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Friday, 31 January 2014

Netley Abbey

Netley Abbey, near Southampton, was home to the Cistercian Order. It was founded by the Bishop of Winchester in 1238, but fell victim to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries 300 years later.

The abbey became home to Sir William Paulet, and it was used as a family home until the early eighteenth century, when it was abandoned. 

Its romantic ruins provided inspiration for painters like John Constable, author Horace Walpole and the poet Thomas Gray. Netley is said to have provided inspiration for Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey, which was published posthumously the year after her death.

In a letter to her sister Cassandra, Jane Austen mentions a boat ride along the nearby river Itchen with her two nephews in October 1808.

Images of Netley Abbey © Sue Wilkes

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Jane Austen in Southampton

Following her father George's death in January 1805, Jane Austen, her mother and sister Cassandra eventually settled in Southampton, where they stayed until mid-1809.

In March 1807 they took a house in Castle Square, on the site of the Juniper Berry pub (images left and below). Jane attended at least two dances in the Dolphin Hotel (images right and below) in a ballroom on the first floor (behind the bay windows).

Sadly, many of Southampton's historic buildings were lost owing to bomb damage in WW2, including All Saints, the church where Jane worshipped, on the high street.

The City of Southampton Society has published a free heritage trail leaflet so that you can follow in Jane's footsteps.



All photos (c) Sue Wilkes.
Engraving of Southampton High Street in the 1890s from Our Own Country, 1898. Author's collection.

The Dolphin Hotel can be seen on the right hand side of the street in the illustration.