discussed Goodnestone Park, family home of Elizabeth Austen Knight nee Bridges, which far more confirms to my notion of Hartfield, or perhaps even Rosings, as the location in Kent and the presence of a church right beyond the park tempts me to believe (it certainly appeared lavish enough). We then turned to the all important Godmersham Park, Edward Austen Knight's main residence, to which Jane was a frequent visitor. Ms. Lutz proposes this as the model for Pemberley, though I, despite never having been there, always thought of it more like Mansfield Park. It's a Palladian style home built in 1782, and the best argument for it being Pemberley is premised upon the approach, the improvement of which Edward oversaw, which concurs with Austen's depiction:
While I agree that the approach could be a viable argument for this being Pemberley, I cannot help but question the theory. I think I just consider Pemberley a fairytale place and cavil at any attempt to tie it to reality. I certainly agree with Ms. Lutz that it is highly unlikely Austen premised the house on Chatsworth, no matter how tempting the grandiose dimensions of that place. She put forth the often argued point that the Duke of Devonshire had an income of 100,000 pounds a year, placing his home well beyond the range of what Mr. Darcy could reasonably afford.
They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; -- and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted.
Ashe House -http://janeaustentour.com/locations
Barton - http://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.com/2011/02/sense-sensibility-bicentenary.html
Ibthorpe House -http://www.jasna.org/tours/tour2008.html
Chawton House - http://www.jasna.org/news_events/ivp.html
Stoneleigh Abbey -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stoneleigh_abbey_27j08.JPG
Chapel at Stoneleigh - http://www.stoneleighabbey.org/westwingandchapel.html
Goodnestone Park - http://www.jasna.org/tours/tour2009.html
Godmersham Park - http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/edward-austen-knight-a-tightwad-or-a-man-with-heavy-responsibilities/
Winchester Cathedral - http://www.planetware.com/picture/winchester-cathedral-eng-gb075.htm