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Gentle Readers: I welcome today Ron Dunning, author of the Jane Austen’s Family Website. Ron had written here before on Horsmonden in “Jane Austen and the Huguenots” – but today he tells of a hot air balloon ride he and his wife Helena took in 2008 where he took these wonderful pictures of Kent and the surrounding countryside – enjoy the ride!

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17 Sheep

Sheep

Horsmonden from on High

by Ron Dunning

For my birthday in the spring of 2008 Helena, my wife, bought me a ticket for a hot-air balloon flight. I preferred to share the pleasure, so I waited till her birthday a few months later, and bought one for her.  The weather that summer was very wet, and it wasn’t possible to book a flight until early October. We chose a launch site in Wadhurst, on the Sussex border with Kent, an area that we know and love, on what turned out to be a golden Indian summer’s afternoon.

The direction of a balloon’s flight is entirely dependent on the wind. I had given no prior thought to the fact that the Austens’ ancestral heartland of Goudhurst and Horsmonden lay only some ten miles away, but the wind took us, at 12 mph, precisely in that direction. I only realised that this was our on our route as we passed over St Margaret of Antioch in Pisidia – Horsmonden’s parish church, with its collection of Austen graves and memorial brasses.

Till then I had simply been enjoying the wonderfully calm experience. (Even though a balloon flies a few thousand feet above ground level its passengers aren’t troubled by wind, since it is blown along at the same speed as the air.) Now I began to scan the horizon for Broadford, and possibly even Grovehurst, the Austen houses. I couldn’t find Broadford. It may have been possible to see it, but I wouldn’t have recognised it from the south, the direction from which we were travelling, since I’d only ever seen the front, which faces north.

Grovehurst lies at least a mile further beyond the village, in wooded country. The wind, and our so ground speed, had dropped. I spent the next fifteen minutes straining my eyes for a glimpse of the house, to no avail. Then, just as we were descending in search of a landing site in a friendly farmer’s field, and as the pilot was announcing a Gypsy site to the left, and as I had quite given up on spotting it, there was Grovehurst on the right. The pilot turned the balloon through 360 degrees (I don’t know how he managed that!) for everyone to see, and marked the Austen’s ancestral home on his map to show future passengers.

I don’t believe that there is any record of Jane Austen’s visiting Horsmonden, where her grandfather William Austen was born. His heroic mother, Elizabeth Weller, had to take a housekeeping job at Sevenoaks School in 1708 to keep her family together, and that broke the Austens’ relationship with the village. It would not be an anachronism to imagine Jane, if she had visited, seeing her ancestral home by air – on 19 September 1783 Pilatre De Rozier, a scientist, launched the first hot air balloon called ‘Aerostat Reveillon.’ The first manned flight came two months later on November 21, with a balloon made by two French brothers, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier.

At that time, when the fastest land transport proceeded at the rate of a trotting horse, ascending in a balloon and flying with the wind would have struck most people as terrifying and mad. As it happens my wife, who is normally fearless, asked me if I too had been worried. I confess that my imagination is generally vividly aware of consequences – and there we were at 2000 feet, with no parachutes, in a wicker laundry basket! But I was so absorbed in reconnaissance that I had forgotten to give the danger any thought.

Arrival

Arrival

Still a Blank Slate

Still a Blank Slate

Taking Shape

Taking Shape I

Taking Shape

Taking Shape II

Inflation

Inflation

Inflation II

Inflation II

Firing up

Firing up

Rising Up

Rising Up

Rising Up II

Rising Up II

Lifting Off

Lifting Off

Aloft

Aloft

Neighbour

Neighbour!

Bayham Abbey Ruins

Bayham Abbey Ruins

Lamberhurst

Lamberhurst

Bewl Water

Bewl Water

St Margaret of Antioch in Pisidia

St Margaret of Antioch in Pisidia

Horsmonden

Horsmonden

Grovehurst

Grovehurst

Kent

Kent

Groundlings

Groundlings

Pursuit Vehicle

Pursuit Vehicle

Landing Strip

Landing Strip

Skid Marks

Skid Marks

Packing Up

Packing Up

Stowing Away

Stowing Away

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Thank you Ron for this beautiful travelogue of Kent from the air!

