Guest Post ~ “Encountering Jane Austen…”

Governors house

My friend Suzanne is the Innkeeper at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont, where she four times a year holds Jane Austen Weekends for those of us who like to retreat into the early 19th century for a few days. She also offers an annual In-Character Weekend, where all manner of various Austen characters people the Inn and where one must remain in character for the whole time or risk being evicted… it is all in good fun, what with archery, and fencing, and quill-making and dancing and efforts to make bonnets and turbans , one easily forgets the call of the internet or the chatter of cell phones, and as long as a resident Lady Catherine or Mr. Collins, or a grave General Tilney do not ruin the festivities, one can really get quite lost in it all. One such weekend is coming up August 7-9, 2015 and you can read all about it here: Governor’s House-JA weekends.

But I write here today about Suzanne’s and my Love of London, discovered several years ago, and about which we have yet to stop talking… We have been there together, and alas! separately, and as she was in the UK this spring without me (I am struggling to forgive her…), I here offer a post that Suzanne wrote on her Innkeeper’s blog a few weeks ago about her latest trip and the rather alarming number of encounters she had with Jane Austen! – here is the first paragraph with a link to the rest of the post … a perfect trip for armchair travelers!


Encountering Jane Austen

After a tough Vermont winter and a serious bout of flu what form of R and R would be good before getting back to the 24/7 business of running a small inn? As is so often the case, a little Jane Austen seemed like a good plan. I’d been noticing how amazingly often JA is mentioned in whatever I’m reading, from Mr. Churchill’s Secretary to a serious article in the Economist just last week. So I wondered how many encounters there might be as I did some walking in her part of England and decided to chronicle my adventures. And all I can say now is that it is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen truly is everywhere!

Day 1


Arriving in London after an overnight flight, I immediately set out for a walk. First stop was Hatchard’s, England’s oldest bookshop founded in 1797. JA’s writings were well represented and it’s always a great place to look for guides to Regency London and places with literary ties, but the appeal for me is the list of authors who were also customers. Next stop was the National Portrait Gallery for “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends”, John Singer Sargent’s striking portraits of Monet, Rodin, Robert Louis Stevenson and others, but certainly not JA who’d lived a century earlier. But returning the long way down from the third floor ladies, I came to this wall of JA’s contemporaries surrounding the tiny portrait of her we know so well.

Day 2… Continue reading at Suzanne’s blog here:


You can read more about the In Character Jane Austen Weekend for August 7-9, 2015 here: – it is not too late to sign up to give the performance of your life, Mr. Collins anyone?? and all you closet Mrs. Allens (dare I say Mrs. Norris??) can come and rave about your fashions to your heart’s content…

Showing off the Regency style turbans they made that afternoon in Hope Greenberg’s workshop

Showing off the Regency style turbans they made that afternoon in Hope Greenberg’s workshop


On another note of interest to members of JASNA-Vermont – Suzanne is hosting us at the Governor’s House for an Afternoon Tea on July 26, 2015, from 2-4, where we will hear my good friend Ingrid Graff speak on “A Home of Her Own: Space and Synthesis in Sense and Sensibility.” As a member of JASNA, Suzanne is offering us this Tea at minimal cost to us, $8. / per person – reservations are required, so please email or call – invitations are being emailed later today to all on our JASNA-Vermont mailing list. Hope to see many of you there!

[Images courtesy of Suzanne B. from her Governor’s House website]

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen Weekends in Vermont! ~ Two of Them!

