Jane Austen’s interest in the Navy is shown in two of her
novels – Persuasion and Mansfield Park. Her knowledge about
the everyday life of the Navy was through her two sailor brothers – Francis
and Charles. Both began their careers at the Royal Naval Academy in Portsmouth
at the age of 12, and first went to sea at 15. It was thought desirable for
the boys to go to sea quite young to accustom them to the hard life in front
To learn something of what life was like ‘under sail’
at the time of Jane Austen, the ‘Mrs. Goddard’s School’ children sailed
in Sydney Harbour on the HMAV Bounty, an authentic replica of the
original, assisting the crew in hoisting the sails (and avoiding the many
ropes) and exploring below decks. HMAV Bounty is a fully rigged, 3-mast
tall ship, 42 metres long, and has sailed every ocean of the world, actually
covering many more miles than the original.
Plans for 2002
We are planning three events for 2002: – in June, ‘How
to deal with difficult people – Jane Austen style’ (think of how Elizabeth
Bennet deals with the rude and difficult Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride
and Prejudice), and we will try some fencing, a la Darcy in the BBC
Next – Children’s books: a talk and a workshop; then we
will explore transport in Jane Austen’s time – without cars and bicycles,
trains and planes, they had to use horses and carriages – and we’ll even
try riding side-saddle! (Anyone who knows someone with this skill, I would
love to hear from you!)
Congratulations to Jessie McClelland, who won the colouring competition of
Jane Austen at her writing desk.
This ‘junior’ Jane Austen group continues to meet and
enjoy JA-related activities, under the leadership of Anne Harbers.
The lovely old St James Church at Morpeth in the Hunter
Valley, known to those members who attended a JASA Country Weekend there a
couple of years ago, was the venue for the wedding of the co-founder of the
Mrs Goddard School group, Michelle Morgan, in September, and she invited the
whole Mrs Goddard group to the wedding, to their delight.
In October, the group enjoyed a visit to Vaucluse House to
explore what daily life would have been like for the children of the Wentworth
family in the 1800s, and in December the group will visit the HMAV Bounty on
Sydney Harbour, concentrating on the navy novels of Persuasion and
Mansfield Park, and the life of young sailors at the time of Jane Austen.
Jane Austen’s two sailor brothers both began their careers at the Royal
Naval Academy, Portsmouth at the age of 12 and first went to sea at 15.
We see these experiences as adding considerably to the
children’s concept of the details of living in Jane Austen’s world and
18th/19thC colonial life at
Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta
On 12 July 2000, a group of about 20 young Jane Austen members had a very successful visit
to Elizabeth Farm, colonial home of Elizabeth Macarthur from a period which mirrors
the Jane Austen period.
Dressed in period costume, the children stepped back in time, to experience life of the
period. Firstly they were asked to write their names badges using ink and a feather quill,
followed by a lesson in deportment and correct table manners for the time.
Young Rachel Harbers comes to terms with 18/19th century washing at Elizabeth Farm.
They made gingerbread men in the Farm kitchen, which were then baked in the wood stove.
Time was made for outside games of hoops, and cup and ball.
The staff at Elizabeth Farm were extremely welcoming, and complimentary about our
In November, in the wake of Janes brothers, we hope to look at a naval theme, and
get out on the harbour on the Bounty. We will keep our members informed closer to the
Michelle Morgan, who is also involved in Mrs. Goddard's School, is currently working at
the Smithsonian in the USA for a few months. We look forward to her return, brimful of
Gothic bats at the Museum & a convict life during the regency
This group for younger Janeites has had two great
In November, we took up the Gothic theme from Northanger Abbey and visited the
Bats Exhibition at the Australian Museum. This exhibition gave us information
about Bat images through time, as well as about the types of Bats that live in colonies in
We then walked up to Hyde Park Barracks, where Michele Morgan, (our Historic advisor
and Mrs. Goddards School co-founder), often guides, to look at Sydneys convict
history, which parallels Jane Austens life and times in Regency England.
mistress in the household
The first meeting, 18 September 1999
Mrs. Goddards School, the JASA group for children, enjoyed an excellent first
meeting on the 18th September.
Under the superb leadership of Michelle Morgan, over 20 young members from 4-14 years
spent a couple of hours enjoying outside games and playacting.
They played with cup and ball, and hoops, and inside played games looking at the role
of the master or mistress and servant in the households. We looked at the excerpts from
the movie Sense and Sensibility, and they did some wonderful playacting from the Juvenilia
story The Beautifull Cassandra. We also discussed the five Bennet sisters from Pride and
Prejudice and thought about their different personalities.
We had a period afternoon tea of scones and cucumber sandwiches, and the
very popular jelly set in moulds.
Michelle and I were most impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of our young
members, and look forward to planning future events. A special thank you to the marvellous
mothers who assisted with the afternoon tea, and who gave such great encouragement to the
For our next meeting, we are looking forward to the Bats Exhibition at the
Australian Museum in relation to the gothic setting of Northanger Abbey. We are also to
visit Hyde Park Barracks to look at the Australian way of life at the time Jane Austen was
writing her novels.
Our plans for 2000 include a trip on the Bounty, a visit to Elizabeth Farm where they
are planning a Jane Austen theme for us, as well as some more games and childrens
activities at home. We look forward to seeing our Mrs. Goddards School
group on these occasions.