Category Archives: News

First horse fun ride at Chawton House Library

Heavy Horses at Chawton HouseFirst horse fun ride at Chawton House Library to raise funds for estate’s heavy horses to preserve agricultural tradition

Chawton House Library is hosting its first horse fun ride across six miles of normally restricted farmland on the Chawton estate to raise money for the upkeep and training of five heavy horses that work on the land.

More than 100 riders have already signed up for the event on Sunday, 21 September, which runs from 10am to 4pm.

Each participant will receive a Chawton House Library rosette and riders and their helpers will also enjoy free entry to explore the gardens, which includes a walled garden, wilderness and a ha-ha.

Tea and cake will be on sale in the Old Kitchen and there will be other refreshments available.

Children from Chawton CE Primary School have created some wonderful artwork showing horses and Hampshire rural landscapes for one of the many optional cross-country jumps on the course for more experienced riders.

Chawton House Library, a leading study centre for early English women’s writing, is home to the best preserved and, possibly, the only Elizabethan riding stables in Hampshire.  Visitors on the day will be able to see the building, now converted into accommodation for Chawton House Library’s visiting fellows.  There will be the chance meet the heavy horses and learn more about the role they play in maintaining the estate using traditional agricultural methods. Visitors who are interested in this cause will also have the opportunity to sponsor a Chawton House Library Shire.

Angie Mclaren, Head Groom at Chawton House Library, said: “Heavy horses that are trained in traditional agricultural methods are essential to work on the estate. Horse’s hooves are far less damaging to flora and fauna than machinery and therefore horses are ideal for forestry and timber extraction work.”

She added: “The horse fun ride is a fantastic opportunity for riders to gain rare access to some really beautiful Hampshire countryside.  We are thrilled at the level of interest we have received so far and hope this is the start of an annual event at Chawton House Library.”

Tickets are £12.50 in advance or £18 on the day.  Horses under four-years-old are not eligible to participate and children less than eight-years-old must be accompanied by an adult.

Book tickets here or call Chawton House Library on 01420 541010.

 

Event revives a long tradition of riding on the historic Estate and Parkland.

Fun Ride on the 21st September will draw a crowd of horses and riders, the likes of which have not been seen for many years on the Chawton Estate.

The long tradition of riding is visible on the Chawton Estate due to the presence of the best preserved, and possibly the only, Elizabethan riding stables in Hampshire.  This very high status building was built to emphasise the architecture of the Great House and would have stabled up to 15 fine riding horses (the Rolls Royces of their day).  Such animals were an essential need and symbol of money and power for the aristocracy.  During the Tudor period in which Chawton House was built by the Knight family, there were special incentives to keep and breed horses, as Henry VIII took steps to reduce the acute shortage caused by his military campaigns and the dissolution of the abbeys.

The Hampshire Hunt meet at Chawton House in 1915

The Hampshire Hunt meet at Chawton House in 1915

Riding continued to be a prominent feature of life on the estate throughout the Georgian age with Jane Austen’s nephew Edward, whose main home was at the manor, referred to as an ‘unrivalled horseman’. Hunting and gymkhanas took place throughout the 19thand 20th centuries with the Knight family displaying a keen interest in horses, right up to the last Knight to grow up in the house, who held an amateur jockey’s licence.

‘Keep a Woman on English Banknotes’

DebtandHerDebtorsss‘Keep a Woman on English Banknotes’ campaigner to support Hampshire event that explores the history and role of money in our lives

Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully fought to keep a woman on a Bank of England note, is to visit Hampshire to give a public lecture at Chawton House Library, a leading study centre for early English women’s writing.

The feminist activist will talk about the role of women and money in contemporary political culture.

The lecture is part of a two-day event, The Image of Finance: Why Jane Austen on the £10 Note Matters, which celebrates the Bank of England’s decision to depict Jane Austen on the £10 note.

AltonThe event has been organised in partnership with the University of Southampton, the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council and coincides with the arrival in Hampshire of the national touring exhibition Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present.

The two-day event at Chawton House Library runs from Friday 19 to Saturday 20 September and delegates can choose to attend one or both days, or the free lecture alone on the Friday evening.

The Show Me the Money exhibition is the first in-depth exploration of the visual culture of the financial world from historical illustrations, prints, cartoons and games to contemporary painting, photography, video and installation. Touring to Sunderland, Hampshire and Manchester, the exhibition tells a particular financial story in each region.