Well, my traveling co-hort and lover-of-London buddy Suzanne, of the Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont, will be hosting not just one but two Jane Austen weekends in a row:

Governor's House in Hyde Park, Vermont

This coming weekend [August 12-14] will be on Persuasion – come learn about the Royal Navy! discuss Anne Elliot’s dilemma! obsess over Captain Wentworth’s letter! [sigh…]

Then next weekend [August 19-21] the Governor’s House will be treading new ground – a weekend of guests who will each come in the guise of one of Jane Austen’s characters – here is your chance to dress up* [not required, but it helps…], speak, and act, well, act like anyone you want to be:  Mr. Collins, or Mrs. Bennet, or Mr. Darcy; or how about Mrs. Elton, Mary Musgrove, Jane Fairfax or Miss Bates, or can you resist trying a hand at Lady Catherine? – the list an endless one of endearing and annoying characters!  Maybe you will meet your very own Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley or find a Henry Tilney to spar with[there shall be no encouragement of the Willoughbys or Wickhams of the world, but we do hope they shall attend for the sake of the interest of all participants…]

Alas!! I cannot go, but shall try to pop in for pictures to share… but if you could go, who would you most want to be?? – remember you must act the part for the entire weekend!

You can view the details here:

And here is the upcoming schedule for future Jane Austen weekends: call early to reserve – they fill up fast.  [There are plans for another ‘in-character” weekend, so stay tuned for an announcement.] 

Special Weekend in Character
August 19 – 21, 2011

Series 4: Persuasion

Brock illus - Persuasion - Molland's


Friday evening talk: Captain Wentworth’s Royal Navy

January 28 – 30, 2011
August 12 – 14, 2011
September 9 – 11, 2011
January 6 – 8, 2012

Book Group Weekend: Pride and Prejudice
February 25 – 27, 2011
(additional availability)

Series 5: Emma

January 27 – 29, 2012
and other dates to be announced


Or come for just an evening and choose from these activities:
  Informal Talk with Coffee and Dessert, Friday, 8:00 p.m., $14.00
  Afternoon Tea, Saturday, 3:00 p.m., $20.00
  Book Discussion and Dinner, Saturday, 7:00 p.m., $35.00
  Jane Austen Quiz and Sunday Brunch, Sunday, 11:30 a.m., $15.00

  All four activities: $75.00


100 Main Street•Hyde Park,VT05655
phone: 802-888-6888 • toll free: 866-800-6888
email: info [at] onehundredmain [dot] com


*If your wardrobe is sadly lacking in proper Regency attire, here are a few links to assist you: 

So, who would you want to be?? if you had this chance, would you want to play the part of one of Austen’s annoying characters or one of her endearing ones?? – and of course that leads to – what outfit would you choose?? Please comment – inquiring minds want to know!

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont.

A Jane Austen Weekend ~ Spectacular!

“My idea of good company, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”
[Jane Austen, Persuasion]

Well, just another summer weekend, lounging around in a lovely old Inn – a Victorian reproduction of a Georgian style house – in a sleepy Vermont town surrounded by mountains; being waited on by the Inn’s owner and most excellent cook for lavish breakfasts, a full Afternoon Tea, and a dinner reminiscent of the repast at the Netherfield Ball [lacking ‘white soup’ of course but that is saved for winter gatherings!]; and all this with lively discussions of Jane Austen and Sense & Sensibility late into the evening – Absolutely Perfect!

The Governor’s House in Hyde Park Vermont has been hosting these Jane Austen Weekends for the past few years – I have been to a few of the evening events and have stayed for those weekends where I was speaking – each event is made more special by the participants, people from all over who have found their way, for their very different reasons, to mingle with complete strangers and talk about Jane.  This past weekend brought a full house of fourteen people [sixteen to include Suzanne and me…] –

 *A mother celebrating her 50th birthday, her only wish for her two daughters [one still in high school, the other in college] and her two sisters to share in her love of Austen – none of them [except the Mom!] Austen readers in the least.  After being subjected to a nine-hour car ride listening to a BBC audio of S&S ALL the way, they arrived bleary-eyed and just FULL of S&S, and now I can safely say, all ready to go home to read the book! [love these convert stories!] – they win the “We’ll do anything to keep peace in the family [and this S&S thing isn’t so bad after all]” Award!


