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Archive for 'Southampton'

Southampton, Winchester and Jane Austen

During our recent visit to Great Britain, we stayed in Southampton and did a day trip to Winchester. These are both places with Jane Austen connections, and as a writer I was intrigued.

After Jane’s father died, the family had to move to Southampton for financial reasons. Jane, her sister and mother moved in with a married son. We stayed at the Dolphin hotel in Southampton, which is where Jane reportedly went dancing. Jane Austen’s 21st birthday party was held in the ballroom at this hotel. We also wandered along the city wall promenade where Jane Austen walked with her family.

Dolphin Hotel, Southampton

Jane lived in Chawton, Alton from 1809 to 1817 with her mother, her sister Cassandra and a friend Martha Lloyd. Jane became ill with a mystery disease (some sources say it was her kidneys) and Cassandra and Jane traveled to Winchester in order to receive better medical treatment. They stayed in a Castle Street house (currently a private residence) and Jane died at age 41 on 18 July 1817.

JaneAusten_CastleStreet

Jane was laid to rest at the Winchester cathedral. Her memorial stone doesn’t mention her writing and a brass plaque was added in 1872 to rectify this shortcoming.

Memorial Stone, Winchester Cathedral

Double click for larger version

JaneAusten_BrassPlaque

Brass Plaque commemorating Jane Austen’s writing.

There are lots of Jane Austen landmarks in Winchester and the surrounding Hampshire countryside. I visited only a few, given my limited time, but it was a pleasure and a privilege walking in Jane’s footsteps.

Are you a Jane Austen fan?

Holidays and History

In around six months we’re off on holiday. This time we’re flying to London and catching a cruise ship from Southampton. Part of the joy of traveling is the research, the deciding where to stay and what to do. We have long discussions about various alternatives, and recent topics have included the New Forest, transport in and around Southampton, and places to stay in Southampton and also things to see in Winchester.

We’ve decided to stay at an old hotel in Southampton called the Dolphin. It’s said that the earliest references to the hotel were found in 1454. During Elizabethan times it was frequented by foreign merchants and seaman. Guests were entertained by minstrels and other entertainers.

The hotel is said to have six resident ghosts, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them. One of the ghosts named Molly walks down the corridors with only part of her body showing because she’s walking on the original medieval timbers.

Jane Austen lived in Southampton for part of her life (1806–1809) and she celebrated her 18th birthday at the hotel.

The hotel was also a coaching inn and was used for winter assemblies. The writer William Makepeace Thackary wrote part of his novel Pendennis at the hotel. He used to sit in the large bow windows and write.

While much of Southampton was destroyed by bombing during WWII, the Dolphin escaped destruction, and it recently underwent a 4 million redevelopment. Mr Munro says just as well since that means we won’t need to use chamber pots.

Since the Dolphin is an old building some of the floors are on a bit of a slant—according to the reviews.  It all adds to the charm, and I can’t wait for our stay.

Do you enjoy planning trips or are you a more of the spur of the moment traveler?