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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A Visit to Winchester

I've visited Winchester a couple of times before, but recently I paid my first visit to the City Mill. There's been a mill on this site since medieval times; it was rebuilt in 1744, and was in use until the twentieth century.  It has recently been restored by the National Trust, and you can watch flour being ground the traditional way. You can even buy some of the flour and have a go at making your own when you get home.  Otters play on the River Itchen, which powers the machinery, at night when the city is asleep.

We also walked past the house where Jane Austen spent her final days in 1817 (now a private residence). If you're visiting her native county of Hampshire, you might like to download a trail leaflet from here.

Images: Winchester City Mill, and the house in College St where Austen died.

© Sue Wilkes.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Jane Austen Stars

The Bank of England has just announced that Jane Austen will replace Charles Darwin on the new £10 note, which will  be issued in 2017! So if you are flush with cash, and pining for a Jane Austen fix, you'll be able to withdraw a tenner from your reticule and gaze at Jane's portrait.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Robert Owen

Social pioneer Robert Owen (1771-1858), born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, was a self-made man.  He served an apprenticeship to a linen draper at Stamford.  When he was eighteen Robert went to Manchester.  He joined a cotton firm using the revolutionary new cotton-spinning machinery
Owen was appalled by the workers' working and living conditions and wanted to help. His opportunity came when he became manager of New Lanark mills in Scotland, near the Falls of the Clyde.   

Many of the workers at the mill were child parish apprentices; some were from the Edinburgh poor house and charities in the city.  Owen vowed to end the use of parish apprentices when he began running New Lanark.You can find out more about Owen's amazing experiment at New Lanark,  his controversial social and religious theories, and his influence on the co-operative movement in my latest feature for Jane Austen's Regency World. My book The Children History Forgot also discusses Owen's care for the workers at New Lanark, the school he founded there, and his influence on the factory reform and 'Ten Hours' movement. 

Images from author's collection

Orphan School, Edinburgh, Views of Edinburgh and Its Vicinity, 1819. Children from the workhouse and charities like this one were employed in the mills at New Lanark.  

The Falls of the Clyde.  Water from the river Clyde powered the New Lanark Mills. Ladies’ Cabinet of Fashion, Music and Romance, 1837. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Changing Fashions


This ‘Cabinet of Fashion’ fashion plate for the Lady's Monthly Museum, June 1805 shows a ‘Morning dress of cambric muslin with spencer cloak of blue silk. Full dress of straw-coloured sarsenet (sic) with a tunic of rich embroidered white crape. Hair dressed with ‘Diamonds set on Velvet, with a profusion of White Ostrich Feathers.’ 

Walking dresses had acquired a more free-flowing, gentle style by the time of this undated fashion print from the Lady’s Magazine, dated circa 1813-1814 (right).  The lady's hat is sporting a huge ostrich feather.  

By 1827 waistlines had become more distinct, and the lady in this later Lady’s Magazine print (below) is wearing an enormous poke bonnet. 

You can see some fabulous images of Regency-era fashions here on Jane Odiwe's blog, and there's more info here on the Pemberley website.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Mary Hardy Diaries

Many thanks to Roy and Lesley Adkins for drawing my attention to the Mary Hardy Diaries.  This Georgian lady wrote a diary for over 36 years - from 1733-1809 - so she was a contemporary of Jane Austen.  Mary's apprentice Henry Raven also kept a journal! Mary lived in Norfolk, but travelled extensively. This looks like an amazing resource for historians.