Farleigh Hungerford Castle, a model for Northanger Abbey?

Farleigh SE Tower

Was Farleigh Hungerford Castle a model for Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen?

From a discussion raised by Austen author, Janine Barchas, in her essay, The Real Bluebeard of Bath:  a Historical Model for Northanger Abbey, published in Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Vol 32, 2010, pp115-134: see  www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number32/barchas.pdf.

Jane Austen wrote her first novel Northanger Abbey in 1798 and 1799, but it was not published until after her death in 1818.  It possibly had some revisions, but substantially remains as Ms Austen wrote it.  Many have studied Northanger Abbey, however most critics concentrate on the characterisation, and social context of the times.   Ms Barchas has looked at the environment surrounding the city of Bath for the historical setting, and in her excellent essay considers Farleigh Hungerford Castle as a model for Northanger Abbey itself, and for the intriguing history sought by the characters from prior centuries, and for the possible destination of a day trip attempted, but never concluded.

Farleigh Hungerford Castle is about seven miles distant from the city of Bath, which Ms Austen visited in 1797, and later moved to live in 1801.  She would have been familiar with the various guide books popular at the time, and may indeed have visited the Castle herself.

Farleigh Castle

Barchas’ essay gives a good overview of the history of Farleigh Hungerford Castle and of the Hungerford family over three centuries, in the process of demonstrating how Austen has made use of this history in the creation of her novel.  Her references include three guide books from the 1790s.  Barchas also refers to JE Jackson, A Guide to Farleigh Hungerford, Co Somerset, 3rd ed London, Houlston, 1879, and  Charles Kightly, Farleigh Hungerford Castle, London, English Heritage, 2006.

Stanley W Hungerford [SH1310] sent us the above link, and the HAFS Committee found it interesting reading.

This article was written by Lesley Abrahams [H.4a.1b.1c.1d/E.6.5a.1b.1c.1d] and originally published in HAFS Newsletter No 52, August 2016.

Stanley W Hungerford [SH1310] and the use of the code “SHnnn” is described in the 2nd edition of Hungerfords Down Under on p4.  Stanley Hungerford is a founding member of HAFS and a regular contributor to our Journals and Newsletters.  Stanley is also a member of the Board of Trustees and officers of the The Hungerford Family Foundation Inc.

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8 Responses to Farleigh Hungerford Castle, a model for Northanger Abbey?

  1. Lesley Abrahams 28 August 2018 at 7:26 am #

    Thank you Michael. More photos coming from Wiltshire, as this article stimulated a visitor to go to the Castle last week!

    • Michael Cooper 28 August 2018 at 8:43 am #

      Interesting, is the visitor a HAFS member or just a random visitor to the website?

      • Lesley Abrahams 6 September 2018 at 10:37 am #

        The visitor was the volunteer from Wiltshire Museum. He has sent 70 photographs, which arrived this morning.

        • Michael Cooper 6 September 2018 at 10:56 am #

          Well, we can certainly put them on the web in a “gallery” arrangement if they are good. Davina is off overseas on Monday so I can do something straightforward, with Davina maybe doing something more elegant upon her return (and post jet lag).

  2. Charles Morgan 9 October 2018 at 1:53 am #

    Interesting article. I note the reference to Stanley W. Hungerford (SH1410). It is not hot linked to his profile. I wonder whether many of your readers would understand the parenthetical (SH1410) reference?

    • Michael Cooper 9 October 2018 at 10:39 am #

      Hi Charles – Thank you for your comment. I note that you have referenced Stanley W Hungerford as SH1410, whereas our post has SH1310. Which is correct?
      If you send me the link then I am quite happy to insert the link. I am not sure how many of our members would understand the “SH” reference but that is quite easy to find out from one of our more knowledgable members and, in any event, the link will help with that. Perhaps we need to do a post on The Hungerford Family Foundation, Inc, your references etc. If you have “something” ready to go I am also happy to publish that.

      Regards
      Michael Cooper (HAFS web editor)

      • Charles Morgan 11 October 2018 at 7:34 am #

        Michael –

        That’s a typo. It should be (SH1310). Ugh.

        Here’s a link to Stanley’s profile:

        https://thffi.org/database/show/4223

        It might be “better” to add an explanation along these lines: The reference to “SH1310” is a reference to the Reference Number for Stanly on the website maintained by The Hungerford Family Foundation, Inc. That website can be accessed at https://thffi.org/

        The reason that it might be “better” is that a hotlink to Stanley’s profile will result in the person being asked to join The Hungerford Family Foundation, Inc.

        Many of your members may be unaware of THFFI and our website. We have anticipated that people visiting our website might be unaware of the HAFS organization and website, so we have included a link to your Home page from our Home page.

        We value our collaboration with members of HAFS.

        Charlie

        • Michael Cooper 11 October 2018 at 8:54 am #

          Thanks Charlie, I will add a “note” to the piece explaining the “SH” reference and the link to your website. We have a link to your website under “Resources” in the main menu bar. Lesley has confirmed our “explanations” of the “SH” reference.
          Regards
          Michael

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