Posts Tagged ‘hampshire’

It is a truth universally acknowledged…

10 May 2009

…that I am way behind in updates.

Before we get started, a few things:

1. Friday was my four monthaversary with England! I have been here for four months and two days. Can you believe it? Because I can’t.
2. On a similar yet opposite note, Tuesday marked T-1 month until I bid farewell to my beloved. America–I will be turning up on your doorstep in 26 days. Please be ready.
3. Hannah (my precious little sister) will be here NEXT SUNDAY!! The dynamic duo will be reunited at last!
4. Happy Mother’s Day! In my country, this holiday has already passed (similar to Canadian and American Thanksgivings) but I am worldly now and appreciate the cultural traditions of others.

Last weekend, I went to Hampshire with Miranda and Phoebe (of Bright Eyes fame) to commune with the spirit of Jane Austen and such. On the train there, it occurred to me the great lengths to which I am going to prepare for my Romantic Lit final, because I went to Wales for Tintern Abbey, and now, spoiler alert, I’ve seen Jane Austen’s house(s) and grave!

First up was Winchester, where Jane lived for a short while before she died.

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I tried knocking at her house…but she never came to the door. Not even her ghost could be bothered to make an appearance. I guess ghosts is more Bronte (been there, done that) than Austen, so I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

Then it was over to Winchester Cathedral, which has the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe (according to Wikipedia, at least…so take that with a grain of salt).

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It did seem long while we were walking around inside, but from the outside it doesn’t seem significantly larger than the other cathedrals I’ve seen. Maybe because it was kinda short. I feel like big tall cathedrals with huuuge ceilings and towers seem bigger, even if they aren’t.

We kept seeing photos of old-timey divers, with plaques praising William Walker for “single handedly” saving the cathedral from collapse.


This was very confusing because the Cathedral did not seem to be surrounded by water or anything that would require the services of a diver, but then I found this info on a diving history website:

In 1079 the foundations of the cathedral were placed on a layer of peat without knowing it. Over the years it turned out that the cathedral was sinking. Soon the layer of peat was discovered. The only way to save the cathedral was to remove the complete layer of peat and replace it with concrete. The space below the cathedral was 3.5 meters high and filled with turbid ground water. A diver had to do this job.

So I guess that makes sense. But I still don’t understand how he got under there. A reverse Count of Monte Cristo?

In other fun WC news, Mary (as in “bloody”) was married there, and Richard I (as in “lionheart”) was re-coronated there (not sure why you need 2 coronations, but there you go).

And of course!


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It was kind of like when I stood on King Henry VIII’s grave my very 1st weekend in England. My brain was just like “THE REMAINS OF A VERY IMPORTANT AND FAMOUS AND INFLUENTIAL AND LONG LASTING  PERSON ARE RIGHT UNDER HERE. Does not compute! Does not compute!”

Not that you can really compare H8 and JA as people or anything, but the experience, for me, was similarly hard to comprehend.

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I paid my respects solemnly, unlike, ahem, some people, who may or may not have danced on or around her grave. 

After some cornish pasties (that’s PAH-stees, not PAY-sties, just for the record), we went in search of the mythical round table of King Arthur fame, supposedly in the Great Hall (all that’s left of the Winchester Castle, which was built in the time of William the Conquerer). So we walk in, and the first thing I see is…

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THE ROUND TABLE! It’s so round! And table-y!

Just kidding.

This is it, really:

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You’re probably wondering, as I was, a few things about this. Obviously, it’s not really Arthur’s roundtable, but rather, it’s a 13th century imaginary imitation of what it might have been like. So then, you are now wondering, if it’s from the 13th century, why is there a gigando Tudor rose painted on it? Well, that’s because it was repainted for King H8 in the 1500s. Weird. But cool. And now we know where Merv Griffin got his inspriation for Wheel of Fortune. 

Mythical legend quotient filled for the day, we ventured by bus to nearby Chawton to see Jane Austen’s better known abode. I was following along with the cryptic instructions from the TI for where to get off (it reminded me of trying to get to the Venice hostel) when a lovely old english lady tapped me on the shoulder and said if we were trying to get to Jane Austen’s we should get off here. Looking out the window, the only thing visible was a busy roundabout and lots of trees. So either that lady was part of a plot to murder us in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road, or JA’s house was somewhere nearby.

Luckily, it was the latter.

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Jane (I’ve been to her house, so I think we’re on a first name basis now) lived here with her mother and sister Cassandra, and this is where she wrote Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion, while revising some of her other manuscripts as well.

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I’ll never complain again about my desk being too small.

Chawton is quite possibly the most charming town in the whole world. Across from Jane’s house was a pub and a tea shop and some houses and a playground, and that’s about it.


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How English is that?

Here’s a little video I made to try and capture how wonderful and storybook this town was.

There was a field with horses, and men playing cricket, and sheep!

And did I mention the THATCHED ROOFS?

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I think it might’ve been one of my all-time favorite day trips. I kept looking around and thinking, “Wow, am I really here in this actual real place that is real and not imaginary?” because it was exactly the kind of little town I dreamed about going to in England.

Please have a glance at the rest of the photos. They’re SO ENGLISH that you just might die.