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Film Costumes up for Auction on Ebay

Grab yourself some film costumes bargains!

Anne Eliot's Spencer

An unusual auction of original film costumes from Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Miss Austen Regrets go under the Ebay hammer starting tomorrow 15th of March. In a surprising move BAFTA and EMMY award winning designer Andrea Galer has decided it is time to move on these much loved items.

In colaboration with The Jane Austen Centre Online Giftshop, Ms Galer has handpicked many costumes and accessories that are likely to be fought over by Austen and film fans.

Andrea Galer says, ‘Having made these costumes which have helped Sally Hawkins and Oliver Williams really feel their way into character, I no longer need to own them. In moving them on I want other people to be able to feel that connection with the skills and materials of the past.’

David Baldock, Director of The Jane Austen Centre in Bath says, ‘Having worked with Andrea in the past we were lucky enough to have been able to purchase a number of her film costumes. These costumes now enhance our exhibition display. The costumes and accessories have been of immense interest to fans of Austen and Regency fashion.’

Everyone can get involved as all of the items will start the auction at 99p! There will be a total of 21 lots spread over a 2 week auction window.

You can find all these items until Sunday 25th of March 2012 here:

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Miss Austen Regrets: An “Imagined” Biography

Miss Austen Regrets

I am greatly pleased with your account of Fanny; I found her in the summer just what you describe, almost another sister; and could not have supposed that a niece would ever have been so much to me. She is quite after one’s own heart; give her my best love, and tell her that I always think of her with pleasure.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
October 7, 1808

The problem with biopics about Jane Austen is that there is so much that isn’t known for sure that at least part of the story will have to be fiction. In itself, that is not a problem, unless either the fiction is presented as truth or if the fiction is the kind of adolescent romantic twaddle that Jane Austen herself would have abhorred. Becoming Jane failed on both of those counts, and while Miss Austen Regrets does not succeed spectacularly, it is almost the Jane Austen biopic that many Janeites have hoped for.

Olivia Williams is excellent as Jane Austen approaching her fortieth birthday. Sharply intelligent, sarcastic and funny but still warm-hearted: yes, this is the woman who could have created Mary Crawford and Lucy Steele and Augusta Elton. What a joy to see Jane Austen not a pathetic lonely-heart spinster but a woman who had opportunities to marry but clear-sightedly chose to remain single and pursue a career. We see her take a shrewd interest in the business of authorship, switching publishers to one that will get her more exposure and work more closely with her, and taking full advantage of professional opportunities such as cultivating her brother’s physician’s relationship to the Price Regent.

It also was lovely to see Jane as part of a large family, the close relationship with Cassandra, the mutual support system with her brothers, and Mrs. Austen portrayed not as a Mrs. Bennet clone but as an intelligent if difficult woman whose younger daughter was a genius. The idea that Cassandra would have talked Jane out of marrying Harris Bigg-Wither has occurred to us as well, though many viewers took away the idea that Cassandra did so because she was afraid of being alone; our impression was that Cassandra did not want Jane to marry a man she did not love for her sake. (After all, if Jane had married for security, presumably Cassandra would have gone to live with Jane and her husband.)

Alas, the 90-minute running time (less after the cuts required by Masterpiece Classics) was not sufficient to develop the story or even many of the characters to our satisfaction. We know from Jane Austen’s letters that she enjoyed a glass of wine, but crawling around in the shrubbery three sheets to the wind was a bit much. Jane Austen sitting by the fire, inhibitions relaxed by a glass or two of something from the Godmersham cellars, and holding forth hilariously to Fanny on the gentleman present is much closer to our mental picture. And while we can fully appreciate a mature Jane being interested in an attractive, intelligent younger man who compliments her “darling children,” we think she would have maintained a firmer and more realistic perspective on such a relationship, and rejoiced in such a man showing interest in her favorite niece (and we think her letters bear us out).

We also have quibbles with some of the clothing. Jane Austen was mostly dressed in shapeless tunic-like dresses that were rather low-cut in daytime. And we said aloud a few too many times, “What the Ferrars does she have on her head?” The hats were just strange and she almost never was shown in the spinster’s cap that she adopted in her twenties. We do long for the days when costumers took fierce pride in historical correctness! When the clothes are not right, the knowledgeable viewer is distracted from the story. And we had regrets of our own that it couldn’t have been worked out somehow to shoot the film in Chawton, so familiar to so many Janeites, though we understand that the logistics involved would have been a tremendous hurdle for producers to overcome, especially for a television film.