In Hampshire, the exhibition will be shown simultaneously at Chawton House Library and at Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery, one of Britain’s leading galleries of contemporary art. At Chawton House Library, the emphasis will be on the critical but often overlooked role that women have played in telling the story of contemporary finance.

On display will be work by leading female artists, such as Jane Lawson, Rhiannon Williams, Geraldine Juárez, Justine Smith and Victoria Bradbury, who are concerned with exploring the material quality of money and finance, and the tension between money’s essential place in our lives and its fragile and transitory nature.

This includes William’s My Loss is My Loss, a paper quilt made from a decade’s worth of lottery tickets to Juárez’s Hello Bitcoin, a video installation of the artist burning a bitcoin, to Smith’s A Bigger Bang, a piece that represents deregulated finance through a cut-up map of money.

The two-day programme for The Image of Finance: Why Jane Austen on the £10 Note Matters features:

Cultural historians and theorists will join curators from the British Museum and British Library to discuss and debate the material forms of money, and ask: What does money really stand for?

Ticket price: £30 (£20 for students and unwaged delegates)

(Exhibition runs from 19 September to 22 November at Chawton House Library and the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton)

To support the private exhibition preview of Show me the Money, a public lecture will be given by Caroline Criado-Perez, feminist activist and spokesperson for the successful and controversial Keep a Woman on English Banknotes campaign.

Ticket price: free (booking required) 

Speakers will address the rise of paper money and financial malpractice, the transformation of the social landscape by modern capitalism, and Austen’s own insider knowledge of the changing world of banking through her banker brother, Henry.

Ticket price: £40 (£30 for students and unwaged delegates

A two-day ticket costs £60 or £40 for students and unwaged delegates.

 

Keith Arscott, Development Director of Chawton House Library, said: “Women’s writing – and their creativity and inspiration  – of the period 1600 to 1830 is at the heart of our unique library collection.

“So, to be hosting such an exciting range of events that not only celebrate Jane Austen’s appearance on the £10 note but give much needed recognition to the role that women have played in telling the story of contemporary finance, is doubly exciting for us and reinforces everything we stand for at Chawton House Library,” he added.

Professor Nicky Marsh of the University of Southampton said: ‘Chawton House Library is an important location for the exhibition because it allows us to draw the connections between the eighteenth century origins of our current financial system, as depicted by artists such as William Hogarth and James Gillray, and the crises of the contemporary financial world.”

She added: “Chawton House Library is also the perfect venue in which to highlight the specific role that women artists and writers have played in constructing this history; for exploring the ways in which the very languages of money and the market are influenced and shaped by questions of gender.”

Chawton House Library aims to educate and inspire people of all ages to read the works of early English women writers from 1600 to 1830, from Aphra Behn to Mary Wollstonecraft, and preserve the literary heritage for academics and non-scholars for generations to come.

The house itself, which is more than 400 years old, is regularly open to visitors, alongside library readers, for tours and during public events.  It also provides research facilities for Visiting Fellows from around the world, learning projects with local schools and colleges and fosters links internationally through seminars and conferences.

For ticket sales, or to reserve a free place at the public lecture, visit Eventbrite or call Chawton House Library on 01420 541010.

Book launch and garden tour at Chawton House Library to reveal how gardens inspired the nation’s best-loved authors

Jackie Bennett small Photo credit Richard HansonChawton House Library, a leading study centre for early English women’s writing, is to host a talk and book signing event for Jackie Bennett’s latest book, The Writer’s Garden, which reveals how gardens inspired the nation’s best-loved authors, including Jane Austen.

The garden writer and historian will read from Austen’s novels and letters to show how gardens, including the historic parkland at Chawton House Library, once the home of Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, found their way into Austen’s work.

Other writers and their gardens in the illustrated book include Agatha Christie and Greenway, her home near Brixham in Devon, Virginia Woolf and Monk’s House, her 17th century cottage in Sussex and Roald Dahl and Gipsy House, his home in the Chilterns.

The event is on Wednesday, 3 September, from 11am at Chawton House Library and includes refreshments in the Old Kitchen and a tour of the listed gardens with the head gardener.

Jackie Bennett said: “It’s fascinating to learn how the writers used their gardens in lots of different ways.

