The Jane Austen Society Midlands Branch was established in 1990, the inaugural meeting taking place at Keele University on 21 April of that year.
Hamstall Ridware Church
The original impulse was due to interest in the novelist’s associations with Staffordshire and Warwickshire. In 1806, Jane Austen, her mother and sister travelled to Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, to visit Edward Cooper, Mrs Austen’s nephew, visiting Leigh relatives at Adlestrop en route. This coincided with the death of the Hon. Mary Leigh of Stoneleigh in Warwickshire. Mrs Austen’s cousin, the Reverend Thomas Leigh, expected to succeed her. He invited his Austen cousins to accompany him to Stoneleigh Abbey on their way to Hamstall. Elements of Jane Austen’s experience on this northern tour can be traced in her novels.
The Society has four annual events, two scholarly and two more social gatherings:
AGM and Study Day.
Strawberry Tea. This event is usually held in a local, or fairly local, stately home of the Georgian, or pre-Georgian era. For example, we have visited Stoneleigh Abbey, Lyme Park, Weston Park and many others. However, we do go outside this brief if we hear of a venue/activity which would appeal to members.
Our autumn events alternate between a Study Day ‘at home’ on the even years (eg 2016), and an away weekend on the odd years to places with Austen connections. These visits have taken us to Kent, Sidmouth, Portsmouth and Bath.
Jane Austen Birthday Lunch, held in December. Again, we try to hold this event in ‘period’ hotels or restaurants, and we use recipes adapted from the Georgian era.
Stoneleigh Abbey, home of Jane’s relatives, the Leigh family
Every year we publish Transactions, which contains the papers delivered at our study days, articles submitted on aspects of Jane Austen and her world, and reports of our various activities.
Lovers’ Vows has been published by the Branch, and Newsletters advertising events are sent to all members.
Membership of the Branch is not confined to the Midlands – we have members from as far afield as Hampshire and North Wales. Annual membership fee is £15, (£12 concessionary). This entitles members to a copy of Transactions and various Newsletters during the year.
For details, please apply to our Membership Secretary, Kate Wain, 3 Fernie Close, Stone, Staffordshire ST15 8YD or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org You may access forms for joining the Society using these links: