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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Block 33: Corn and Beans for the Digweed Family

Block #33 Corn & Beans by Becky Brown for the Digweed Neighbors

While Jane was growing up in Steventon, the Austen family shared pasture for sheep with the Digweed family headed by Hugh and Ruth Digweed. Digweed seems too perfect a name for a farm family, worthy of Charles Dickens, but that was indeed their name. This generation of Digweeds commenced renting "The Manor Farm" from the wealthy Knight family in 1758, paying £624 a year for Steventon Manor and its 900-acre farm.

Steventon Manor House drawn from memory
 as it was when the Austens and Digweeds were 
growing up in the 1760-1800 period.

Their five boys were Austen playmates. Jane's Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot was of the opinion that one of the young Digweeds and Jane had a romance in 1800, which the Austen parents squelched by abruptly moving to Bath (She was probably quite wrong.) Jane did her part in trying to link the families by needling Cassandra about James Digweed's affection for the elder sister.

Corn and Beans by Bettina Havig

The second son Harry continued his association with the Austens by renting farmland from Edward Austen Knight in Chawton where Jane lived at the end of her life. Dierdre LeFaye speculates that the Digweeds practiced "modern farming" there by rotating crops. Harry Digweed raised corn and oats, peas and turnips at Chawton, but lest we think of him feeding his cattle ears of corn, we have to realize that in England "corn" meant wheat and cereal grains rather than the maize of the Americas.

English "Corn Dollies" are not made of what an American would call corn.
 In this case corn means wheat.

Corn & Beans by Becky Brown 

Emma and "her" cow by C.W. Brock

Harry Digweed seems a level-headed farmer much like the fictional Robert Martin in Emma.  Emma foolishly believes Martin to be beneath her protege Harriet. But the real life Harry Digweed was from a wealthy family and would have made a suitable spouse for either of the Austen girls had there actually been any attraction between the childhood playmates. He married an old Austen friend, Jane Terry, one of the "noisy Terry" family of Dummer House. 

Jane Austen seemed fond of Mrs. Harry Digweed but thought her conversation a bit silly. "What she meant, poor woman, who shall say?" Jane Terry Digweed was unenthusiastic about the novel Emma, finding it dull (perhaps a little too close to home) and was quoted as saying, "if she had not known the Author, [she] could hardly have got through it."

Steventon Manor with many additions survived into the last part of the 20th century. George Austen's rich relatives, the Knights, owned both the Manor House and the less grand Steventon Rectory at the bottom of the lane where the Austens lived.

James Gillray, Fat Cattle

Corn and Beans by Dustin Cecil

Corn and Beans, given the name by Ruth Finley in her 1929 quilt book, can recall Jane's lifelong neighbors (and also remind us that "maize" meant corn in Jane Austen's England.)

Finley listed other rural pattern names:

Ducks and Ducklings or Hen and Chickens.

Corn and Beans is #1859a or 1859b in BlockBase

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 8 squares 3-1/4” (6 light, 2 dark). Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 16 of the smaller half-square triangles.

B– Cut 4 rectangles 5-1/4” x 2-7/8".

C - Cut 1 square 2-7/8”.

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

You need 4 of the larger half-square triangles.


Corn & Beans by Georgann Eglinski

Steventon Manor received a good deal of damage during World War II (not from bombs but from hard use, neglect and vandalism.) The building was pulled down in 1970.

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