I have to add that I have won a raffle only one time in my life, and that was for a hot-air balloon ride – it was quite the adventure, a totally unique experience of floating above the world without the usual noisy airplane sounds, so quiet and peaceful that I never wanted it to end – but we had a sudden wind pick-up and took off away from the tracer car [and my family who were following - my son, 7 years old at the time thought I had disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again; my nearly teenaged daughter was hoping beyond hope that was true!] and had a quite dramatic crash landing at a reservoir, all diving out of the basket to keep the balloon from falling into the water – but alas! my pictures, though quite lovely of the Connecticut countryside, are all on slides and do not, believe it or not, have anything to do with Jane Austen…

Anyone want to comment on Ron’s journey and photographs? or add any of your own ballooning adventures [whether Jane Austen-related or not!]?

Text and images copyright by Ronald Dunning, with thanks!

c 2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

Janeite Deb:

This is a lovely [and long!] post from Nan Quick with fabulous pictures on the Chelsea Flower show. I arrived in London on the last day of the show but didn’t get there – so this feels like I did after all! Thank you Nan for such an in-depth view!

Originally posted on nanquick:

The Daily Telegraph Garden, at the 2014  Chelsea Flower Show. This is just a portion of the elegant space designed by Tommaso del Buono and Paul Gazerwitz. Tommaso grew up in Florence, and Paul in New York, and together they have an international practice, based in Shoreditch, East London. Here, a giant panel of Nocino Travertine Limestone punctuates a tall, green hedge. Low topiaries, pruned into pincushion shapes, flank a bench that floats in front of the limestone.

The Daily Telegraph Garden, at the 2014
Chelsea Flower Show. This is just a portion of the elegant space designed by Tommaso del Buono and Paul Gazerwitz. Tommaso grew up in Florence, and Paul in New York, and together they have an international practice, based in Shoreditch, East London. Here, a giant panel of Nocino Travertine Limestone punctuates a tall, green hedge. Low topiaries, pruned into pincushion shapes, flank a bench that floats in front of the limestone.

Late July 2014.

September of 2008: As I was displaying my garden furniture in a rather grotty convention hall in Birmingham, England, I was invited by a representative of the Royal Horticultural Society to exhibit my designs at their next Chelsea Flower Show. And so, in May of 2009, I found myself and my creations arranged in an elegant tent, on the grounds that surround Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital, in London. I’d…

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Janeite Deb:

Syrie James on her new novel “Jane Austen’s First Love” – don’t miss out on the giveaways from Austenprose and others on the Blog Tour! Can’t wait to read this – Love Syrie James’ books!

Originally posted on Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog:

JAFL blog tour banner x 500

I am very pleased to welcome author Syrie James to Austenprose today to officially open her virtual book launch party and blog tour of Jane Austen’s First Love, published by Berkley Trade. This new Austenesque novel is a fascinating combination of fact and fiction, exploring the first romance of fifteen year-old Jane Austen with the handsome and sophisticated Edward Taylor. 

Syrie has generously offered a guest blog sharing her inspiration to write her new book—and to add to the festivities—we will be offering an amazing selection of giveaways including: trade paperback copies of Jane Austen’s First Love, a muslin tote bag stuffed with Jane Austen goodies, and a specially commissioned painting inspired by the novel. Just leave a comment following this blog post to enter. The contest details are listed below. Good luck to all. 

Please join us in welcoming Syrie James.

The inspiration for my…

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Dear Gentle Readers: Today I welcome Margaret Harrington, a member of JASNA and happily for us, the Vermont Region. Margaret recently returned from her immersion in Sense and Sensibility at the Jane Austen Summer Program at UNC Chapel Hill, June 12-15, 2014. She shares with us her thoughts with pictures – looks to have been a delightful adventure!

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The Jane Austen Summer Program at UNC ~
Sense & Sensibility Revisited”

by Margaret Harrington, JASNA Vermont member

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Jane Austen’s juvenilia play “Jack and Alice” given a lively performance

[Note: JASP has graciously made this production available online - you can view it here:
http://janeaustensummer.org/2014/06/30/2015-jasp-video-of-theatricals-jack-and-alice/ ]

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I experienced blissful immersion in Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility during this four day conference at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. From the gracious reception at the UNC Friday Center throughout the days and evenings of serious enjoyment, I conclude that this was a wonderful personal adventure. There were lectures, teas, regency dancing, a play, movies, intense conversations about Jane Austen, and some thunder storms. The conference offered study of the book itself, provided insight into the culture in which it was written, and even gave a pleasant glimpse of one or two aspects of contemporary culture in the American south.

