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Written by JulieW
(12/2/2006 10:32 a.m.)
Ibthorpe house was where Jane wrote letter 28 while she was staying with Martha, Martha's mother and the wonderfully comic( to Jane at least!) Mrs Stent.
This summer on the ROP 2006 Tour of England we were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the house, given by its present and very gracious owners Mr and Mrs Robert ffrench-Blake.
We spent a lovely day there, also having fun eating lunch in the garden and playing with the family's dogs and cat! I think a lot of people were missing their pets at this stage in the holiday!
Anyhoo......I thought you would like to see some of the photographs we took of Ibthorpe House this August.
Here is the veiw of Ibthorpe House from the road:
as you can see, it is a beautifuly proportioned 17th century brick built house,with a very friendly atmosphere.
This is the current sitting room, which was IIRC, the dining room when JA was in residence.
This is now "knocked through" into the sitting room but was a separate small study in JA's time.
This is now the dining room but was the sitting room when JA used to visit.
Another view of the dining room...
And this is a view of the bedroom JA used to use. It is the top right bedroom on the first floor is you look at the picture of the house from the road.
Mrs ffrench-Blacke , a true Janeite, hold the theroy that JA liked being at Ibthorpe for she and Martha were such "desperate walkers" that they preferred the coutnryside around Ibthorpe to Steventon, as it provided better walks for them. Also she pointed out to us that the Steventon Rectory must have been an incredibly noisy place with boarders, all the Austen family et al. Ibthoroe might have been a place where JA could think and write in comparitive peace.
We all enjoyed walking up and dowe the stairs holding on to the same bannister that Jane Autsen used.....and I do have to say it was a fabulous day, for Ibthorpe was such an intimate family home. This restored the balance for us, in a way. We had visited some of the grandest places in England -Chatsworth,Stoneleigh, and the Vyne - on the trip .
Jane Austen's House in Chawton and Ibthorpe were smaller scale houses where she and her friends grew up: they provided a lovely "foil" to the larger ones!
P.S. Lovers of the Bloomsbury Set nmght be interestred to know that Dora Ccarrington lived at Ibthorpe and her small "cottage" in the garden where she painted is still there. Nigel Nicholson was a frequent visitor to Ibthorpe and once told Mrs ffrench -Blake of a terryfying interview he underwent there when he was interrogated by Vita Sackville West and Virginia Woolf as to exactly " what he wanted to be when he grew up"!.Rather him than me,I say.
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