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 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


  1. I'm enjoying the posts, but still no time to stitch. Everyone's blocks are lovely.

  2. I'll leave all the patterns up here in the Blogspot cloud so you can do them next year,

  3. I'll leave all the patterns up here in the Blogspot cloud so you can do them next year,