Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.
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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History
A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ August 16, 2019
“Home is the sailor, home from sea”. Well, okay, we haven’t really been sailing—just contemplating the sea from the shore and sometimes thinking of Jane Austen’s sailor brothers. But we are concluding our journey today where Jane concluded her later seashore journeys—at her home in Chawton.
As every Austen fan the world over knows, Chawton Cottage is the home Jane’s brother Edward...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ August 7, 2019
Margate is just five miles north, across the Isle of Thanet, from Ramsgate which we visited last week. Margate was one of the first of England’s fishing villages to develop as a seaside resort. It has maintained its position as a favorite with Londoners for 250 years, primarily because of its easy access. Its level, fine sandy beaches extend for several miles on both sides of the harbor.
We have no evidence of Jane Austen visiting Margate, but her letters make reference to receiving visitors from there, including “Aunt Fielding from Margate.”
Another was Lady Fagg and her 5 daughters and Miss Chapman from Margate, about whom Austen comments, “I never saw so plain a family, five sisters so very plain!” Presumably Margate was not to...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ August 1, 2019
Ramsgate, like last week’s Brighton, is another of the fashionable seaside resorts that was apparently on Jane Austen’s Least Favourite list, in spite of its being one of the great English resorts and naval ports in the nineteenth century. As early as 1788 the noted artist Benjamin West painted his “Bathing Place at Ramsgate.” The bathing machines West depicts poised to go into a rough sea sport ‘Tilts’ or ‘Modesty Hoods’ invented by the Quaker Benjamin Bale. From the lack of bathing attire the hoods were apparently much needed.
Ramsgate has one of the largest marinas on the south coast and is the only one in the UK to have the distinction of being a Royal Harbour. King George IV, formerly the Prince Regent, bestowed this title on Ramsgate in 1821 to repay the town for their outpouring of hospitality to him when he used the harbor for his Royal Yacht Squadron. Of course, considering Austen’s opinion of Prinney, as we discussed last week at Brighton, that might not have been much of a recommendation to...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ July 24, 2019
It’s one of those ironies of history that even though Jane Austen apparently did not like Brighton—she never went there as far as we know, and only bad things happened to her characters who did go there—her writings have enhanced the fame and popularity of this seaside resort.
In 1799 Jane wrote to her sister, “I assure you that I dread the idea of going to Brighton as much as you do, but I am not without hopes that something may happen to prevent it.” (This quotation from the memoir by William Austen Leigh, who suggests Brighton had been recommended to her brother Edward as an alternate to Bath. It should be noted that Deidre Le Faye translates the town as...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ July 11, 2019
Jane Austen’s connection with Worthing was completely unknown until late in the 20th century when Fanny Austen’s diaries came to light and Austen scholar Deidre Le Faye began studying them. Before then, all that was known were the references in Jane’s letters regarding plans to visit Worthing. There was no confirmation, however, that the trip had actually come about, rather, considerable doubt was cast on the likelihood:
24 August 1805 Jane, who was at Godmersham, wrote to Cassandra about their 10-year-old nephew Edward who was ill and not recovering well. It looked unlikely he would be able to return to school in Winchester with his brothers when term started that autumn, “& he will...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ July 5, 2019
Unlike Lyme Regis, for whom its royal ascription was ancient but had simply fallen out of use in Jane Austen’s day, Bognor was just Bognor until King George V went to nearby Aldwick on the advice of his physician in 1929. Queen Mary accompanied him and shopped in Bognor. The monarch found his lodging uncomfortable and did not enjoy his time there. He did, however, recover from his lung infection, and so granted the town permission to append Regis, meaning “of the king,” to its name.