Deborah Yaffe

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Another Jane Austen sighting

By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 8 2014 01:00PM

My Jane Austen Google alert this weekend pointed me to this alluring yet unsatisfactory story in the Halstead Gazette, which covers the town of Halstead in southeastern England.


Halstead was long noted for the presence of a silk mill owned by Samuel Courtauld, one of whose descendants went on to found the famous Courtauld Institute of Art in London. And a number of the houses that the Courtaulds built for their workers in the 1920s are apparently named after Jane Austen novels or characters.


Annoyingly, the full story from the Halstead Gazette doesn’t seem to be available on line (and what there is suggests that its author has only a passing acquaintance with Austen: he refers to her as “prolific,” though most of us would say that her six-book oeuvre is, sadly, anything but).


The further background info I was able to glean elsewhere is also tantalizingly incomplete. It seems that no one knows why the Courtaulds chose Austen-related names for their buildings, although by 1926, when the construction apparently began, early Austen-mania was in full swing.


Any Halstead-based readers out there who can offer more details, or pictures of the buildings? Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility seem to be represented, but which others? Tell me more. . .



5 comments
Mar 22 2016 11:45AM by Lorenza Leach

I took a picture of the houses last weekend. :)

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129001979
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129001982
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129001985
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129001987
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129001991
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129001993
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129001997
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129002000
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/129002005

Mar 22 2016 01:31PM by dyaffe

Thank you so much, Lorenza! I'm so excited to see these. The houses look charming, don't they? (Although I'm not sure I'd want to live in a house called "Prejudice." Or "Pride," for that matter.) I really appreciate your posting this -- please tell us more about your trip to Halstead and anything you learned about why these houses were named for JA novels. . .

Mar 22 2016 11:12PM by Lorenza

Hello Deborah! I'm glad that you liked the photographs. :) I don't know much more about the houses unfortunately. My parents-in-law live in Halstead, and we were visiting last Sunday. We went for a walk, as we often do, but this time we decided to explore a part of town that we hadn't seen before. We noticed these houses, that looked different from the other ones in the neighbourhood, and noticed they had names. We quickly realised they were from Jane Austen's novels, which was fascinating. I took the pictures, and when I got home, I searched for some explanation and found your blog. Like you, I'd love to find out more about them. :)

Mar 23 2016 01:00AM by dyaffe

Thanks, Lorenza! Next time I'm in the UK, I must add Halstead to my itinerary. . .

Mar 25 2016 09:39PM by Lorenza

That would be lovely; I wish you all the best! :)

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