Prayer Book Uncovered With Possible Links To Jane Austen

Just last month, a clergyman from Lincolnshire named Reverend Edward Martin uncovered an antique prayer book from All Saints Church. Martin is a collector of antique religious scriptures, and a specialist on those dating back to the nineteenth century. 

Martin happened to come by a folio volume prayer book, and dated the artefact to 1809. Martin identified that it originates from All Saints Church in Southampton, established during the medieval period on land granted by the monarch Henry II to the monks of St Denys Priory. 

The church was rebuilt several times throughout its history, finished in 1795 and renamed by the name we know it by today, All Saints. The church featured a neoclassical frontage and had a beautiful arched ceiling that spanned the entire sanctuary. Sadly, the church was demolished after it was severely damaged during an air raid bombing in December 1940. 

It is widely known Jane regularly visited All Saints when she was living in Southampton between 1806 and 1809, and mentions it briefly in several of her letters. In a letter dated to January 1809, Jane laments over the fact she and her family have been unable to attend the church for two consecutive Sundays. Despite it being "very blowing" on the third Sunday, Jane and her family were able to make it to All Saints. 

It is quite possible the prayer book was in use while Jane was a worshipper at the church, and Martin is quite confident from his experience in collecting antique religious texts that the prayer book dates at the latest to 1809. Whether or not it was in use while Jane visited the church, it is exciting to hear part of this history has been preserved and an object with links to a place Jane frequented preserved. 

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3 comments

Jane Austen’s ties to the Church of England as an Anglican infuses her novels with moral teachings. Jane’s prayer life is rich indeed!

Donna Rose September 30, 2021

It’s wonderful to know that objects are still turning up that might have connections with Jane Austen herself, a member of her family or a time she spent in a certain place. I recall that the time in Southampton wasn’t her happiest, and I believe the house she lived in was later demolished, so it would be lovely if this prayer book were connected with her time there.

Margaret Mills September 30, 2021

Wow a prayer book with possible links to Jane Austen I would give anything to read that!

Kim September 27, 2021

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