Friends of Reading Abbey - a Look Back at Past Events


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2017


Friends of Reading Abbey outing to Steventon and Chawton, July 4th

Our Jane Austen inspired trip began at St Nicholas' Church, Steventon where her father and brother were rectors. Jane was born in Steventon and worshipped at this church for the first 25 years of her life. Our group enjoyed a talk by Canon Michael Kenning the retired Rector of Steventon on the history of this lovely Norman church and its Austen connections.

Then to the village of Chawton, for coffee at Cassandraís Cup sitting under a ceiling decorated with tea cups. After lunch we toured the cottage where Jane settled in 1809 with her mother, sister and Martha Lloyd. Here Jane began the most prolific period of her writing career. There is an extensive collection of family mementoes and documentary material to see, including copies of letters written by Jane and also, her writing desk. A very pretty garden surrounds the house, stocked with many old varieties of flowers and herbs.

Our next stop was Chawton House, an Elizabethan Manor inherited by Edward Austen. The House had fallen into extreme disrepair towards the end of the twentieth century, but was rescued and restored by the American entrepreneur and philanthropist Sandy Lerner. We were given an enjoyable and informative guided tour of the property, which is now The Centre for the Study of Early Women's Writing, 1600-1830. Then, a chance to discuss the day so far over tea and cake served at the house.

Lastly to Chawton church dating back to at least 1270. It contains memorials relating to the Knight family, the forbears and descendants of Jane Austenís brother Edward, most noticeable being the magnificent marble semi-recumbent effigy to Sir Richard Knight dating from 1679. Jane Austenís mother and sister are buried in the churchyard.

Here are a few photos to illustrate our sunny day in Jane Austenís beautiful Hampshire.


1. Introductory talk in St Nicholas' church, Steventon

2. The ceiling in the Cassandra's Cup cafe in Chawton - Cassandra was the name of both Jane Austen's mother and sister

3. The Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton

4. Friends assemble for the visit to the Jane Austen's House Museum

5. Trying out some fitting headgear in the Museum!

6. Notice in the Museum

7. Jane Austen's House Museum: the table-top in this photo is the one on which Jane Austen wrote much of her work.

8. View of the Museum garden

9. Chawton House viewed from the drive

10. The tomb of Sir Richard Knight in St Nicholas' church, Chawton



Links to websites for the places visited during the outing:

    St Nicholas' Steventon

    Jane Austen's House Museum, Chawton

    Chawton House

    St Nicholas' Chawton


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Reading Waterfest

The three combined Friends Groups, of Reading Abbey, Reading Museum and Caversham Court Gardens, joined with Reading Museum at the Waterfest on 10 June 2017. On offer were free tours of the Abbey Quarter; tile painting and panoramic views of the ruins from the top of the scaffolding Ė achieved via virtual reality headsets! Here are a few photos to give a flavour of the day including some of the boats and their colourful owners, on the river. The photos were kindly supplied by Dianne Sykes.


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2016

Friends of Reading Abbey outing to Lewes

On July 6th about 30 Friends enjoyed a very pleasant outing to a number of historic sites around Lewes in Sussex. First was a visit to the Anne of Cleves House museum in Southover, so-called because the house was given to Anne of Cleves as part of the divorce settlement between her and Henry VIII. It is now a museum of Tudor, Elizabethan and later artifacts from the local area. This was followed by a tour of Lewes Priory, the ruins of the first Cluniac house in England, and the Gundrada Chapel in the nearby church of St John the Baptist, where the founders of Lewes Priory, William de Warenne and his wife Gundrada, are interred. On the way home, Friends were able to view the notable medieval wall paintings in the church of St John the Baptist in Clayton.
The four photographs below are part of a set kindly provided by Chris Widdows. All of Chris' photographs can be viewed by clicking here.

1. Anne of Cleves House

2. Lewes Priory

3. Gundrada Chapel in St John the Baptist church, Southover, Lewes

4. St John the Baptist church, Clayton



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Friends' Summer Party

The Friends' Summer Party on Sunday 19 June, in the Forbury Gardens, went well. The rain held off, and the Party attracted a good number of people. The guided tours of the Abbey Quarter proved popular, as did the impromptu performance of scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Progress Theatre Company: this is their outdoor production this July, in Caversham Court Gardens.

The workshops and community singing of Sumer is Icumen in, led by David Owen Norris, attracted around 100 singers. We sang the round twice to an attentive audience.

These photos of the event were kindly provided by David Shephard:



A set of photos of the Summer Party kindly supplied by Chris Widdows can be viewed by clicking here


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2015

Friends enjoyed a memorable outing to Oxford on 8th July 2015. An article about it is available here

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2014



Abbey Ruins tours during 2014


Photographs from the 2014 Waterfest tours of the Ruins and from the Summer Party in Caversham Court Gardens can be seen here.
Thank you to Dave Shephard for the photography work.

An account of the tours held on the 9th May 2014 appears on the 'getreading' website, link
here.
  
Friends assist Museum staff at Waterfest 2014.