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A warm welcome from Emma, Emily and Rachel at the UNC Friday Center

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‘Elevenses’ of clotted cream and scones dished up by Gisele Rankin of JASNA North Carolina

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 Lunch on the lawn with kite flying and shuttlecock

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The ‘Sense and Sensibility’ Ball at Gerrard Hall, UNC

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 Drama at the Sense and Sensibility Ball

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Dr. James Thompson of UNC-Chapel Hill co-hosted the event and set the tone for the conference as both formally educational and informally warm and welcoming.

 

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Inger Brodey

The initial lecture by his co-host Dr. Inger Brodey, also of UNC-Chapel Hill, entitled “Making Sense of Sensibility” placed us in the Regency world of the philosophers and other writers who influenced Jane Austen’s concepts. I gleaned from this opening lecture that to interpret the novel as a dichotomy between sense and sensibility or as a tension between the two mind sets of Marianne and Elinor is to limit perception.  Professor Brodey opened up a whole world of ideas which were accessible to Austen and evidenced in her writing and showed me that Sense and Sensibility has a richness of texture I had not been aware of prior to the lecture.

In fact the days were planned to deepen understanding of the novel with 15 minute context corners on the subjects of Law and Inheritance, Childhood and Education, Medicine and Illness, and the Clergy and the Church. These were followed with 45 minute Context Response sessions during which we, the participants, exchanged ideas. Then of course there were ‘Elevenses’ with scones and clotted cream. There were boxed lunches on the lawn with kites, battledore and shuttlecock as period entertainment. There were dance workshops to prepare us for the Regency ball. There was an amusing and informative lecture by Colgate University Professor Deborah Knuth Klenck on: “Jane Austen’s School of Rhetoric: Style, Substance and ‘Delicacy of Mind.’”

 

 

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Jade Bettin, UNC-Chapel Hill, demonstrates (on a willing participant) the way to corset up properly during her lecture “‘But he talked of flannel waistcoats’: How Clothing Makes the Men and Women of S&S.”

 

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 Ruth Verbunt of the North Carolina Regency Assembly after her insightful talk “Mourning in the Time of Jane Austen”

[see also their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/regencyassembly.ofnorthcarolina ]

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Dr. Robert Clark, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, author of The Literary Encyclopedia, was an amazing speaker in the two lectures he gave to expand and deepen our understanding of Sense and Sensibility. In the first he concentrated on the economic facts that drove Jane Austen’s world, such as The Inclosure Act of 1773, which diminished the number of people who could own land to under 500 in all of England, entitling an oligarchical society to the prestige and privileges Austen’s characters scramble so hard to hold onto in her novels. In his second lecture entitled “The White Glare of Bath,” Professor Clark made Jane Austen’s playground of intrigue, balls, and shopping come alive up from the ground in the white stones and mortar and rubble that savvy developers offered to the rich for their recreational homes. In his remarkable lecture I could see Jane Austen moving about Bath, shopping and promenading, visiting, plotting her novels.

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 Dr. Robert Clark relaxes a moment after his talk on Bath

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All in all my experience was totally wonderful and I’d recommend it to Janeites everywhere. Next year’s conference is entitled “Emma at 200.”

Imagine that!

I leave you with a picture of Janeite Maureen O’Connor who attended the conference from far away Brooklyn and dressed authentically for every occasion:

Maureen O'Connor

Maureen O’Connor

Text and images by Margaret Harrington, with thanks!

I suggest we all mark our calendars now for next June 18-21, 2015! info is here: http://janeaustensummer.org/

 c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

Janeite Deb:

JASNA-Vermont’s Kelly McDonald has an article in the new issue of “Jane Austen’s Regency World”!

Originally posted on Two Teens in the Time of Austen:

Just thrilled to bits to see the release of the July/August issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine: my article on Margaret Meen is included:

Jane Austen Regency World_8-14

Margaret Meen – believed by some to have been governess to the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park – AKA, Lady Northampton, Mrs Chute, Mrs Smith and Miss Smith – was definitely a painter (on vellum and paper) of botanicals, and a teacher. Including, as the JARW line suggests: to the Royal family of Queen Charlotte and her girls. I truly hope that I’ve uncovered a bit of “life” for this somewhat undiscovered artist — and invite you to seek out a copy of the full-color publication that promises to deliver “EVERYTHING that is happening in the world of Jane Austen“, including this tidbit of Smith & Gosling history.

