The Jane Austen society of the UK
In November 2013 Kingston upon Hull was designated the 2017 UK city of culture, causing something of a stir in the Society’s Northern Branch. Our membership is drawn from across the North and beyond, but the majority of our events are held in York or Leeds, both cities fairly central to our main catchment area. Hull being way out on the edge and venues being an unknown quantity, should we take a chance and be part of this important year for this city in our area? It certainly offered us the chance to do something different for Jane Austen 200 and, with three former pupils of the same school in Hull on our committee, it was, as the saying goes, a ‘no-brainer’.
There were four questions to consider: when, where and what, dictated by who? ‘When’ was easy. With the extra distance involved we needed kind weather and lighter nights. May almost chose itself – as did the ‘who’. We needed someone who would attract our own members; the answer was a Branch favourite, Professor John Mullan, a writer, broadcaster and journalist. Soon the ‘who’ also included Hull Regency Dancers.
The ‘where’ we settled on was Hull Minster, situated in the Old Town and where William Wilberforce was baptised. On an initial recce we learnt that substantial work was planned on the building in time for 2017; the new space to be created by removing the pews would be ideal for our event. All we needed now was the audience.
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