Apropos Mrs. Jennings's encomium to Delaford which I claimed was, along with Sotherton, a representation of Stoneleigh Abbey, I just recalled the following wonderful factoid, which, if memory serves me right, was first pointed out online some years ago by Anielka, to wit:
Back in the time of Henry VIII, a lady named Katherine WILLOUGHBY was married to a notorious and ruthless power broker of that era named Charles BRANDON, whose family had owned STONELEIGH Abbey at one point! And also, I distinctly recall that Anielka pointed out a distant familial connection of JA to Stoneleigh Abbey in addition to the one everyone knows about, vis a vis the inheritance from Thomas Leigh, etc etc--i.e., that the family of James Austen's FIRST wife were related to that same Katherine Willoughby!
All of which is icing on the cake, as it provides, from a GENEALOGICAL angle, dramatic validating convergent evidence that my intepretation of JA's textual wordplay on "stone" and such, embedded in Mrs. Jennings's speech, as pointing Delaford toward Stoneleigh Abbey--and also, for that matter, JA's textual wordplay on "stone" and such in Willoughby's little rant about Barton Cottage---are both stone-cold right on the money!
My mantra is that if there's a shadowy theme in JA's novels, there must be some wordplay pointing to it. BUT....rest assured that JA never fails to keep in mind that the wordplay is the "tail", which must never wag the "dog", which is the story itself, but rather is there to complete the dog!
Temple Bar Returns
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