“Some used them as a hideaway and somewhere to write, including Virginia Woolf, whose writing ‘shed’ is probably the most famous. Agatha Christie, on the other hand, used her garden at Greenway in Devon as a location for her crime stories.”

She added: “With other writers, including Jane Austen, it’s more difficult to pin down exactly which gardens are which in their work.

“What we do know is that Austen was familiar with grand houses, such as Chawton House Library, but her own situation was much simpler.

“She was brought up on a small holding at the family rectory in Steventon near Basingstoke, and then spent her last years at a cottage in Chawton which had far more modest gardens.”

Keith Arscott, Development Director at Chawton House Library, said: “This event is an opportunity to follow in Jane Austen’s literary and gardening footsteps and trace her journey from her childhood smallholding in Steventon, Hampshire, to the grounds of Godmersham in Kent and finally to the village of Chawton.”

He added: “Understanding how these writers across several centuries sought inspiration from their gardens, and how their outdoor space influenced their work, helps to bring both their homes and their writing to life.”

Chawton House Library aims to educate and inspire people of all ages to read the works of early English women writers from 1600 to 1830, from Aphra Behn to Mary Wollstonecraft, and preserve the literary heritage for academics and non-scholars for generations to come.

The house itself, which is more than 400 years old, is regularly open to visitors, alongside library readers, for tours and during public events.  It also provides research facilities for Visiting Fellows from around the world, learning projects with local schools and colleges and fosters links internationally through seminars and conferences.

Tickets for The Writer’s Garden event cost £11, or £8.50 for students or friends of Chawton House Library, and can be bought online at Eventbrite or call 01420 541010. Signed copies of the book, which is published by Frances Lincoln, will also be on sale on the day at an exclusive price.

 

Jane Austen Short Story Award 2014

NPG 3181; Jane Austen by Unknown artistWe are pleased to announce the winner, runners-up and finalists of the 2014 short fiction award organised by Chawton House Library.

The competition attracted entries from around the world and amongst the finalists are American, Australian and British writers. The standard of this year’s entries was very high, which made the process of adjudication challenging. It is clear from the range of stories that all of Jane Austen’s novels continue to inspire contemporary creative writers.

Our warmest congratulations to those who have made the winners’ list. Their stories will appear in an anthology to be published in 2015, details of which will be announced shortly on the Chawton House website.

Many thanks to everyone who entered the competition.

The final adjudication of entries to the competition is as follows:

First Prize:
Pamela Holmes – The Wedding Planner.

Runners Up:
Susan Piper – The Grey Lady
Marybeth Ihle – Ladies of England

Finalists:
Anne Thomas – The Power of Nurse Rooke
Claire Girvan – The Nemesis of Meryton
Deirdre Maher – Gorgeous George
Eithne Cullen – Benwick’s Tale
Elisabeth Lenckos –  Mary Crawford’s Last Letter
Emily Ruth Verona – Forgotten Things
Fiona Skepper – Farewell Lady Catherine
Janet Lee – Mary’s Silver Knife
Jocelyn Watson – The Tell-Tale Signs
Leslie McMurtry –Five Theories
Lucy Yates – Money the Hard Way
Marian Ford – The Austen Factor
Mary Fitzpatrick – My Name is Katherine Burrows
Price W. Grisham – Candour
Sandy Norris – All at Sea
Sarah Baillie – A Thing of Beauty
Sarah Shaw – Romance and Rehydration

New Executive Director For Leading Research Centre For Early English Women’s Writing – NEWS RELEASE 1st July 2014

Gillian Dow has been appointed the new Executive Director of Chawton House Library, the leading study centre for English women’s writing from 1600 to 1830.

Dr Dow will be focusing on developing a fundraising strategy to ensure the charity’s long-term sustainability. This will include increasing legacies and major donations from individuals, and building stronger relationships outside academic circles with the business world.

Dr Dow, 38, has been with the charity since 2005, and was previously responsible for organising conferences, lectures and events, as well as running the prestigious Visiting Fellowship programme with the University of Southampton.

She will continue to develop the academic activities at Chawton House Library with the support of colleagues in the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.

Prior to joining the University of Southampton in 2005, Dr Dow, a graduate of the University of Glasgow and Balliol College, Oxford, taught French and English at several Oxford colleges and at Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne University, and also worked as a translator.

