Some time ago I wrote a post about Chevening Park being considered the model for Rosings Park. Now I came across another JASNA article by Joan Austen-Leigh, claiming that it was Godmersham Park. I absolutely love all the speculations, even though I assume that Austen would be creative enough to build a house in her own imagination rather than copy an existing one. If you ask me Rosings would be more showy.
However, it’s always interesting to see the old houses, since they provide examples of the norm back then. For more information and pictures from Godmersham House see Chris Coyle’s article in Jane Austen’s Regency World.
The Three Sisters is one of the frankest portrayals of “marriage as prostitution” (as Mary Wollstonecraft described marrying for material reasons) within all of Austen’s writings.
Miss Stanhope takes no pains to conceal her motives while negotiating her price:
“You must build me an elegant Greenhouse and stock it with plants. You must let me spend every Winter in Bath, every Spring in Town, Every Summer in taking some Tour, and every Autumn at a Watering Place, and if we are at home the rest of the year (Sophy and I laughed) You must do nothing but give Balls and Masquerades. You must build a room on purpose and a Theatre to act Plays in. The first Play we have shall be Which is the Man, and I will do Lady Bell Bloomer.”
Which is the Man is a play by Hannah Cowley about a fascinating widow who cannot make up her mind among several admirers.
In 1787 Austen’s family considered performing it at Steventon. Although other plays ended up being performed then, Austen was well familiar with Cowley’s plays, and quoted lines from them in her letters.
I came across an old article in Persuasions where John Halperin argues that Chevening Park was a model for Rosings.
Rosings is described in Pride and Prejudice as being “well situated on rising ground” and “a handsome modern building,” which fits the account of Chevening Park given in Paterson’s Roads (1826); in Jane Austen’s day it would have been about 165 years old, but it had just undergone extensive renovation.
This article by the art historian, Alan Saxe-Popette is an obvious spoof, but it’s hilarious!
In private, moreover, Chapman was notoriously prudish. He is reported to have confessed to his great friend Kathleen Tillotson (herself a well-known scholar of English fiction) that “I just don’t want to go to my grave thinking that I’ve looked upon dear Miss Austen’s pubic hair.”