If you follow me on my own blog and this one, you might get a little bit of repeat when covering my time at Jane Austen Regency week this year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the entire week but I did try to pack my time with as much as I could when the weather allowed.
For those who are not familiar with Jane Austen Regency Week, it is held during the third week of June every year in Alton and Chawton in Hampshire. It’s a beautiful country and Alton and Chawton are very friendly and lovely places to visit. One of my favorite parts is how easy it is to just walk everywhere. I hardly drive around town unless it is a necessity.
Jane Austen Regency Week always kicks off with Regency Day on the first Saturday. Craft stalls, Maypole Dancing, a petting stall, and musicians were among this year’s attractions. People, some attired in Regency dress, milled the different booths and enjoyed the day. Meanwhile, I shared a stall and chatted with the knowledgeable Jane Hurst, who is a local historian, and can tell you which houses Jane Austen was likely to have known in both Alton and Chawton, and Martyn Dell, a trustee for the Jane Austen House Museum.
The Austen Variations stall had books by Maria Grace and myself this year as well as a drawing for a basket of Jane Austen goodies (and a bit of tea to go with the cup 🙂 ). I also gave out small bags filled with bookmarks from several Austen Variations authors (Abigail Reynolds, Maria Grace, Katie Oliver, and myself) as well as an Austen Variations postcard, note card, and bookmark.
Quite a few people attended the dance workshop after Regency Day, but after a long day on my feet, I went back to St. Mary’s Hall and put my toes up until the ball that evening. And what a ball it was! They sold out on tickets this year, which didn’t make for a crush, but did make the dance floor a bit tight at times. The Hampshire Regency Dancers did a great job including everyone and demonstrating the dances while the Hampshire Regency Players provided live music. When you combine nice refreshments and good company, it made for a fine time indeed.
Sunday, I enjoyed the Arts and Crafts fair in the Chawton Village Hall, the Shire Horses from Chawton House Library being led through Chawton, and a walk through the Jane Austen House Museum, where I donated copies of my books to the Reading Room. Martin Dell had told me about a new piece they have called the “Sermon Scrap” that I wanted to see as well as the Prince Regent’s copy of Emma, which is on loan. (Find more about the Sermon Scrap here.) I always enjoy the gift shop there a bit too much and today was no different. My souvenir to myself this time is a copy of The Beautiful Cassandra. I’ve never read it and I look forward to finally giving it a look. I finally made it inside Chawton House and got to see the library as well.
Monday dawned rainy and very wet, so I stuck close to Alton. I had a lovely visit with fellow author Cassandra Grafton as well. Monday evening, I played stand-in for Maria Grace at a talk about her wonderful book A Jane Austen Christmas on Regency Christmas Traditions. Anyone who has seen Grace speak knows she is a wonderful public speaker. I had some big shoes to fill!
I know the rest of the week had speakers such as Angela Barlow (Austen Actors), Sue Dell (on Jane Austen’s Quilt), Dr. Kathrin Pieren (Dress during the Regency Period), Dr. Bob France (Stedman the Regency Butler), and Kimberley James (Connection between Jane Austen and Gilbert White). They again had tours of the attics at Jane Austen House Museum (I would love to go up there again!), a Regency wine and cheese tasting, and even a bonnet making workshop. They had a jam-packed schedule! Just click on schedule to find this year’s program.
I hated that my part of Regency Week had to end so soon, but real life called. I hope next year, I can take part in more of the festivities. I hear they are planning a banner year for the commemoration of Jane Austen’s death. I hope to see you there!
Huge thanks to Joan at St. Mary’s Hall for her wonderful room and breakfasts! Her converted Arts and Crafts period church is the perfect place to stay 🙂