Dr Sandy Lerner, Founder of Chawton House Library and Chair of its Board of Trustees, said: “The commitment, intelligence, energy and creativity that Gillian has brought to our programme made her our obvious first choice.

“I’m grateful to offer this leadership and continuity to our friends, scholars and, of course, our ladies.” 

Executive Director, Dr Gillian Dow, said: “When people choose to support or make a donation to Chawton House Library, they need to have to have a clear sense of what it is they’re supporting.

“We’re a study centre and our collection of writings is unique: there isn’t one like it anywhere else and that needs to be our focus.

“Women’s writing of the period of the 1600 to 1830 period will be at the heart of everything we do. The women writers of this period were such a diverse and intrepid bunch that we will never run out of ideas for how to promote our collection.”

Chawton House Library aims to educate and inspire people of all ages to read the works of early English women writers from 1600 to 1830, from Aphra Behn to Mary Wollstonecraft, and preserve the literary heritage for academics and non-scholars for generations to come.

The house itself, which is more than 400 years old and belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, is regularly open to visitors, alongside library readers, for tours and during public events.  It also provides research facilities for Visiting Fellows from around the world, learning projects with local schools and colleges and fosters links internationally through seminars and conferences.

For more information, read Dr Dow’s blog post about her new appointment and vision for the Chawton House Library.

Chawton House Library appoints first artist-in-residence – NEWS RELEASE 11th June

George Rice Smith, Chawton House Library's new artist-in-residenceAn aspiring local artist has been appointed as Chawton House Library’s first ever artist-in-residence.

George Rice-Smith from Alton will spend the next three months creating drawings and paintings inspired by the architecture and landscape of the house and grounds that once belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen KnightHe will also look to the charity’s collection of early English women’s writing from 1600 to 1830 for ideas, including works by Jane Austen and Mary Shelley.

The artist’s work will eventually be displayed in an exhibition at Chawton House Library, with some pieces available for sale.

The new voluntary post is an opportunity for Chawton House Library to support and encourage talent within the local community whilst highlighting the history and heritage of its collection of women’s writing, along with the house and landscaped gardens set within the South Downs National Park.

The charity aims to educate and inspire people of all ages to read the works of early English women writers and preserve the literary heritage for academics and non-scholars for generations to come.

The house itself is regularly open to visitors, alongside library readers, for tours and during public events.  It also provides research facilities for Visiting Fellows from around the world, learning projects with local schools and colleges and fosters links internationally through seminars and conferences.

Keith Arscott, Development Director at Chawton House Library, said: “Finding new ways to build links with our local community and encourage interest in the literary heritage that we work hard to preserve is close to our hearts at Chawton House Library.”

“Having an artist-in-residence to capture the essence and spirit of the place and, in return, helping them to grow and develop and build a name for themselves, is a very fitting collaboration,” he added.

George Rice-Smith said: “When painting landscapes, it can be difficult to find a location with a number of inspiring motifs to paint within walking distance of each other but Chawton House Library has it all. It is also an unusually tranquil environment in which to work”.

He added: “It’s great to have interest and encouragement from such a unique organisation and the chance to develop my skills in landscape painting and build up my portfolio. I also hope my appointment will help establish the residency for other artists in the future.”

George studied art and visual culture at the University of West England in Bristol before completing a post-graduate programme at the Prince’s Drawing School in London in 2013. Visit George’s website for examples of his work.

Women’s writings from First World War to be celebrated at Chawton House Library – NEWS RELEASE 4th June

War Girls CD cover 2014Poetry and prose by women in the First World War, recorded for the first time for an audio book, will be performed at Chawton House Library to commemorate women’s unsung wartime experiences.

Actress Ruth Sillers will talk about and perform extracts from her own audio book compilation, War Girls, which includes writings of ordinary women alongside well-known poets and novelists.

The collection depicts women’s loss of husbands, sons and brothers, the dangers or working in munitions factories, experiencing life in the services and their first glimpse of greater freedom and opportunities.

The event is on Wednesday, 11 June, from 2.00pm at Chawton House Library, a leading study centre for early English women’s writing, and includes afternoon tea.

