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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Block 35: English Ivy for the Littleworths

Block 35: English Ivy by Bettina Havig for the Littleworths

The Austens were gentry by grace of inheritance and through George Austen's position as Church of England clergy. In the hierarchy of Jane Austen's England they mixed with both their betters and their servants.

The Littleworth family were close-by neighbors in Jane's childhood. John and Anne Littleworth worked at the Parsonage---John with the Austen's coach and horses, Nanny as the family cook. As servants they were never social equals, but the Austens' and the Littleworths' lives were socially interwoven. (Littleworth is another perfect Dickensian name, reflecting their status if not their character.)

William Redmore Bigg was a "genre painter"
 who often depicted "cottagers," people of the Littleworths' class.

Block 35: English Ivy by Becky Brown
(I think she is running out of the larger prints but making do nicely.)

Note triangles pieced in to make a larger piece.

High Life Below Stairs, John Collett, 1763
When young Jane had her hair dressed before a ball 
Nanny Littleworth often did the styling.

"Cottagers" or "cotters," were people who lived in the village's housing tied to the manor. They worked in agricultural production or as servants to Steventon's higher classes. In Jane's childhood her father's relatives the Knights owned the manor, the farm land and the buildings in the village. The system obligated them to house the cottagers, employ them and to provide for the unemployable.

Bigg's painting of the Lady of the Manor and daughters assisting
a cottager in distress is in the collection of
the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Lady is accompanied
by her handsomely liveried black servant. Who owns the dog is not clear.

As Church of England clergy the Reverend Austen and his family were also under the same obligation.

English Ivy by Georgann Eglinski

Like her siblings Jane was nursed by her mother for the first few months and then boarded at a cottage with a neighboring family until she was toilet trained and ambulatory. Most Austen scholars believe the elder Littleworths provided that care. Jane was an intimate in their lives. She served as godmother to Nanny's eldest child born in 1789 and was a witness to an older family member's marriage.

Here Bigg idealizes the cottagers on their way to church. 
Apparently the dog must remain at home.

The cottagers were the majority of the church-goers in the small villages and they paid the taxes that supported the parson and his family.

Today Steventon has about 250 residents.

 In his 1871 book Jane's nephew James Edward Austen Leigh described the village of his memory:
"Steventon is a small rural village upon the chalk hills of north Hants [Hampshire], situated in a winding valley....The house itself stood in a shallow valley, surrounded by sloping meadows, well sprinkled with elm trees, at the end of a small village of cottages...."
The valley flooded in 1820, causing enough damage that the Austens' parsonage was torn down and the cottages were moved to higher ground.

A contemporary English cottage, either restored or reconstructed

The thatch-roofed cottages were built of white-washed cob, which is a mixture of clay and straw, like the American adobe. It really wouldn't do to have English ivy growing on those walls (pretty as it is--- the walls would crumble) but we can recall English country life and its hierarchy with English Ivy, a pattern given the name by the Kansas City Star in 1931.

BlockBase #1330

Cutting a 12" Block
A - Cut 1 square 6-7/8" x 6-7/8" Cut into 2 triangles with a diagonal line.

You need two of the largest triangles.

B - Cut 11 squares 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" (5 leaf color, 6 background.) Cut each into 2 triangles with a diagonal line.

You need 21 triangles, 10 leaf color, 11  background.
C - Cut a rectangle 2" x 9-1/4".

D - Cut 1 square 5-7/8" x 5-7/8". Cut into 2 triangles with a diagonal line.

You need 2 triangles, which you'll trim later..

E - Cut 1 square 4-1/2" x 4-1/2".

F - Cut 1 square 4-7/8". Cut into 2 triangles with a diagonal line.

You need 2 triangles.


English Ivy by Becky Brown

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Block 34: Queen Charlotte’s Crown for the Princess of Wales

Block 34: Queen Charlotte’s Crown by Georgann Eglinski for the Princess of Wales

Charlotte Augusta, Princess of Wales (1796 –1817)

Charlotte Augusta was born nine months after the ill-fated honeymoon of her parents Prince George (see block 27) and Princess Caroline (block 30).

Princess Charlotte in 1806

In Jane Austen’s England the Princess of Wales was second in line to the throne after her father who became King George IV. The predominant emotional climate in  Charlotte's childhood was her self-absorbed parents’ mutual contempt, so she led a lonely life.

Illustration for Northanger Abbey by Charles E. Brock

When the Princess was about 16 her Uncle, the Duke of York, recommended she read Sense & Sensibility. Charlotte wrote a friend she had heard much about the novel and after she read it identified with Marianne’s sensibility and ‘imprudence.”

‘Sence and Sencibility’ I have just finished reading; it certainly is interesting, & you feel quite one of the company. I think Maryanne & me are very like in disposition, that certainly I am not so good, the same imprudence, &c, however remain very like. I must say it interested me much.’ Letter from Princess Charlotte January, 1812.

 Queen Charlotte’s Crown by Becky Brown

As heir to the British throne the Princess found an acceptable mate in German royalty.

She married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in May, 1816, an event celebrated with a "furniture panel" below, perhaps meant for a chair, a pillow or a quilt.

The brown frame reads:"Princess Charlotte of Wales Married to Leopold Prince of Saxe-Cobourg May 2, 1816"

Patchwork sold at Christies framing the Princess Charlotte panel

Another English frame quilt with the royal wedding panel.
Collection of the New England Quilt Museum
See the quilt here:

During the last year of Jane Austen’s life, England looked forward to the birth of a royal baby, expected in the fall of 1817. Jane Austen did not survive to hear the November news that Charlotte delivered a large boy, sadly stillborn.