Ultimately, the title of the film becomes almost a question instead of a statement: Did Miss Austen have regrets? And we are shown that any regrets she did have were not those the romantics could wish for: she yearned not for love, but for time. And while we could have wished for a little more from Miss Austen Regrets, after some of the overly-romanticized films related to Jane and her work that we have suffered through over the past couple of years, that in itself might be considered a triumph.

Miss Austen Regrets premiered on PBS on February 3, 2008. It has a runtime of 90 minutes, including an introduction from Gillian Anderson. Miss Austen Regrets is availble at our online giftshop. Click here.

Margaret C. Sullivan is a writer and the editrix of Her recent book, The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World can be found in our giftshop. She is also the author of, There Must be Murder, a continuation of Northanger Abbey.

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Reverend Brook Edward Bridges and the Bridges of Goodnestone Park

We were agreeably surprised by Edward Bridges’ company… He had been, strange to tell, too late for the cricket match, too late at least to play himself, and, not being asked to dine with the players, came home. It is impossible to do justice to the hospitality of his attentions towards me; he made a point of ordering toasted cheese for supper entirely on my account.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
27 August, 1805


Reverend Brook Edward Bridges was born in 1779, the son of Sir Brook William Bridges, 3rd Bt. and Fanny Fowler. He was one of thirteen children born into a family where all of the sons were named Brook (Brook, Brook William, Brook Henry, Brook Edward, Brook George, etc.) With so many younger sons in one family, it is not surprising that so many made the church their profession
As a clergyman, Bridges hade lifetime holdings at Wingham, in Kent and the vicarage at Lenham as well as serving in other parishes, including his home church in Goodnestone. In 1809, he married Harriot Foote, with whom he had several children, one of whom became the 8th and last Baronet, Reverend Sir George Talbot Bridges (b. 10 May 1818, d. 27 Nov 1899). He travelled often between Ramsgate in Lenham due to his wife’s illness and need for sea air, often stopping at Goodnestone or Godmersham to spend the night. Ironically, hie wife outlived him by nearly 40 years, dying in 1864. Rev. Bridges died in Wingham in 1825.

Jane Austen was often in the company of the Bridges family at their home, Goodnestone Park, in Kent, after the marriage of her brother, Edward Austen, to their daughter, Elizabeth.  In fact, that young couple spent the first years of their marriage living in Rowling House on the Goodnestone estate before inheriting Godmersham, located only a few miles away. Both Jane and Cassandra were often to be found visiting their brother and his increasing family (which eventually included eleven children) and it is no doubt here, that she first experienced some of the more socially elevated company that she would later write about. Indeed, she began First Impressions, the novel that would eventually become Pride and Prejudice, after a visit to the Goodnestone in 1796.

Edward Bridges, as he was known in the family, is mentioned several times in Jane Austen’s letters (as are many other members of the Bridges family) always in high terms as a dear friend fond of providing the the author with a variety of amusements and even once as having offered an invitation that she was forced to decline. Without an idea of what that invitation might have included, there is no reason to suspect a romantic alliance between himself and Jane.

But then again, there is no reason not to, either. She writes of him with fondness and he clearly enjoyed pleasing her. News of his engagement in 1808 (after his “invitation” that same year) took her by surprise:

Your news of Edward Bridges was quite news, for I have had no letter from Wrotham. I wish him happy with all my heart, and hope his choice may turn out according to his own expectations, and beyond those of his family; and I dare say it will. Marriage is a great improver, and in a similar situation Harriet may be as amiable as Eleanor. As to money, that will come, you may be sure, because they cannot do without it. When you see him again, pray give him our congratulations and best wishes. This match will certainly set John and Lucy going.


Once the match was made, however, she does not appear to have approved of his wife, as these letters from her stay at Godmersham in the fall of 1813 show:

In this House there is a constant succession of small events, somebody is always going or coming; this morng we had Edwd Bridges unexpectedly to breakfast with us in his way from Ramsgate where is his wife, to Lenham, where is his Church– & tomorrow he dines & sleeps here on his return.– They have been the summer at Ramsgate, for her health, she is a poor Honey– the sort of woman who gives me the idea of being determined never to be well–& who likes her spasms &  nervousness & the consequence they give her, better than anything else….

