36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Block 17: Waterwheel for Uncle James Leigh-Perrot

Block 17 Waterwheel for Uncle James Leigh-Perrot
by Becky Brown

James Leigh-Perrot (1735-1817)

Jane Austen's uncle was her mother's brother, born James Leigh. At 21 he added great-uncle Perrot’s
 name in order to inherit his estate.

The resort of Bath today.
Jane Austen visited several times and lived here
after her parents retired to the fashionable spa.

Uncle James and wife Jane Leigh-Perrot often visited Bath in hopes the waters would cure his gout, a common diagnosis in Jane Austen’s England.

The Leigh-Perrots lived at #1 The Paragon.
The Austens visited them here.

Waterwheel by Georgann Eglinski

Cause & Effect
Red wine + rich diet = Gout

Gout is a specific type of arthritis caused by an excess of uric acid, which crystallizes and temporarily settles in the joints (often the big toe) causing much pain. Today about 6% of American men and 2% of women are afflicted by gout. Two hundred years ago it would seem that every gentleman over the age of forty complained of the gout.

By Rowlandson from the Comforts of Bath series.

Treatment included  temporary abstinence from rich food and alcohol and a trip to a seaside or hot springs resort. In 1811 Admiral George Berkeley hoped “a considerable deal of fresh sea air, bathing and more exercise [would] get rid of my rheumatic complaints, which really have almost crippled me.” The thermal springs at Bath were considered quite beneficial, offering relief in soaking the foot and drinking the mineral waters.

Henry Bunbury, Origin of the Gout

The gout epidemic in Georgian England was actually related to status rather than science. A diagnosis of gout had more cachet than rheumatism or similar arthritic diseases. Gout is still considered diet-related, triggered by red wine and high protein, red-meat diets, fare the lower classes did not enjoy. Gout seemed to be the inevitable result of a gentleman’s life well-lived.

French cartoon characterizing the English as sots.

Another reason for over diagnosis is that a painful, swollen foot is a symptom of worse diseases such as diabetes, liver, heart and kidney failure. The doctors treating King George IV and politicians William Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox may have described the problem as gout, but the men likely died of organ failure after years of alcohol abuse.

Waterwheel by Becky Brown

Waterwheel  can remind us of the pumps, fountains and tubs at Bath. The pattern was published in the Farm Journal in the mid-20th-century.

BlockBase #1763d
If you're looking for it by number don't forget the d.

Cutting a 12” Block

A – Cut 16 squares 2-1/2”

B - Cut 4 squares 4-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 8 triangles.

C – Cut 1 square 4-1/2”.


Water Wheel by Bettina Havig

Links to more information. 
See the book Gout: The Patrician Malady by Dr. Roy Porter & G.S. Rousseau
And click here to read about Bath:

UPDATE: Waterwheel in silk by Dustin Cecil

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Block 16: Lucky Pieces for Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot

Block 16 Lucky Pieces by Bettina Havig for 
Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot

Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot (1744-1836)

Jane Cholmeley was born in Barbados, a British colony in the West Indies (the Caribbean). She arrived in England when she was six and later married James Leigh-Perrot, well-to-do brother of Jane Austen’s mother.  

Jane Leigh-Perrot at the time of her marriage in 1764

Jane and Cassandra Austen were fond of their aunt but she was a haughty and rather stingy woman who used her wealth to manipulate her relatives with promises---often broken---of gifts, loans and inheritances. With no children, the Leigh-Perrots promised to make sister Cassandra’s family their heirs.

The Austen-Leighs spent their winters at the Paragon in Bath.

Lucky Pieces by Becky Brown

Aunt Jane was a fortunate and fashionable woman who took her nieces shopping with her when they visited Bath.
Silhouette of Jane Austen-Leigh

In 1799, 55-year-old Aunt Jane was arrested in Bath for theft while shopping. She'd purchased lace and was accused of leaving the shop with an additional unpaid-for card of lace in her reticule (handbag). Lace was expensive and the purloined piece was said to be worth £1 (about $100 today).

Fashion plate from 1800
of a woman with a reticule
and expensive lace trim.

In Jane Austen’s England, the penalty for a theft even half that value was cruel and unreasonable. If convicted, Mrs. Leigh-Perrot faced the death penalty. Another option: a sentence of transportation to the penal colony of Botany Bay (Australia) and exile for 14 years. She was jailed without bail for seven months awaiting trial.

