Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jane Austen Land!!! But first Salisbury...

I forgot to mention Salisbury as part of my Stonehenge/Wilton House day! So, real quick:

This is Salisbury Cathedral. It used to be the tallest point in England- which is not so any longer. :)

It was really pretty! And... that's about it... I don't remember anything particularly special about it. But none the less, it was cool.
 Anyway, the next day we got to go to two of the places that were a big contributing factor in my decision to go on Brit Lit: Winchester Cathedral and Chawton. Why was I so excited to visit these places, you ask? What could possibly make them so special? Well, here's one reason:

Behold, the final resting place of Jane Austen: my dear friend and hero. I truly wonder sometimes if she and I were dear friends in the heavens. :) The point is, I love her! She really was one of the things that ultimately helped me decide that I was supposed to go on this trip. I don't know if you can read the eulogy on her grave, but I think that it is quite beautiful! If you can't read it, you should look it up. :)

Besides the Austen factor of Winchester, the building itself has some pretty cool history. It was built on a really poor spot for a cathedral. Half of the ground it was built on was built on normal ground, but the other half was built on really soft, marshy ground. So half of it was slowly sinking lower and lower until the crypts of the cathedral were completely underwater. So this guy:

got to go in underwater and  build the foundation  under the catherdral,
from the ground up...
brick by brick.

Fun job, huh? Well, it worked, and now he's the hero who saved Winchester Cathedral, which is really good news, because it a really beautiful place: 

This picture was taken in the crypts of the cathedral. It still floods for about half the year down there. You can see all the moisture on the floor. The statue always has water in his cupped hands, symbolizing the beauty and blessing of water.

This was in the crypt too. I just thought it was cool. There weren't any bodies down there, though there used to be supposedly. I can't remember where the curator said they went.
 After Winchester it was time for Chawton, the location of Jane Austen's home for the last eight years of her life! We were slightly delayed when one of our girls on the trip got lost and couldn't find the coach. I was so worried that we would have to skip Chawton... in fact, I may or may not have become a little infamous with some of my fellow pilgrims for saying that if Sara made me miss Jane Austen's house, I would turn her into a leprechaun... Not one of my finer moments... but it lightened the mood a little. She was lost wandering around Winchester for the better part of an hour- I felt pretty guilty after that. But all was well, because I did not have to miss out on seeing this much anticipated, yet understated, building of such importance!

I thought this was funny. That's all. :)

Behold, the simple, tiny table that served as Jane's home as she finished Pride and Prejudice, and wrote such wonders as Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. Such a small little home for such marvelous works!

The collection in the rest of the house was small, but impressive- first edition copies of Sense and Sensibility, locks of Jane's hair, and couple of manuscripts in her hand, etc. It was amazing! I came out of my adventures at Jane's house with two bookmarks that contained pressed flowers from her garden. I am pleased. :)

Thus concludes my adventures in the English countryside. I must say, I thought it an extremely unfortunate thing to have to depart from all the splendors and gaieties of such sensational lands. But, despite my great hesitancy and sorrow, it was time to embark upon a great journey, through the perilous lands of London and Paris...


Taralyn said...

Ha ha you crack me up, waxing all prosaic. "Such a small little home for such marvelous works!" "Joe. Such a small name for such a big person!" Hee hee. I'm a little jealous of this part of your tour, but so happy you got to see it!

The Clarks said...

i love reading your blog. =) you write cool. =) and you guys got to see such beautiful places! let's me and you go back together and you can show me it all in person. =)

Taunalee said...

Sounds good to me, Rach! Tiff and Taralyn should come too. :)

Stuart Clark said...

Um...count me in on the grand adventure! For some reason this post made me tear up with joy for you. I'm so glad you got to have this incredible experience.

Never forget how blessed you are!

Mommy T

Tiffany said...

I can't believe I am just barely seeing this!! This is another cool place. I am so glad you didn't miss it. I can't wait for London and Paris! Yay!

Stuart Clark said...

Still waiting for London and Paris....sigh