I’ve spent the last several weeks moving The Republic of Pemberley to a new server and a new platform. This is the fourth or fifth time our web site has moved since it started as a one-horse bulletin board on a small local server. This, however, is the first moved necessitated by the need to retrench and it made me think about the moves that Jane Austen made in her life, all them driven by the shrinking income as a result of her father’s retirement and then death.
Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire. The Steventon parsonage in which she was born and in which she spent her childhood is no longer standing, but St. Nicholas Church, where her father was vicar, is still there and still honors her memory. When George Austen retired and turned his church over to his son, James in 1801, he and his wife and two daughters moved to Bath. They first leased 4 Sydney Place, a good location and fine building, but moved to Green Park Buildings in 1804.
When Jane Austen first looked at Green Park Buildings in 1801, she wrote to her sister: Our views on G. P. Buildings seem all at an end; the observation of the damps still remaining in the offices of an house which has been only vacated a week, with reports of discontented families and putrid fevers, has given the coup de grace. We have now nothing in view. When you arrive, we will at least have the pleasure of examining some of these putrefying houses again; they are so very desirable in size and situation, that there is some satisfaction in spending ten minutes within them.
And yet, within three years, they had moved into them. At George Austen’s death in 1805, his income from the livings in Hampshire ceased and money became even tighter, forcing Mrs. Austen, Cassandra, and Jane to move from Green Park Buildings to 25 Gay Street.
At this time, Jane’s brothers began talking about supporting their mother and sisters. In 1807, the three Austen women moved from Bath to Castle Square in Southampton.
In 1809, Edward Austen Knight, offered the Bailiff’s cottage on his estate in Chawton to his mother and sisters. Jane Austen moved to Chawton cottage in July of that year and lived there until the year of her death, in 1817, when she spent May through July in Winchester at 8 College Street to be near her doctor.
Jane’s years in Chawton were a fecund period for her writing. There she revised Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, and wrote Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion.
We hope that the Republic of Pemberley’s move with Jane Austen is as successful as her removal to Chawton. Please come visit us at our new home.
Congratulations on the move! You can be sure I’ll be visiting. I don’t participate as much as I’d like but it’s one of the sites I go to when I have questions on matters Jane Austen or Regency. And my husband finds the Pemberley store a great place to look for stocking stuffers for me. 🙂
Congrats on the move! I do love the site and I spend entirely too much time cruising through the information you have there. And I can hardly resist the temptation of the store! After years of traveling as an Air Force brat and later with a traveling opera company I am not overly fond of moving. Travel, yes! Moving, no!
Congrats on the move and thank you for posting the images of places where JA lived. What a lovely drawing of the rectory!
Myretta, my heart goes out to you girlfriend. Moving a household is such a challenge. You never know how much “stuff” you have until you have to look at it, box it up or pass it along. Moving a major site like Pemberley – now I don’t even know how to throw enough love your way. Thanks for all the you do.
Enjoyed revisiting Jane’s mobile life during her “wilderness years”. I do not even want it image what her life would have been like if she had not finally settled at Chawton. We might not have the novels that we do have of hers to enjoy. Shudder.
Best wishes to Pemberley at its new home.