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Martha Lloyd’s Household Book

March 25, 2012

On show at the Museum this season, in keeping with its theme of At Home with the Austens,  is a very important manuscript book: Martha Lloyd’s household book- a book full of hand written recipes, household advice, medicinal remedies and formulas.

Martha Lloyd, knew the Austen family very well. She was the daughter of the Reverend Noyes Lloyd and, after his death, she and her sister, Mary and their mother, Martha née Craven, rented Deane Parsonage from the Reverend George Austen, Jane’s father, from 1789 until 1792.  George Austen owned the benefice of Deane, and it was there that he and Mrs Austen had begun their married life together in 1765. The two families were living very close to each other- the Austen family lived at the nearby Steventon Rectory at this time, and Steventon and Deane were less than 1 ½ miles apart. As a result of this proximity, the girls got to know each other very well. Cassandra, Jane and Martha became firm friends, a situation that continued even when the Lloyd ladies left Deane so that James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother and his new wife, Anne Matthews could live there. The Lloyds then moved to Ibthorpe near Hurstbourne Tarrant  which was fifteen miles away, but the two families continued to be close. Indeed, Jane Austen made her debut into society from the Lloyd’s house at Ibthorpe when in 1792, she attended her first dance as an adult at Enham House near Andover.

 A Daguerreotype of Martha in old age on show at the Museum

Mary, Martha’s sister  became James Austen’s second wife in  1797. After the deaths of  both the Reverend George Austen and Mrs. Lloyd in 1805,  Martha came to live with Mrs Austen, Cassandra and Jane at Southampton and then, from 1809, at Chawton. Some of Jane Austen’s letters to Martha survive, and it is clear that she was a most well-beloved friend, though she was ten years older than Jane. She knew that Jane Austen was a writer, and indeed Jane dedicated Frederick and Elfrida to her. By 1799 Martha had read First Impressions (later to be revised as Pride and Prejudice), so many times that Jane Austen joked about her in her letter to Cassandra Austen dated June 11th of that year, written from Bath:

I would not let Martha read First Impressions again upon any account, & am very glad that I did not leave it in your power. – She is very cunning, but I see through her design; she means to publish it from Memory, & one more perusal must enable her to do it.

 She eventually became Francis Austen’s second wife in 1828, when she was aged 62. The portrait of Frank, below, is also on display at the Museum. They lived together at Portsdown Lodge, which was just outside Portsmouth, until her death in 1843.

This leather bound manuscript book contains recipes from many different members of the Austen family and their circle of friends. It was most probably begun by Martha in the late 18th century and she continued to add to it during her time in Southampton and at Chawton. We know that she also continued to collect recipes after her marriage to Frank, for one recipe is dated 1829.

While the book is on show at the museum we shall be sharing some of the recipes with you here, so that you can see what kind of food and drink the family would have enjoyed when At Home with the Austens in Chawton.We do hope you will join us for what promises to be a fascinating series of posts.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lila permalink
    March 25, 2012 5:46 pm

    Woa, sounds exciting =) Looking forward.
    I’m your new reader and this is like visiting the museum, while staying at home (but not quite the same of course…) Thank you!

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      March 25, 2012 6:02 pm

      Hello Lila, how lovely to “see” you! No, it’s not the same as a real visit to the Museum, but we hope it can give you a little glimpse into current events and exhibits, especially if you live some distance away. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

    • Mimi permalink
      March 26, 2012 1:41 am

      I agree. I live in America and don’t know when I’ll ever be able to visit. Reading these posts makes it feel as if I’m there. Thanks!

  2. cathyallen permalink
    March 26, 2012 10:07 pm

    I completely agree with the other two ladies, Julie; you make it almost as real as if I could be there, thank you!

    This promises to be a fascinating series and I’m looking forward to it. I know that “Household Books” can be treasure troves of history and information. I did not know that this one survived. Has it ever been published? Do they have any other “Household Books” at Chawton? Thank you.

  3. April 2, 2012 12:38 pm

    Good reading, Julie, excellent details on this friendship. Looking forward to the series of items from Martha’s book, just like everyone else, too!

  4. April 21, 2012 3:28 pm

    I am really looking forward to the items from Martha’s book! I love the theme for this year, At Home with the Austens. I have the book The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye, so I am looking forward to comparing recipes, and gathering some more to try from Martha’s household book.

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      April 21, 2012 4:51 pm

      Lots more on this theme over the coming weeks. Martha’s book is an absolute treasure isn’t it, and provides such an interesting view of day to day life at Chawton.


  1. At Home with the Austens « Jane Austen's House Museum Blog
  2. Martha Lloyd’s Recipe for White Soup « Jane Austen's House Museum Blog

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