Deane: Steventon parish was a joint one with Deane. The Austens lived here before moving to a newly renovated rectory at Steventon. Jane’s brother James later lived at Deane when he was his father’s curate and Jane’s letters record many visits to and fro. The church was rebuilt after Jane’s death, and the parsonage no longer exists. Deane is off the B3400, on the opposite side from Steventon.
All Saints’ Church, Deane. It is usually locked.
Ashe: This was the home of Anne Lefroy, an older friend and advisor to Jane. A mother of six, Madam Lefroy, as she was known locally, was beautiful, clever, elegant and enjoyed entertaining. Her nephew, Tom, met Jane at balls at Deane House and Manydown, then at Ashe House, where Jane joked with her sister
Ashe House, the Lefroy home
that she expected to ‘receive an offer’ (of marriage) from Tom. He returned to Ireland unattached and much later became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. Their brief acquaintance was romanticized in the 2007 film Becoming Jane. Mrs Lefroy died in a riding accident when Jane was 29 and living in Bath. The Lefroys’ youngest son Benjamin married Anna Austen, Jane’s niece. Ashe House is privately owned (off B3400).
Manydown: A couple of years after meeting Tom Lefroy, Jane received an offer of marriage from a wealthy local man which she first accepted, then she changed her mind overnight.
Harris Bigg-Wither was heir to Manydown Park and the younger brother of Jane’s friends Elizabeth, Catherine and Alethea. He was several years younger than Jane.
Jane and Cassandra (by now living in Bath with their parents) were staying with the family in December 1802 when Harris proposed. His sisters were delighted when she agreed. Next morning, though, she said she had made a mistake and broke off the engagement. Two years later Harris married someone else. Manydown House was demolished in 1965, but a picture of it is etched into a window in the church of Wootton St Lawrence, where there is also a memorial to Harris Bigg-Wither.
The etching of Manydown Park in a window at Wootton St Lawrence Church
Basingstoke: In addition to attending many private balls and parties, as her letters show, Jane Austen and her friends were regular attenders at Basingstoke Assembly Rooms, where local families paid small subscriptions to go along to dances.
This plaque was erected on the wall of Barclays Bank, Market Place, the site of the old Assembly Rooms.
Ibthorpe: The Austens became friendly with the Lloyds when widowed Mrs Lloyd and her daughters Mary and Martha rented Deane Parsonage from them. In 1792 the Lloyds moved to Ibthorpe several miles away, but kept in touch with Jane and
Cassandra, who frequently stayed in their friends’ new home.
The eldest Austen son, James, married Mary Lloyd two years after his first wife’s death, and so Mary returned to Deane.
When the Austen parents and daughters moved to Bath in 1801, it was agreed that Martha should join their household as Mrs Lloyd had recently died, so Ibthorpe was given up. Martha later lived at Chawton with the Austen women, and much later still married Jane’s younger brother Frank.
Life in and around the Steventon rectory was busy. Because of her father’s status as rector, Jane and the rest of the Austen family knew many local people and were invited to parties and balls. The places on this page are associated with the author’s close friends and family.
Jane Austen around Steventon map
Wootton St Lawrence Church, near Manydown