Worse news: the Princess began to hemorrhage and died overnight. England was again without a reliable line of succession to the rather shaky throne. Mourning for the 21-year-old princess included the above hexagon coverlet in the collection of the New England Quilt Museum with fabric printed,
“This piece of Patchwork was finished two days previous to the Death of H.R.H. the Princess Charlotte…”
Had Charlotte survived her father she'd have become Queen Charlotte when he died in 1830.

 Queen Charlotte’s Crown by Becky Brown

The quilt pattern Queen Charlotte's Crown was given the name by Ruth Finley in her 1929 book. The block, which shows a crown and one reflected below it, can symbolize the "might-have-been" Charlottian Era we'd look back upon, rather than the Victorian Era led by Charlotte's cousin Alexandrina Victoria, who was born about 18 months after Charlotte’s death.

BlockBase  #4134

Cutting a 12" Finished Block
A - Cut 2 squares 2-7/8".

B - Cut 1 square 6". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 cuts.

You need 4 triangles.

C - Cut 3 squares 5-5/8".

Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 6 triangles.

D - Cut 4 squares 3-1/4”.

Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 8 of the smallest triangles.

E – Cut 2 rectangles 8” x 2-1/4”. You can trim the ends at 45-degree angles now or wait to trim them until you have stitched them to piece C.


 Queen Charlotte’s Crown by Bettina Havig

Soon after the Princess’s death her letters were published in 1822. You can read Royal correspondence or, Letters between her late Royal Highness…and her Royal Mother at Google Books:

A more comprehensive edition edited by Arthur Aspinall was published in 1949, Letters of the Princess Charlotte, 1811-1817

Mourning jewelry for the Princess featuring an eye portrait
 (quite the rage at the time) and some of her hair.

See more Princess Charlotte mourning jewelry at the royal blog:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Block 33: Corn and Beans for the Digweed Family

Block #33 Corn & Beans by Becky Brown for the Digweed Neighbors

While Jane was growing up in Steventon, the Austen family shared pasture for sheep with the Digweed family headed by Hugh and Ruth Digweed. Digweed seems too perfect a name for a farm family, worthy of Charles Dickens, but that was indeed their name. This generation of Digweeds commenced renting "The Manor Farm" from the wealthy Knight family in 1758, paying £624 a year for Steventon Manor and its 900-acre farm.

Steventon Manor House drawn from memory
 as it was when the Austens and Digweeds were 
growing up in the 1760-1800 period.

Their five boys were Austen playmates. Jane's Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot was of the opinion that one of the young Digweeds and Jane had a romance in 1800, which the Austen parents squelched by abruptly moving to Bath (She was probably quite wrong.) Jane did her part in trying to link the families by needling Cassandra about James Digweed's affection for the elder sister.

Corn and Beans by Bettina Havig

The second son Harry continued his association with the Austens by renting farmland from Edward Austen Knight in Chawton where Jane lived at the end of her life. Dierdre LeFaye speculates that the Digweeds practiced "modern farming" there by rotating crops. Harry Digweed raised corn and oats, peas and turnips at Chawton, but lest we think of him feeding his cattle ears of corn, we have to realize that in England "corn" meant wheat and cereal grains rather than the maize of the Americas.

English "Corn Dollies" are not made of what an American would call corn.
 In this case corn means wheat.

Corn & Beans by Becky Brown 

Emma and "her" cow by C.W. Brock

Harry Digweed seems a level-headed farmer much like the fictional Robert Martin in Emma.  Emma foolishly believes Martin to be beneath her protege Harriet. But the real life Harry Digweed was from a wealthy family and would have made a suitable spouse for either of the Austen girls had there actually been any attraction between the childhood playmates. He married an old Austen friend, Jane Terry, one of the "noisy Terry" family of Dummer House. 

Jane Austen seemed fond of Mrs. Harry Digweed but thought her conversation a bit silly. "What she meant, poor woman, who shall say?" Jane Terry Digweed was unenthusiastic about the novel Emma, finding it dull (perhaps a little too close to home) and was quoted as saying, "if she had not known the Author, [she] could hardly have got through it."

Steventon Manor with many additions survived into the last part of the 20th century. George Austen's rich relatives, the Knights, owned both the Manor House and the less grand Steventon Rectory at the bottom of the lane where the Austens lived.

James Gillray, Fat Cattle

Corn and Beans by Dustin Cecil

Corn and Beans, given the name by Ruth Finley in her 1929 quilt book, can recall Jane's lifelong neighbors (and also remind us that "maize" meant corn in Jane Austen's England.)

Finley listed other rural pattern names:

Ducks and Ducklings or Hen and Chickens.

Corn and Beans is #1859a or 1859b in BlockBase

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 8 squares 3-1/4” (6 light, 2 dark). Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 16 of the smaller half-square triangles.

B– Cut 4 rectangles 5-1/4” x 2-7/8".

C - Cut 1 square 2-7/8”.

D - Cut 2 squares 5-5/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 4 of the larger half-square triangles.


Corn & Beans by Georgann Eglinski

Steventon Manor received a good deal of damage during World War II (not from bombs but from hard use, neglect and vandalism.) The building was pulled down in 1970.