36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Block: 22: Friendship for Anne Brydges LeFroy

Block: 22 Friendship for Anne Brydges LeFroy by Becky Brown

Anne Brydges LeFroy 1749-1804
A miniature by Richard Crosse with her death date 
engraved on the frame.

Madame LeFroy, as her neighbors called her, became a good friend to Jane Austen. Young mother Anne LeFroy initially invited Jane to the Ashe parsonage to play with her children but the rapport developed between Jane and the woman who was twenty-five years older. 

Ashe House. In 1783 Anne’s husband took 
over this rectory two miles from Steventon Rectory.  

Ashe is the green star

Isaac George LeFroy (1745-1806)

Anne LeFroy, a published poet, a reader, a sophisticate, acted as mentor to the young writer, offering her something her family did not throughout Jane’s adolescence and twenties.

Anne was an intellectual, a“bluestocking,” a type 
satirized (note the stocking) in the humorous 
Dr. Syntax series of the times.

During the winter of 1804-1805 Anne’s death was the first in a sad series of events. On Jane’s 29th birthday Anne fell from a run-away horse. She hit her head and died within twelve hours. Jane, living in Bath at the time, was heartbroken. A month later Jane’s father died. Two important links to her childhood were gone.

Friendship by Bettina Havig

Riding sidesaddle with both legs on one side of the horse.  
Jane Austen never cared for riding.

We might imagine Anne LeFroy bolting over the head of her horse but it is more likely she became entangled in her side saddle. In Jane Austen’s England women rode in special contraptions designed to protect their feminine anatomy. Despite the dangers in riding sideways and off balance, a woman riding astride risked her reputation. Risking one’s neck was considered the better bargain.

Woman strapped into a side saddle,
fashion plate, 1807

Jane was fortunate to have such a friend as Anne, whose obituary described her as a “lovely, accomplished, and most extraordinary woman.” We can remember Madame LeFroy with Friendship, a nine-patch given the name by Kansas City Star in 1934

BlockBase #1648
Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 4 squares 4-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 8 triangles.

B – Cut 12 rectangles 1-7/8” x 4-1/2”.

C – Cut 1 square 4-1/2”.

Friendship by Becky Brown

Read more about Anne LeFroy at the AustenOnly blog:

See my posts on last year’s Grandmother’s Choice blog about bluestockings:

And side saddle:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Block 21: West Wind for Tom Fowle

Block 21: West Wind for Tom Fowle by Becky Brown

Illustration by William C. Cooke  from Emma, 1892

Jane’s sister Cassandra fell in love with a boarder at her father’s school. Three Fowle brothers attended the school, becoming close to James Austen and his sisters. When Cass was in her early twenties she and Tom Fowle agreed to marry but, as a minister in the Church of England, Tom had to wait to marry until he secured a living. Through an eminent cousin, the Earl of Craven, Tom was promised a position in Shropshire when it opened up. Until then marriage was postponed and their engagement remained private.

Lord Craven by Francis Cotes
The Fowles named Tom’s brother Craven
 Fowle to honor the family patron.

Tom’s options changed when the King’s brother Frederick Duke of York, Army Commander-in-Chief, began to worry about the Army’s moral and political health. Hoping representatives of the Church of England would keep soldiers from sin and ungodly radicalism, the Duke ruled chaplains must accompany regiments into the field. 

Sailors Carousing by Cruickshank

The change of duty inspired many chaplains to retire on their pensions, thus opening the field to younger men like Tom Fowle. Tom sailed to the West Indies as a chaplain, not so much for the money, but as a favor to a cousin who might return the favor by patronage.

Capture of Trinidad by Nicholas Pocock

Lord Craven led his troops under Sir Ralph Abercromby, engaged in empire building against the Spanish who were allied with the French enemy. Poorly-defended Spanish colonies in the Caribbean were too tempting to ignore and Abercromby captured the island of Trinidad, declaring it a British colony in February, 1797.

The arrow at right points to Trinidad; 
the other to Santo Domingo southeast of Cuba.
"The North Sea" is the Caribbean.

Craven’s chaplain Tom Fowle probably did not live to see that victory. He died in early February in Santo Domingo in what we call the Dominican Republic, an island north of Trinidad.

Yellow Fever (Yellow Jack) traveled beyond the 
tropics with ships and sailors.

He succumbed to a fever, perhaps yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis or any of the diseases transmitted by the mosquitoes that actually ruled the tropics. The threat of dying on duty in the West Indies was so great that Lord Craven wrote he’d never have asked Tom to join the troops had he known he was engaged.

West Wind by Georgann Eglinksi

Ashdown Park

Jane and Cass continued to visit the Fowle family after Tom’s death and they gossiped about Lord Craven, Lord of the Manor at Ashdown House. In 1801, Jane wrote her sister that cousin “Eliza has seen Lord Craven …. She found his manners very pleasing indeed. The little flaw of having a Mistress now living with him at Ashdown Park seems to be the only unpleasing circumstance about him….”

West Wind by Bettina Havig

Cassandra never married. We can recall her lost fiancé with West Wind, given the name by the Nancy Page quilt column in the 1930s.

BlockBase #1393

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 5 squares 4-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 5 triangles.

B - Cut 2 squares 8-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 2 triangles.


West Wind by Becky Brown

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Block 20: Best Friend for Martha Lloyd

20 Best Friend for Martha Lloyd by Becky Brown

Martha Lloyd, Lady Austen (1772-1843) 
The Chawton Cottage museum owns this photo of Martha and a favorite dog.

Mary’s sister Martha Lloyd became an Austen sister too, first as a companion and affectionate friend to the neighbor house of adolescent Austens and later as Cass’s sister-in-law after Jane died.

