Pencil Drawing of Steventon Rectory

Object name: Pencil Drawing of Steventon Rectory

Object number: CHWJA:JAH191.1

Category: Objects

Description: Pencil Drawing of Steventon Rectory. It is labelled ‘STEVENTON’. It is marked ‘B. LEFROY’ in the bottom left corner and dated ‘1820’ in the bottom right corner.

Made: 1820

Context: Jane Austen was born and spent the first 25 years of her life at Steventon Rectory. It was here that she wrote the early drafts of the novels which were later to become Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.

The Rectory stood, surrounded by sloping meadows, at the bottom of the lane leading up to the 13th century church of St Nicholas. In his Memoir of Jane Austen, Jane’s nephew and first biographer James Edward Austen-Leigh described the 17th century Rectory as:

‘ those times considered to be above the average for parsonages; but the rooms were finished with less elegance than would now be found in the most ordinary dwellings…the beams which supported the upper floors projected into the rooms below in all their naked simplicity, covered only by a coat of paint or whitewash.’

When William Knight, the son of Jane’s brother Edward, became Rector of Steventon in 1823, Edward built his son an impressive new Rectory on the opposite hillside and had the old Rectory demolished.

This drawing is attributed to Ben Lefroy, the son of Reverend Lefroy and his wife Anne who lived at the Rectory in Ashe, just 2 miles from Steventon.  Ben married Jane’s niece Anna in 1814 and was the first cousin of Tom Lefroy, who Jane met and flirted with during the winter of 1795/96.

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