On Tuesday, July 25, I made my first trip to the Hampshire Record Office (HRO) in Winchester. I had hoped to go sooner, but due to my service obligations and research at Chawton, I didn’t get around to making my way over until the 25th.
While it is easy to get a day pass to look at documents in the HRO, I found that some of the items I wanted to check out were not available to me. This was because specific items require permission from JAHM. Luckily, some of these items are available on microfiche or on CD. What I did see on CD was very useful to my project. I looked at some letters from JA, some JA verses, two letters from Francis Austen, and two poems by her nephews.
I also was able to check out a few items that I got to hold in my hot little hands! I read through James Austen’s verses (prologues, epilogues, and poems) copied by James Edward Austen-Leigh. James does not get a lot of credit for being a great writer. On many occasions during my time in England I have heard people refer to his writing as dry and lacking imagination. I have heard people claim that the Austen family expected him to be the great writer in the family, while it was certainly Jane. I have to say that I truly enjoy James’ writings. He greatly influenced young Jane’s writings, and while her style changed, it does not mean that his or her early works are lesser IMHO. 🙂
I had planned to visit again on July 26, but the tyre blow out made that impossible.
On my second visit to HRO, which ended up being on the 27th, I looked at additional materials by Fanny Caroline Austen. These items were of a personal and historical nature. FCA’s care for family history really impresses me. I am grateful to her for taking on the task of mapping out her family history, for it helps all of us better understand Jane Austen.
I will return to the HRO on Thursday, August 3, to finish up my reading of FCA’s family history.
You might have noticed that this post did not include any fantastic pictures. Alas, no one is allowed to take pictures in the HRO without paying a £15 fee!
Oh, well. I will show you what the HRO looks like:
Photo from the City of Winchester Trust archive gallery.
The reading room is on the bottom floor. While this picture does not show it, there is so much natural light! It is a lovely place to sit in and think about the Austen-Leigh families.