Last night and day at Chawton – we have all gone slightly mad

It is my final day at Chawton House Library, which means I have come to the end of my 2 month research adventure. But never fear, there will be plenty more adventures to be had in the coming months and I will be using this blog to discuss my work. This has been one of the most productive, exhilarating and exciting times since completing my PhD last year and I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to visit amazing places and carry out new research.

Chawton House has been particularly special, since the visit fellows all bonded together. I am the token musician among three literary scholars, but it is amazing how well our research interests cross over. Education and social expectations of the women we were exploring is a common theme and we were able to have so many discussions about different aspects of our work that we wouldn’t normally have if we were among our subject specific colleagues.

So for our final night, we decided to celebrate – regency style! Chawton has a final collection of costumes (usually used for school visits) but we dressed in regency finery ate wonderful cucumber sandwiches, scones and cake and drank tea. After filling our bellies, it was onto a demonstration of our accomplishments. A sermon from the Rev. Dr Fordyce taught all us young ladies to be virtuous and delicate in our nature, which was followed by some poetry by Rochester, that told us precisely the opposite! Finally, Emma and I demonstrated out ‘ornamental’ accomplishments in singing. I would like to think that our variety show emulated a typical Georgian evening (though I doubt their was as much rolling around laughter!)

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I have had a truly amazing experience at Chawton and I am a little sad to have to leave the amazing setting as well as the wonderful collection of books. But, I now need to turn all this research into something to share and with so many ideas, I don’t think it will be too long before I find an excuse to return.


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