Jane Austen's Hampshire

Steventon Church

The 12th century Steventon Church where Jane worshipped, stands almost unchanged from those days. Here there are memorial tablets to James Austen, Jane's eldest brother, who took over the parish from her father, his two wives and some of his relations. Their graves are in the churchyard.

There is also a bronze plaque dedicated to Jane Austen. Another plaque recognises the generous support from members of the Jane Austen Society of North America who paid for the refurbishment of the church bells in January 1995.

As a daughter of the Rector, Jane Austen would have had easy access to the parish registers, hence her mischievous completion of the specimen marriage entry in the front of the register for 1755-1812 (below and signature right). Hampshire Record Office ref 1M82/PR3

Parish Register extract

Hampshire Record Office holds an interesting letter (below) from James Austen to his wife Mary, 29 Oct 1819, discussing his wish "whenever I die to be buried in the plainest possible way consistent with decency in the Church yard at Steventon."

Extract of document

Upon the death of James Austen, his younger brother, Henry Thomas Austen (1771-1850), became rector of Steventon, until his nephew, William Knight, took over in 1822. Henry was also appointed perpetual curate of Bentley, near Alton, in 1824 and lived there until his retirement in 1839.

Henry had become a clergyman in 1816 after following careers in both the militia and banking. In this letter to Bishop Brownlow North, he explains the causes which made him a candidate for holy orders "at a more advanced stage of life than is for the most part usual".

Extract of document

 

Steventon Church




Extract of Parish Register showing Jane's signature
Jane's signature