The thought of Aunt Jane joining the typical transported prisoners
horrified her family.

Aunt Jane’s luck persisted. During her trial the shopkeeper and two assistants testified against her, but her lawyer caught the assistant in a lie. Others testified they’d been victims of the same scam---an unwarranted accusation of shoplifting with planted evidence followed by extortion to avoid incarceration and trial.

Lucky Pieces by Becky Brown

Jane Leigh-Perrot was found not guilty. Some family members believed she got away with shoplifting, a crime she may have often committed. Others believed her story that she'd been framed with an eye to extortion: 
"That these wretches had marked me for somebody timid enough to be Scared and Rich enough to pay handsomely rather than go through the terrible Proceedings of a public Trial nobody doubts."
(From a letter by Jane Leigh Perrot quoted in  Deirdre Le Faye's Jane Austen: A Family Record.)
Click here to see a preview of the book:

Block Base #3752b

Lucky Pieces was given the name by the syndicated newspaper column signed Nancy Page in the 1930s. The block is perfect for someone as fortunate as Aunt Jane, but it’s a rather complicated pattern in cutting the parallelograms and sewing the Y-seams, so I suggest you make a variation.  

BlockBase # 1140a.

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 12 squares 3-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 24 triangles.

B– Cut 1 square 7-1/4”. Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.

You need 4 triangles.


Rajah Quilt, detail, collection of the 
National Gallery of Australia

Quilters are most familiar with the sentence of transportation to a penal colony through the 1841 Rajah Quilt, made by transported women in Australia.

See more of the quilt here:
Lucky Pieces by Georgann Eglinski

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Block 15: King’s Crown for the Regent

Block 15: King’s Crown  for the Regent by Becky Brown

King George IV (1762-1830)

Jane Austen’s England was dominated by the fashions of the Regency court. The Regency, in loose terms, means the years after 1788 when Prince George’s father King George III was periodically incapacitated by disease but still ruler. Sticklers define the Regency era as 1811-1820 when the Prince actually had legal power to reign in the King’s stead. The old King died three years after Jane.

George III’s detested son ruled the ton, set society’s parameters and depleted the national treasury through most of Jane’s life time. Jane, like most proper Britons, was disgusted by the Prince’s reputation.

The Royal Pavilion, built between 1787 and 1823 at the seaside resort of
Brighton, is one of the Prince's ostentatious accomplishments.

Dorothea Jordan, 1801 by
John Russell

During the Regency, high society’s standards were remarkably low with George and his brothers openly keeping mistresses such as the actress Mrs. Jordan. With future King William IV, Mrs. Jordan had ten illegitimate children. Distaste for the actress's morals, however, did not keep Jane from enjoying Mrs. Jordan’s performance in the play Decadence.

Harriet Wilson was a Regency courtesan famous,
 if not for her charms, for her tell-all autobiography.

 Jane wrote Cassandra she'd had a good view of "an Adulteress" at a ball in 1801, perhaps Miss Wilson.

The later Victorians looked back on the Regency era
as a "vortex of dissipation," a phrase Jane's niece Anna tried out
in a novel, one Jane suggested deleting.

King’s Crown by Dustin Cecil

Hugh Bonneville playing George IV
in full makeup.
Could the arsenic in the makeup
Have contributed to the royal family's illnesses?

King's Crown by Bettina Havig
Bettina added a Broderie Perse appliqued flower to the center.

The Prince may have been a laughingstock for his foppish and fat appearance, but he had the good taste to appreciate Jane’s fiction, and was reported to keep a set of her novels at each of his houses.
At royal request, she reluctantly dedicated Emma to him.

King’s Crown by Becky Brown

King's Crown, given that name in the 1930s by the syndicated Nancy Page quilt column, can recall the precarious reputation of the monarchy during Jane's lifetime.

BlockBase #2054a

Cutting a 12” Block

A– Cut 4 squares 2-1/2”

B - Cut 8 light squares and 4 background squares 2-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

  You need 16 light triangles and 8 background.

C – Cut 1 square 5-1/4”. Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.

 You need 4 triangles.

D - Cut 2 squares 4-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 4 triangles.

E- Cut 1 square 6-1/8”.

Mrs Jordan and the Duke of York with a few of their many children.