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Janeite Deb:

Laurel Ann’s review of the book “Belle” by Paula Byrne – I highly recommend it…

Originally posted on Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog:

Belle by Paula Byrne 2014 x 200From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Commissioned by the producers of the new movie Belle, acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne aims to reveal the true story behind the main characters in the movie: Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an African slave, and her great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-93) and Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice is both a companion volume to the popular movie and a time capsule into the turbulent abolition movement in the late eighteenth-century England.

Inspired by the 1779 portrait of Dido and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, screenwriter Misan Sagay has written a compelling story based on facts she first learned of while visiting the 2007, Slavery and Justice Exhibition. Dido and Elizabeth were Lord Mansfield’s wards and raised together at…

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Lisa & Marie

Lisa & Marie

With hearty thanks to Lisa Brown for sharing her love of the Royal Navy with us Vermont Janeites, and to Marie Sprayberry for telling us of her shared-with-Jane rabid dislike of the Prince Regent and why, and displaying examples from her Georgian era royal collectibles – a most delightful day, despite the intense heat of Burlington’s heat wave and the Fletcher Free Library’s air conditioning on the fritz… [I have now successfully subjected our members and guests to one freezing December Tea where the computerized heating system refused to cooperate and we listened most intently to the two speakers, quietly shivering in our winter coats; and now the reverse of overheating the same members and guests with no air and loud fans in the skylight heated Pickering Room – as one guest bravely noted – “it was all a cost-free day in a sauna” ] – I find I have some control over these meetings, but alas! minus zero control over the weather and heating / cooling system snafus – I do apologize and thank you for your tolerance and good grace as an audience…

That said, extra kudos go to the models who courageously wore their wool-clad Royal Navy uniforms with elegance and style, as they paraded for us samples from Lisa’s wonderful collection.  Here are a few pictures with descriptions of each, with thanks to our fearless models for being such good sports:

able seaman-MH

 Marilyn as appropriately clad “able seaman”
[photo: c2014 M. Harrington]

IMG_3639

Jim in the green Sharpe’s uniform of the “95th Rifles”
[see: http://www.95thrifles.com/history-95th-p1.html ]
[photo: c2014 M. Harrington]

Jess-red

Jess and her redcoat from the Royal Welch Fusiliers

 Carol-USNavy

Carole in the blue and red uniform as a “US” Navy Lieutenant during the Revolutionary War

 Jay-rearIMG_3647

 Jay [a.k.a. Captain Wentworth] in an 1812 Royal Navy Captain’s uniform, deservedly admiring his epaulette
[see: http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/71310.html ]
[top photo c2014 M. Harrington]

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DSC00051

And a group shot of us all with Lisa (minus the able seaman, who had left to swab the deck), and with yours truly in the quickly donned uniform of a French Navy Lieutenant.

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Marie’s talk on the Prince Regent was cut short near the end by the heat and near fainting attendees, which was too bad as we were all quite taken with her chat on the dastardly Prince and his wicked ways – you can read the rest of her talk here in Persuasions-OnLine 33.1 (2012):

“Sex, Power, and Other People’s Money: The Prince Regent and His Impact on Jane Austen’s Life and Work” http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol33no1/sprayberry.html

sprayberry-fig-6a-caro-jug

 “Long Live Queen Caroline!” ceramic jug (1820)
[from the collection of A. Marie Sprayberry and Edward R. Voytovich;
photo by E. Voytovich] [see the POL article for more images of Marie's collection]

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All in all a great day, with a great audience, and a fun weekend with Marie and Lisa, here cavorting about at the incomparable Shelburne Museum… Marie (left) and Lisa (right) on a Vermont covered bridge:

DSC00030

DSC00016

 Gaoled JASNA Regional Coordinators Marie and Lisa (hoping to be released in time for the Montreal AGM]

[All images c2014 by Deb Barnum, unless otherwise noted; and with special thanks to Margaret Harrington!]

  c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont
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