And later during the same stay:

We have had another of Edward Bridges’ Sunday visits. I think the pleasantest part of his married life must be the dinners, and breakfasts, and luncheons, and billiards that he gets in this way at G[odmersham]. Poor wretch! he is quite the dregs of the family as to luck.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
October 28, 1813

Screenwriters are often tempted to embellish known facts in order to add entertainment value and progress their plot. Gwyneth Hughes, is no exception and her film, Miss Austen Regrets, provides us with a portrait of Austen’s relationship with Edward Bridges as a refused but regretted suitor. Since we will never know what was contained in the letters Cassandra burned, it is entertaining to speculate as to “what might have been”. Still, as Catherine Morland once learned, conjecture can be entertaining, but the truth is often much more mundane.

The Bridges Baronetcy and Goodnestone Estate

The Bridges Baronetcy, of Goodnestone in the County of Kent, was created in the Baronetage of Great Britain on 19 April 1718 for Brook Bridges. His grandson, the third Baronet, represented Kent in the House of Commons. In 1842 his grandson, the fifth Baronet, unsuccessfully claimed the ancient barony of FitzWalter (which had been in abeyance since 1756) as a descendant of Mary, brother of the seventeenth Baron FitzWalter. He later sat as a Member of Parliament for Kent East. In 1868 he was created Baron FitzWalter, of Woodham Walter in the County of Essex, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. However, the peerage became extinct on his death while he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his younger brother, the sixth Baronet. On his death the title passed to his first cousin, the seventh Baronet. He was the son of Reverend Brook Henry Bridges, third son of the third Baronet. When he died this line of the family also failed and the title was passed on to his first cousin, the eighth Baronet. He was the son of Reverend Brook Edward Bridges, fourth son of the third Baronet. He never married and on his death in 1899 the baronetcy became extinct.

The seat of the Bridges family was Goodneston Park in Kent. The house was built in 1704 by the first Bridges Baronet. After the death of the last Baronet in 1899 the house came into the Plumptre family through the marriage of Eleanor Bridges, daughter of the fourth Bridges Baronet, to Reverend Henry Western Plumptre. In 1924 the abeyance of the barony of FitzWalter was terminated in favour of the latter’s son, John Bridges Plumptre.


Sources: Jane Austen’s Letters, edited by Dierdre Le Faye,  The Peerage, and Wikipedia. Further historical information about the lifestyle of the Bridges Family and Elizabeth Bridges-Austen-Knight can be found at the Jane Austen information Page


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Tatting and Lace Making

Tatting, one of the easisest ways to create handmade lace, is an easy art form to pick up– and quite addictive. Thought to have originated in Italy in the 16th century, it gradually made its way across Europe until, in the late 18th century, it could be found decorating all types of items from reticules to bonnets, caps and handkerchiefs. Imitation tatting can be purchased, but nothing beats the real item.

Costume designer Andrea Galer supports this dying craft as she uses handmade lace in her items. All the lace as seen in Miss Austen Regrets, Mansfield Park and Persuasion is made by hand by craftswoman in Sri Lanka. The women had lost everything in the Tsunami and the lace making project allows them to rebuild their lives as well as the incredible craft. You can view and purchase your own Austen garments, made by Andrea Galer, at our online shop. Click here.

Handwork allowed a woman to sit still and be useful at the same time. It enabled her to show off her industriousness, good taste and delicate hands. Small piece of work such as lace making, were acceptable items to occupy one’s time with, while visiting, and could be brought to a friend’s house for a cosy bit of work over tea and conversation. At the time when tatting was introduced in England, Netting was already a popular past time and many ladies, including Queen Anne, Queen Charlotte and Madame Pompadour chose to be painted with or holding their netting shuttles. These shuttles were larger than those used for tatting, but used in a similar manner. Although the world “tatting” is not found in printed text until the 1840’s, in 1781, Parson Woodforde mentions buying a pair of small ivory shuttles for his niece for one shilling. Netting shuttles were quite a bit more expensive than this, due to their size, so it is safe to assume that the parson’s neice was tatting.

