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Netley Abbey

We had a little water party yesterday; I and my two nephews [George and Edward Knight] went from the Itchen Ferry up to Northam, where we landed, looked into the 74, and walked home, and it was so much enjoyed that I had intended to take them to Netley to-day; the tide is just right for our going immediately after noonshine, but I am afraid there will be rain; if we cannot get so far, however, we may perhaps go round from the ferry to the quay.” Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra Monday, 24 October 1808 “ Netley Abbey was founded by monks in 1239. If you find Southampton on the map, you can see why Jane Austen crossed over to it by ferry. Now the distance can be covered by bus. The Abbey is close to the water in a wooded area. There must have been some facility at the ferry landing when Austen visited but not much more. The little town that is near it was not developed until Victorian times. The ruins are quite substantial. One of the windows has the same characteristics of the window in Westminster Abbey and it is believed that the same mason worked on both windows. By Gillian Moy, CC BY-SA 2.0 Richard John King’s 1876 guidebook, A handbook for travellers in Surrey, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight, offers a close hand look at the history of the Abbey: Netley Abbey, about 3 m. S. of Southampton, must not be (more…)
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Paper Ships: An Austen Inspired Flotilla

Paper Ships: An Austen Inspired Flotilla

In October, 1809, Jane Austen was busy entertaining her nephews, Edward’s children, after the death of their mother. She wrote to Cassandra with a round up of their busy schedule, which included games, constructing ships from paper, and walks about town:

“We do not want amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable; spillikins, paper ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards, with watching the flow and ebb of the river, and now and then a stroll out, keep us well employed; and we mean to avail ourselves of our kind papa’s consideration, by not returning to Winchester till quite the evening of Wednesday.”

Anne Elliot entertains her nephews with paper ships (Persuasaion, 1995).
Anne Elliot entertains her nephews with a paper flotilla (Image from Persuasaion, 1995).

No doubt, this time with her brother’s children was excellent practice for writing the character of Anne Elliot in Persuasion. Paper ships are quite easy to make and can become addicting. The directions, however, are easier shown than described. Watch the following video, or visit wikihow for detailed instructions. Continue reading Paper Ships: An Austen Inspired Flotilla

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Bilbocatch: Old Fashioned Ball and Cup Fun

We do not want amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable; spillikins, paper ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards, with watching the flow and ebb of the river, and now and then a stroll out, keep us well employed; and we mean to avail ourselves of our kind papa’s consideration, by not returning to Winchester till quite the evening of Wednesday.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
October 29, 1809

This Bilbocatch, which belonged to Jane Austen, is on display at Chawton Cottage.
This Bilbocatch, which belonged to Jane Austen, is on display at Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen loved spending time with her many nieces and nephews. At the time this letter was written, two of Edward’s sons were staying with her in Southampton after the death of their mother. Riddles, paper ships and cards are easy enough to decipher, but what was the “Bilbocatch” game that Jane Austen referred to?

Bilbocatch, from "The Girl's Own Book" by Lydia Marie Child (1838)
Bilbocatch, from “The Girl’s Own Book” by Lydia Marie Child (1838)

Commonly known as Cup-And-Ball, Bilbocatch refers to “a traditional childs toy. It is a wooden cup with a handle, and a small ball attached to the cup by a string. It is popular in Spanish-speaking countries, where it is called “boliche”. The name varies across many countries — in El Salvador and Guatemala it is called “capirucho”; in Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico it is called “balero”; in Spain it is “boliche”; in Brazil it is called “bilboquê”; in Chile it is “emboque”; in Colombia it is called “coca” or “ticayo”; and in Venezuela the game is called “perinola”.A variant game, Kendama, known in England as Ring and Pin, is very popular in Japan.
Continue reading Bilbocatch: Old Fashioned Ball and Cup Fun