Edward & I had a delightful morng for our drive there [Canterbury], I enjoyed it thoroughly, but the Day turned off before we were ready, & we came home in some rain & the apprehension of a great deal. It has not done us any harm, however.–He went to inspect the Goal, as a visiting Magistrate, & took me with him.–I was gratified–& went through all the feelings which People must go through, I think in visiting such a building. Jane Austen to Cassandra Godmersham Park Wednesday, November 3, 1813 Prison, during the late Georgian and Regency eras was a grim prospect. In an age when it was possible to be imprisoned and even executed for stealing an article worth a shilling, prison was likely to be a very uncomfortable place, indeed. Jane Austen, it seems, was familiar with the prisons of her age, visiting Canterbury Gaol in 1813 with her Magistrate brother. A closer opportunity for incarceration had arisen 1799, when she faced the prospect of keeping her aunt, Jane Leigh-Perrot company while she awaited trial for the theft of some lace. Mrs. Leigh-Perrot claimed innocence of the theft, feeling she was the victim of a blackmail attempt, and remained in custody (in the jailor’s home, however, as a courtesy to her…and her husband’s deep pockets) until her trial where she faced the threat of the gallows or transportation if convicted. Jane’s services were not required, however, and her aunt was cleared of wrongdoing, but it was a narrow (more…)
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