On account of a similarity in their construction, a chapter
on tatting seems to form a natural sequence to the one on
crochet and is in some ways a preparation for that on macramé
which succeeds it.

The English name of tatting is said to be derived from
“tatters” and to denote the frail disconnected character of the
fabric. By the Italians it was formerly called “occhi”, whilst
in the East it still bears the name of “makouk”, from the
shuttle used in making it.

In the eighteenth century, when tatting was in great vogue,
much larger shuttles than our present ones were used, because of
the voluminous materials they had to carry, silk cord being one.

Shuttles.—The tatting shuttle consists of two oval blades
of either bone, ivory, mother of pearl or tortoise-shell, pointed
at both ends, and joined together in the middle. A good shuttle
contributes materially to the rapid and perfect execution of the
work and attention should be paid in its selection to the following
particulars: that it be not more than 7 c/m. long and
2 or 3 c/m. wide: that the two ends be close enough to
prevent the thread from protruding; this is more especially
important in tatting with two shuttles and lastly, that the centre
piece that joins the two oval blades together should have a
hole bored in it, large enough for the thread to pass through.

In filling the shuttle, be careful not to wind on too much
thread at once, or the blades will gape open at the ends and the
thread get soiled by constant contact with the worker’s hands.

Materials.—A strongly twisted thread such as Fil d’Alsace
D.M.C, Fil à dentelle D.M.C, or Cordonnet 6 fils D.M.C,
is best for tatting. We particularly recommend Fil d’Alsace,
as forming the best shaped knots and picots. A soft material
such as Coton à tricoter D.M.C, can also be used where it
suits the purpose better.

First position of the hands (fig. 486.)—The construction
of the knots or stitches, appears at first sight to present great
difficulties but will be easily mastered by attention to the
indications here given. One thing, to be constantly borne in
mind is, that when the right hand has passed the shuttle
through the loop, it must stop with a sudden jerk and hold
the thread tightly extended until the left hand has drawn up
the knot. After filling the shuttle, take the end of the thread
between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, and the
shuttle in the right, pass the thread over the third and fourth
fingers of the left hand, bring it back towards the thumb and
cross the two threads under the fingers, as indicated in fig. 486. Pass the thread that comes from the shuttle round the
little finger of the right hand, and give the shuttle the direction
shown in the engraving.

Fig. 486. First position of the hands.

Second and third position of the hands (figs. 487 and 488).—Make the shuttle pass between the first and third fingers,
in the direction indicated by the arrow in fig. 487, and bring
it out behind the loop.

Fig. 487. Second position of the hands.

Here the first difficulties for beginners arise and until they
have sufficiently mastered the movements of both hands not
to confuse them, we advise them to pay careful attention to
the following instructions. As soon as you have put the shuttle
through the loop, place
the right hand on the
table with the thread
tightly extended, leaving
the left hand perfectly

Fig. 488. Third position of the hands.

Then, raising the
third and fourth fingers
of the left hand with
the loop upon them,
pull up the loop,
stretching the thread
tightly in so doing by
extending the fingers.
By this movement
a knot is
formed, the
first part of the
“double knot”,
which is the
most common
one in tatting.

that the right
hand must be
kept perfectly
still as long as
the left is in motion and that the knot must be formed of the
loop thread that is in the left hand.

The right hand, or shuttle thread, must always be free to
run through the knots; if it were itself formed into knots it
would not have the free play, needed for loosening and tightening
the loop on the left hand, as required.

Fourth position of the hands (fig. 489).—The second
part of a knot is formed by the following movements: pass the
shuttle, as indicated in fig. 489, from left to right, between the
first and third fingers through the extended loop; the right
hand seizes the shuttle in front of the empty loop and extends
the thread; the left hand pulls up this second part of the knot
as it did the first.

Fig. 489. Fourth position of the hands.

Single or half knots. Josephine picots (figs. 490 and 491).—The
Josephine picot or purl, as it is also called in tatting,
consists of a series of single or half knots formed of the first
knot only. These picots may be made of 4 or 5 knots, as in
fig. 490, or of 10 or 12 knots, as in fig. 491.

Fig. 490. Single or half knots.
Small josephine picot.

Fig. 4