Monthly Archives: September 2014

A Southampton Church


There are so many churches in Britain that their role as storehouses of history is often overlooked. Many date back to the early medieval period, and some were built before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Frequently altered, repaired and enlarged, the very fabric of these buildings is a record of constant use over the last millennium. Within and outside every church, various monuments also have their own history, and objects with no other obvious home are frequently stored in the local church or placed there for protection, so that some churches are like small museums. Most churches have at least one interesting story to tell, but the ruined Holy Rood Church in Southampton, Hampshire, probably has more than most.


Medieval Southampton was completely enclosed by fortified town walls, large parts of which survive today. For a brief period Jane Austen was at school in Southampton, then a small port at the head of Southampton Water, and although she nearly died of typhus there, this did not deter her Continue reading

Academic Jargon

We’ve never liked using obscure jargon, preferring an uncomplicated, accessible style. There is an art to writing in plain English. It might be plain, but it needs to flow and allow the reader to concentrate on the story, rather than stumble over ungainly sentences. It was therefore pleasing to receive two reviews in the same week that were from opposite ends of the earth but conveyed an almost identical message. The first one was a review of our most recent book, Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England (Jane Austen’s England in the US) that appeared in the Australian blog ‘Reviews on all things Austen’. The reviewer included the comment: ‘I found this book fascinating. It was easy to read (none of that academic jargon)’. The other review was for our previous book, Jack Tar, and it was written by Tony Gerard on the American blog ‘HMS Acasta’ that belongs to a wonderful re-enactment group of the British Royal Navy. ‘Were I an officer,’ he writes [he plays the role of a surgeon’s mate], ‘I’d make it required reading for all Acastas … it’s written in a nonacademic style that’s easy to read.’ We hope he gets promotion soon!