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In Hampshire looking for Jane Austen

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Many people when they think of Jane Austen, they think of Bath, in fact, the well-known British writer lived for 25 years in the county of Hampshire.

This county appears relatively little in her novels, but if you go to Hampshire, you can visit some places related to the writer. In particular we can visit a museum dedicated to her which is located in a small brick cottage where the writer lived from 1809 to 1817.

This after having lived in Southampton and Bath. Clearly these larger places gave her ideas and inspiration that she would not have had in the country but it is only after returning to a quiet place that Jane Austen resumed writing.

The museum is located in Chawton and you can still see the original furniture such as the desk where Austen àwrote some of her works.

Edward, the writer’s brother had become rich and while Austen frequented wealthy circles, she was not from a wealthy family. The brother lived nearby and visiting him meant frequenting a wealthy and fashionable environment. His brother’s house still stands today and is called Chawton House, a 16th century Tudor-style house.

The house now houses in its library a collection of books written by women if you go just outside the house of St Nicholas church you will see the graves of Austen’s mother and sister. If you want to continue your Jane Austen tour in Hampshire you can take the scenic railway called Watercress Line to Aston where the Jane Austen festival is held every June. Aston was where Austen used to shop regularly.

The Vyne is a house definitely worth visiting, it is  located near Basingstoke and was a house from the Tudor times, where Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon and many others also stayed. Jane Austen was a friend of the family who lived here at the time and therefore she used to come often and participate in the dances and other social gatherings.

Jane had to leave her beloved cottage when her health deteriorated and so she went to live in Winchester to be near her doctors. That is why her grave is in Winchester Cathedral. Originally her grave did not say she was a writer because all of her books were published anonymously when she was alive

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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Architecture

The strange Egyptian house in Penzance in Cornwall

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In all parts of the world there are always weird things to see and Cornwall is certainly no exception. If you go to Penzance, try to pass by the strange Egyptian house. It was built on Chapel Street by Plymouth architect John Foulston around 1835. At this time everything Egyptian was in fashion. In London at Piccadilly they had built the Egyptian Hall at the same time and the province tried to adapt to trends.

Photo: Jhsteel / CC BY-SA

It was a Plymouth bookseller who wanted this house, his name was John Lavin and he had a passion for maps and travel guides but he also traded minerals. He had then bought two properties here, which were in fact two cottages but he wanted to stand out so he had the two buildings join together with a single facade.

In addition to transforming the architecture of the two buildings, he also built a small mineral museum inside. The house still exists now and houses three apartments, it is a listed building. The interesting thing is that it is a precursor of the Art Deco that conquered the world a century later.

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History

There is a real Roman temple in Windsor Park

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About 8 km south of Windsor Castle, still within the large park is Virginia Water, a very beautiful place famous for its lake and waterfall. However, not everyone knows that there is a Roman temple here. The lake is surrounded by a path leading east to Blacknest Gate, which extends along the water’s edge on the south side of the lake where there are several woods. About a mile east of the gate, the avenue leads into a grassy clearing overlooking the water, leading to the ruins of the Temple of Augustus brought from Leptis Magna to what would now be Libya in 1818, restored and erected by Sir Jeffry Wyatville 1824-6.

The temple was seen  by a guy called Warrington who heard that the Earl of Elgin had brought half the Parthenon to Britain, and thought of doing the same with this temple hoping to become a hero in his home country. He had problems with the locals, who wanted to keep the temple, not for artistic or historical interest, but to reuse the marble. So poor Warrington couldn’t get the whole temple. The temple is not only found here, In 1600 600 columns of Leptis were taken by Louis XIV for his palaces in Versailles and Paris.

In ancient times, the city of Leptis reached its greatest importance under the emperor Septimius Severus about 200 years after Christ. At that time it was the third most important city in Africa, after Carthage and Alexandria. The emperor had a new and magnificent forum built and enlarged the quays, as well as giving the city a huge basilica full of ornate carved columns. Thereafter, a dramatic decline began. A large tsunami in 365 devastated Leptis along with much of the Mediterranean coast. This was followed by the invasion of the Vandals in the fifth century and the arrival of Muslim armies in the seventh century which eventually left the city in ruins. Since its abandonment, Leptis had been used as a quarry by the local population and a place looted by the Europeans.

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History

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – a pub with a literary history

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Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a Grade 11 listed building at 145 Fleet Street, City of London. There has been a public house at this location since 1538, when Henry V111 was the monarch.  It was called the Horn and like many city pubs burnt down in the Great Fire of London 1666,  but was swiftly rebuilt the following year. The pub is a short walk (about 700 yards) away from both St Pauls Cathedral and Blackfriars tube station. 
 
Photo: © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
 
There is a single narrow entrance to a building that is deceptively small as it extends up to four storeys. The lack of natural light is evocative of its past history, as a cosy meeting place for famous literary figures.  Charles Dickens liked to sit at a table right of the fireplace on the ground floor, opposite to the bar. The pub is thought to have been referred to in “A Tale of Two Cities” as a dining place for Charles Darnay.   Robert Lewis Stevenson, Antony Trollope, and P. G Wodehouse all referred to the pub by name.  In “The Dynamiter”  Stevenson writes that ‘a select society at the Cheshire Cheese engaged my evenings”.  In Anthony Trollope’s novel “Ralph the Heir”,  one of the characters, Ontario Moggs, is described as speaking “with vigour at the debating club at the Cheshire Cheese in support of unions and the rights of man…”
P G Wodehouse on at least one occasion preferred to dine there, rather than at his club The Garrick. Agatha Christie wrote that her fictional detective Poirot dined with a new client at the Cheshire Cheese in her 1924 story, “The Million Dollar Bank Robbery” adding a description of “the excellent steak and kidney pudding of the establishment.” Oysters and Larks were also on the menu served up in pies. 
 
The Rhymers Club was a group of London-based poets, founded in 1890 by W. B. Yeats and Ernest Rhys. They met as a dining club at the Cheshire Cheese, producing anthologies of poetry in 1892 and 1894.
The founding meeting of the Medical Journalists Association took place at the Cheshire Cheese on 1 February 1967. At that time, doctors who wrote articles under their own name could be reported to the General Medical Council. From an initial membership of 48, the MJA now represents around 500 journalists, broadcasters and editors.
 
Last by not least, the pub had a famous parrot, whose death on October 30th 1926 was marked by worldwide obituaries.  Polly, a grey parrot, of unknown gender, passed out on Armistice night in 1918, exhausted from imitating the popping of champagne corks.  The bird was in the habit of addressing customers as “Rats” and placed orders with instructions to “Hurry Up!” Deservedly Polly holds pride of place as a Stuffed Parrot in the Bar. 

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