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|Letter 18: Dean Gate Inn
Written by JulieW
(11/27/2006 6:42 a.m.)
Charles leaves us to-night. The "Tamar" is in the Downs, and Mr. Daysh advises him to join her there directly, as there is no chance of her going to the westward. Charles does not approve of this at all, and will not be much grieved if he should be too late for her before she sails, as he may then hope to get into a better station. He attempted to go to town last night, and got as far on his road thither as Dean Gate; but both the coaches were full, and we had the pleasure of seeing him back again.
Below is a drawing from Contance Hill's Book Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends of the Dean Gate Inn.
It is still there.
But in Jane Austen's era it ws much more than jsut a wayside inn.
At the time Charles Austen was trekking to and fro, it was a coaching inn near Steventon on what is now the B3400 road, which is the road from Basingstoke to Andover.Coaches from Bath , London and Exeter all stopped at the inn, opening up Steventon to the outside world.
Mail and stage coaches stopped there, and it was a recieving house for the local residents mail.
Constance Hill stayed there when researching her book, early in the 20th century, circa 1902,IIRC:
After a short halt we again resumed our journey, and finally, as darkness was closing in, we drew up triumphantly at the solitary inn of Clarken Green. But our triumph was of short duration. Within doors all was confusion - rooms dismantled, packing-cases choking up the entries, and furniture piled up against the walls. The innkeeper and his family, we found, were on the eve of a departure. It was impossible, he said, to receive us, but he offered us the use of a chaise and a fresh horse to take us on to Deane - a place a few miles farther west - where he thought it possible we might find shelter in a small inn. The name struck our ears, for Deane has its associations with the Austen family. There Jane's father and mother spent the first seven years of their married life. By all means let us go to Deane! So bidding farewell to our charioteer, the blacksmith's wife, as she led her sturdy pony into the stable, we drove off cheerily along the [Page 4] darkening roads. Before long a light appeared between the trees, and in a few minutes we were stopping in front of a low, rambling, whitewashed building - the small wayside inn of Deane Gate.
Our troubles were now over, and much we enjoyed our cosy supper, which we ate in a tiny parlour of spotless cleanliness. A chat with our landlady gave us the welcome intelligence that we were within two miles of Steventon. Our small tavern and Gatehouse (as it was formerly) stood, she said, where the lane for Steventon joins the main road to the west. This, no doubt, would give it importance for the Austens and their country neighbours; and we recalled the words of Jane in one of her letters, when speaking of a drive from Basingstoke to Steventon she says: "We left Warren at Dean Gate on our way home." So we fell asleep that night with the happy consciousness that we were really in Austen-land.
We passed it this year on our ROP trip to England: nice to know it's still a living link, isn't it?
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