*A couple from Minnesota [the husband one of the best sports I have yet to encounter!]  – he created a complete notebook of his wife’s ‘Jane Austen Collection’ – a bibliography of all her books, resources on the Regency period and Austen’s life, and a collection of all the emails received on their Minneapolis Region events – what a gift, a surprise no less! – and he actually really seems to be quite taken with Jane himself – though not so far as appearing in a superfine waistcoat [nor flannel for that matter!], pantaloons and hessians! – hopefully next time! – and his wife, a joy to see another so taken with Austen, re-discovering her, as so many do after the kids have left the house and there is time to reflect and savor – and she is enjoying all the recent sequels [with perhaps the exception of P&P and Zombies, a gift to her, that like me, she cannot quite get beyond that first page!] – they win the “Couples who read Austen together have a finer understanding of Love” Award!


*Another family, “dragged” away for the weekend by the elder Austen-loving daughter, good sports all – her Mother, her Aunt, and her younger sister – all cramming the reading of S&S into their busy lives over the past month [we did discover that those who were still cramming their S&S the night before the quiz, fared far better than those of us who actually have read the thing ten times!] – the Aunt came from a distance so a family reunion of sorts – they win the “Now will you finally believe me when I keep saying how wonderful Austen is” Award! [I think they believe her now…] – AND First Prize in the “Love to dress up in Regency” Award!


[two Austen-quoting friends with Suzanne pouring Tea]

*Two young women who love Austen, can recite most lines from the books AND movies on command [my son can do this with Caddyshack – and my goodness, how much more enjoyable to hear the quotes from Austen!], brought along the sister of one of them whose husband dropped them all off so he could mountain bike Vermont for a few days – they did their knitting and needlepoint and completed the very difficult Jane Austen puzzle in no time at all – [[but alas! the Regency dress made by hand by one of the sisters was not quite finished – she promises to wear it next time!] – they win the “We LOVE Jane Austen and want to shout it to the whole world” Award!


And the conversation? – Suzanne talked about the “lay of the land” during this Regency period – the government, town and village life, domestic life, AND the proper serving of Tea; I spoke on traveling in S&S – the economics, the distances, and the carriages of each of the characters [Willoughby and his curricle getting far too much attention] – and much discussion on who is “sense” and who is “sensibility” and what does “sensibility” mean anyway, and how does the first sentence compare to the opening line of Pride & Prejudice, and a most gruelling but laughter-inducing quiz with fabulous prizes, and of course the MOVIES – so many different opinions on each of the adaptations – Hugh Grant is to die-for to Hugh Grant is a wimp; Colonel Brandon is way cool in his waistcoat to Marianne is quite right to be disgusted with his aches and pains; Mr. Palmer we all agreed is the best of the comic characters, his wife a silly fool and more the pity for him [and Hugh Laurie got well-deserved high marks] – and though it was an S&S weekend, Colin Firth, a.k.a. Mr. Darcy was never far from the table conversation [as is quite proper] and the 2005 rendition causing quite the heated talk – endless chat, not one thought really completed, but certainly all agreeing that a more delightful weekend would be hard to come by!

On a personal note, one always finds at these gatherings how very small the world is – one group from a small town in New Jersey “I would never have heard of” which turned out to be where my college roommate grew up and I had visited it a number of times; and the mother of the other mother-daughter group was in the Army at the same place and same time that my husband and I were in the early 1970s – we were nearly neighbors!

And of course, great kudos and a hearty thank you to Suzanne who runs these weekends so beautifully, bringing so many people from all parts of the country together – new friends found in this resplendent world of Jane Austen – a step back from the 21st century for a few short days that energizes and soothes at the same time  – Jane would approve, I have no doubt  – she was there, after all…

… the Austen-era feeling certainly was helped along with a
leisurely morning carriage ride through the Stowe Vermont woods…

… and letter-writing exercises with quills
[but alas! no Darcy to mend our pens] …

…and mulling over that very difficult quiz!

… and reading up on carriages, bonnets in hand awaiting an outing …


Next up:  

series 3: Sense and Sensibility
Friday evening talk: Making Sense of the Regency World

Friday – Sunday, September 10 – 12, 2010
Friday – Sunday, January 7 – 9, 2011

Click here for more details and here for the Governor’s House website

[Posted by Deb]