Winchester: A stop on the Jane Austen Tour
On Wednesday I took the train from Clapham Junction to Winchester to meet Laurel Ann Nattress (editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It ) and her Jane Austen Tour Group. Luckily, I didn't have to ride in a locomotive like the one below because it would have taken me a lot longer than the one hour forty-five minutes it took for me to get to Winchester where I was supposed to meet them. Though it might have been fun to chug along in the days when this steam-operated train (below) ran from London to Southampton, it would have taken me quite a lot longer! Built in 1894 and withdrawn 1949 courtesy Ben Brooksbank As I passed through a quintessentially English scene with its gentle hills and its quiet "verdure" (Winchester is at the edge of the South Downs), I was surprised to see far more cows than sheep. The black and white cows reminded me of Switzerland, but only briefly. The small fields enclosed by hedgerows are too distinctive. It occurred to me then that, although we think of hedgerows as very much part of the English landscape, that wasn't necessarily the case when Jane Austen was travelling that way. The majority of English hedges were set up during the course of Austen's lifetime, as enclosure laws changed the look of the landscape and the spaces of open hunting grounds and public grazing land were cut up and clearly defined as private property. Perhaps because it's autumn, when many of the golden field...