Saturday, April 14, 2007

Jane Austen’s Church at Steventon

We passed Jane Austen’s home village of Steventon, Hampshire this afternoon and popped into St. Nicholas’ Church. Jane used to attend this church - she was baptised here - and her father, the Rev. George Austen, was the minister.

Here’s a picture of the front of the church (more information here).

St. Nicholas’ Church

We took a walk inside the church, it’s really quite small, and filmed it in a video downloadable as a Windows Media file here - (9.5 MB). Afterwards, we walked around, it was 24 degrees today, almost summer temperatures, and the graveyard was quite beautiful.

St. Nicholas’ Church graveyard

We were the only people around, which shows how much Steventon is off the beaten track for the worldwide Jane Austen community. In fact Steventon has utterly failed to capitalise on its most famous daughter: there is no trace that she ever lived there - no visitor centre or museum - and the Rectory where she lived has been razed to the ground. All that is left is a fenced-off and ruined pump in a field populated by ruminating cows.

I predict that someone, some day, will purchase the old Rectory site, build a restoration based on the most accurate records available, open it as a visitor centre and watch the crowds pour in. Such an investment would surely be repaid many times over one feels, to the undoubted irritation of the locals.

Why were we there at all today? We had driven up to Basingstoke where we were shopping around for a new car. The new Toyota Auris caught our eye.

Toyota Auris

You can tell we live in that dual universe, you know, the one orthogonal to where Jeremy Clarkson lives!