In 1805, after Martha's sister married and Mrs. Lloyd died, Martha was faced with an awkward future. As a single woman in her thirties, she could not continue to live alone at Ibthorp. Even if she could afford it, a woman just did not live alone.

Ibthorpe House has changed little since Jane visited the Lloyds here.
I just read that their last name Lloyd was pronounced Floyd.

In Jane Austen’s England, a young- to middle-aged single woman had to guard her reputation by finding a home with relatives. Martha’s friends, the Austens, invited her to merge households with them, brother Frank and his young wife in Southampton. When the Austen sisters and their mother moved to Chawton, Martha went with them.

Daumier pictured the intellectual woman
 (Bluestocking) preferring books to cuisine. 
Martha took over the kitchen in the Austen/Lloyd household.

Best Friend by Georgann Eglinski

Martha read (and probably commented on) Jane’s manuscripts, which prompted a typical joke in a letter to Cass. When Martha asked to read the early Pride and Prejudice one more time Jane asserted that Martha “was very cunning , but I see through her design;-she means to publish it from memory & one more perusal will enable her to do it.”

The Austen Patchwork at Chawton Cottage

"My dear Cassandra, have you remembered to collect pieces for the Patchwork? -- We are now at a standstill," wrote Jane in 1811, reminding her sister they were working on a bedcover at Chawton Cottage. We must remember that Martha also lived at Chawton and likely had a hand in the group project.

Chawton Cottage, photo by Bettina Havig

After Jane died in 1817, Cass, Martha and Mrs. Austen remained at Chawton. Ten years later Mrs. Austen died and Martha married brother Frank when both were in their early sixties. At that point the widowed Frank had 11 children ranging in age from 5 to 21 years old.

Best Friend by Bettina Havig

The 1841 census found them living at Portsdown Lodge (Martha’s age was recorded as a generous 50—a typical white lie), with three girls still living at home and eight servants. Martha died two years later at about 70 in actual years.

Sir Francis Austen, Admiral of the Fleet

Both Sir Francis and Lady Austen lived long enough to be photographed. Frank died in 1865 in his nineties.

Best Friend by Dustin Cecil in silk

Read more about the Austen quilt in a post I did two years ago. I didn’t then think of Martha as one of the seamstresses, the “we” Jane wrote about, but she was always there.

Fashion plate, three women, 1810

We’ll celebrate the friendship of the Austens and Martha Lloyd with Best Friend, a block published in 1932 by a batting company that designed patterns under the name of Grandmother Clark.

BlockBase #1885

Cutting a 12” Block

A-    Cut 20 squares of various shades 2”.

B - Cut 16  squares  of various shades 2-3/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You  need  32 triangles.

C - Cut 4 rectangles 5” x 3-1/2”.

D – Cut 1 square 3-1/2”.


And on the subject of Jane Austen and needlework (called just "work" in Jane Austen's England):

Her niece Caroline Austen recalled Jane's mornings at embroidery.
"I think she generally sat in the drawing room till luncheon: when visitors were there, chiefly at work---She was fond of work---and she was a great adept at overcast and satin stitch---the particular delight of that day…."

Best Friend by Becky Brown

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Block 19: Cross Patch for Mary Lloyd Austen

Block 19: Cross Patch for Mary Lloyd Austen by Bettina Havig

Mary Lloyd Austen (1771-1843)

Mary Lloyd was an Austen family neighbor in Steventon. After her father died in 1789, young Mary moved with her mother and older sister Martha to the parsonage at Deane, a house rented out by Reverend George Austen.

The house at Deane

When Mary married James Austen in 1797 she became Jane’s sister-in-law, although those were not the words commonly used for the relationship in Jane Austen’s England. Jane would have probably called her my sister Mary.

Jane often discussed sister Mary with Cassandra in the letters and was not often kind. We guess Cassandra destroyed the frankest of Jane’s letters so Jane may even had worse to say. What was the problem between Jane and Mary?

James Austen

Speculation is that in the year before marrying Mary, James had courted his cousin Eliza. Both James and Eliza were widowed and close in age, but Eliza made a good choice in James’s charming young brother Henry. James then made a good choice in friend Mary whom Eliza described as "not either rich or handsome, but very sensible & good hu­moured." 

"Domestic Happiness"

Mary’s good humor did not extend to Eliza after her marriage. The James Austens do not seem to have joined the family circle when the Henry Austens were visiting. Jane, Eliza and Henry were close, so the rift may have begun. “She is in the main NOT a liberal minded woman,” wrote Jane to Cassandra.

Cross Patch by Becky Brown
(Another brilliant fussy-cut!)

Jane, who'd lived there all her life, was unhappy
to leave the Steventon rectory in 1801.

When Jane’s father retired from his two parishes at Deane and Steventon, resentment seems to have increased. As eldest son, James took over the parish and parsonage at Deane, evicting the Lloyds. James then took over Steventon, evicting the Austens. The gentle evictions (or, perhaps, not so gentle) were standard procedure but Jane blamed Mary for taking advantage of her parents move to get their furniture at a good price. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!

Cross Patch by Becky Brown

We’re taking sides here in a family quarrel but Cross Patch seems a good block to remember Jane’s sister-in-law Mary. This name for an old pattern was published in 1930 in the agricultural periodical The Rural New Yorker.

It’s BlockBase #2414 .

Cutting a 12” Block

A – Cut 2 squares 2-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 4 triangles.

B – Cut 2 squares 5-1/4”. Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.

You need 8 triangles.

C – Cut 10 squares 3-3/8”.

D- Cut 1 rectangle 3-3/8” x 9”.  

Cross Patch by Georgann Eglinski

UPDATE: Cross Patch by Dustin Cecil