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Written by BarbaraB
(1/31/2010 3:27 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Not attend the funeral?, penned by MarianneR
These last two letters made me curious about the protocol for funerals and burial. After completing this letter last night I began to look through a few of my books to see if I could come up with some answers. I didn't get to do as thorough a job as I would have liked.
The quote that Kathleen gave led me to the same conclusion she came to---that the choice of mourning clothes must have had some differences from region to region. I found a picture with an example of mourning clothes but it is the same one that Myretta posted. It also included a picture of a funeral procession but I don't have the means to scan and post it. It is a pen and ink drawing by Rowlandson if you're interested in trying to do a search for it.
The above pictures and the following quote come from The Illustrated Letters of Jane Austen. They are only random bits and pieces of her letters but the illustrations are helpful in my opinion. So the quote I was talking about is: "The last months of Jane Austen's life were spent in Winchester at 8 College Street, near the Cathedral Close....The visitor can stand here and recall how Cassandra watched in the early morning from the first-floor bow window as Jane's funeral procession made its way up the street."
I have just checked my Jane Austen, A LIfe by Claire Tomalin: In reference to the funeral, "Charles could not come and James felt to unwell to do so....The coffin was closed and placed on a low briar with a pall over it, to be wheeled along College Street, through Kingsgate and the Close, and so into the cathedral, the three brothers and one nephew (James's son) walking beside it as the only mourners. A brick-lined vault was ready in the north aisle of the nave, and the Precentor, Thomas Watkins, read the solemn service. A temporary stone was laid while a final one with its epitaph was prepared." It is so sad reading/quoting all this. When you think of all the friends and family who were dear to her and vice versa and only four mourners were at her funeral, it seems obvious that though the grieving was probably no different than today, attending the funeral/service itself did not carry the same expectation that it carries today.
My guess is that the improvement to transportation changed the custom of attending funerals. As much as people got around during JA's era, the ability to make sudden and immediate movement was not easy and generally impracticable so weddings, funerals and such were looked upon differently it seems. Hope this has been helpful.
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