The audio book includes works by Katherine Mansfield, Sylvia Pankhurst, Edith Sitwell and Virginia Woolf, as well as a poignant poem by Nora Griffiths, The Wykhamist, about a dead soldier and former Winchester College pupil.

War Girls also features much-loved songs from the period, including Keep The Home Fires Burning, Till We Meet Again and Roses of Picardy.

Ruth Sillers said: “I tried to pick pieces not simply because they were written by famous authors but because they had something relevant and powerful to say. A lot of the writings are by unknown women: just ordinary women living in extraordinary times.”

She added: “I wanted to show the widest range of women’s experiences of the First World War and the social impact it had on their lives at the time, as well as the legacy it left behind.”

Keith Arscott, Development Director at Chawton House Library, said: “For an organisation which preserves and promotes women’s writing, we thought it fitting for Chawton House Library to remember the First World War with an event that recognises and celebrates women’s contribution to the war effort and their experiences.”

“The role that women played in the Great War has been largely overlooked and War Girls is a treasure trove of women’s writing from that period and a wonderful tribute that acknowledges women’s personal hardship and suffering, as well as the beginning of greater opportunities for them,” he added.

Chawton House Library aims to educate and inspire people of all ages to read the works of early English women writers from 1600 to 1830 and preserve the literary heritage for academics and non-scholars for generations to come.

The house itself is regularly open to visitors, alongside library readers, for tours and during public events.  It also provides research facilities for Visiting Fellows from around the world, learning projects with local schools and colleges and fosters links internationally through seminars and conferences.

Tickets for the War Girls event cost £11, or £8.50 for students or friends of Chawton House Library and can be bought online or call 01420 541010. Copies of the audio book, which is published by Crimson Cats, will also be on sale on the day.

CEO bids farewell to Chawton

steve3After six and a half years at the helm, CEO Steve Lawrence is sadly leaving Chawton House Library. Read his blog here.

Talk and Afternoon Tea, Wednesday 11th June 2014

Talk and Afternoon Tea, ‘War Girls’ with Ruth Sillers

Ruth Sillers, who began her career with the National Youth Theatre and reads regularly for Radio 4 and the BBC world service, will be talking about and performing extracts from her own audiobook compilation, War Girls. The study is a commemoration of the remarkable and largely unsung experiences of women in the First World War told in their own words. Some are the writings of well-known poets and novelists, but many more are the stories of ordinary women living in extraordinary times. These are stories not just of hardship and suffering but joy and excitement at the new opportunities opening up for women.

2.00 p.m. Talk, 3.00 p.m. Afternoon tea.

Tickets £11; Students / Friends £8.50

Book tickets online or ring the library direct: 01420 541010

 

Jane Austen Short Story Award 2014

Jane_Austen_coloured_versionShort List Announced

The selection of those who have made it through to the third stage of the competition – the ‘Shortlist’ – has been made. Congratulations to these entrants. The winner, runners-up and finalists will be announced on July 18 2014.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story. The competition attracted entries from all over the world, from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, Canada and the USA. The standard was particularly high this year, which led to some tough decisions in selecting a shortlist.

The short list:

Anne Thomas – The Power of Nurse Rooke
Christina Acosta – The Fall
Claire Girvan – The Nemesis of Meryton
Deirdre Maher – Gorgeous George
Eithne Cullen – Benwick’s Tale
Elisabeth Lenckos – Mary Crawford’s Last Letter
Emily Ruth Verona – Forgotten Things
Fiona Skepper – Farewell Lady Catherine
Janet Lee – Mary’s Silver Knife
Jocelyn Watson – The Tell-Tale Signs
Judith Hemington – Eyes Opened
Kristin Celms – The Altar
Leslie McMurtry -Five Theories
Lucy Yates – Money the Hard Way
Marian Ford – The Austen Factor
Mary Fitzpatrick – My Name is Catherine Burrows
Marybeth Ihle – Ladies of England
Moz Walls – Taking the Cure
Pamela Holmes – The Wedding Planner
Penelope Randall – Mary Bennet and the i-phone
Price W. Grisham – Candour
Sandy Norris – All at Sea
Sarah Baillie – A Thing of Beauty
Sarah Shaw – Romance and Rehydration
Susan Piper – The Grey Lady

From these entries 20 will be selected for publication. The first prize winner and two runners-up will be chosen from amongst the successful entries. The results will be announced on 18 July 2014.