Recreating Jane Austen’s World - Aldbourne couple feature in BBC Documentary

Written by Sue Round.

 2017 marks the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. However, her world is very much alive today.  


Aldbourne couple Ros and Chris Oswald love all things Jane Austen and are featured in a BBC documentary – “My Friend Jane” - which will be shown on BBC One South on Monday July 17 at 7pm.

This is the eve of the anniversary Jane Austen’s death (July 18th 1871).


Ros, a musician, enjoys playing Jane Austen’s personal collection of music on her 18th century Spinet. She gives lecture performances to local interest groups and is about to take delivery of an 1812 Broadwood square piano.


In Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’, Jane Fairfax plays ‘Robin Adair’ on a Broadwood square piano.  Ros is thrilled to have found an original score of the song.


Jane Austen GroupJane Austen GroupRos and Chris are members of the Hampshire Regency Dancers who specialize in dances from the late Georgian and Regency periods (1775-1830).  Country dances, Cotillions, Quadrilles were all danced by Jane Austen and her contemporaries usually at the balls held in large country houses.


No one who has read any Jane Austen novel can fail to understand the significance of balls for entertainment, for gossip and for giving the opportunity of meeting persons of the opposite sex.


Ros and Chris frequently participate in Regency balls and Chris makes all of their costumes, including Ros’s undergarments!


Chris, who is a solicitor, told :  “I am most proud of making my wife’s long corset.  It had three layers of material, brocade and a ‘busk’ made out of wood to ensure good posture.  I am an engineer by nature, but just like a mechano kit you follow the instructions and that’s what you get.  And if you get it wrong you can unpick the seams.”


“She [Austen] would probably think we were a bit sad really!”  says Ros. 


“I mean if you read some of the things she says in her novels they are very cutting.”    “I should imagine she would make comments such as  ‘I do wonder what is missing from people’s lives that they should hark back to old days rather than modern ones’”, laughs Chris. 


Chris’s favourite Austen novel is ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and so it seems he and Ros are certainly paying homage to a famous line in the book :”Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”