'Austentation' singer Gillie Tunley at Reading Museum

‘Austentation’ singer Gillie Tunley at Reading Museum

Reading’s regency music group Austentation celebrated Jane Austen day at Reading Museum on 27 July with a series of traditional songs that would have been known in Jane Austen’s time.

Gillie Tunley sang Plaisir d’Amour, Bluebell of Scotland, Greensleeves and Lass of Richmond Hill. Beverley Gray sang Scarborough Fair, Let No man Steal your Thyme and Once I had a Sweetheart and Mick Atkin sang Nothing Else to Do. Braver members of the audience joined in when they could remember the words! Guitarist Mick Atkin and cellist Debbie Miller also played instrumentals including John Dowland’s My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe and Midnight.

From Left: Beverley Gray, Gillie Tunley (vocals), Mick Atkin (guitar), Debbie Miller (cello)

The author Jane Austen boarded at Reading Abbey Girls’ School, housed in the Abbey gatehouse not far from the current Reading Museum, in 1785.

Katesgrove resident and Whitley Pump contributor Gillie Tunley also doubled as Mrs Latournelle during the day’s festivities. Mrs Latournelle, whose given name was Sarah Hackett, ran the school in Jane Austen’s time; this school administrator was remembered in the memoirs of another pupil of the school, Mary Martha Sherwood:

Mrs Latournelle was a person of the old school, a stout woman, hardly under seventy, but very active, although she had a cork leg, But how she had lost its predecessor she never told.

Hers was only an everyday common mind, but a very useful one. Mrs Latournelle never had been seen or known to have changed the fashion of her dress.

Entry is free to Reading Museum, which is on Blagrave Street in central Reading next to the old town hall. It is open (with exceptions) from Tuesday until Saturday each week, from 10am until 4pm.

The Whitley Pump is giving two Discovering Katesgrove tours at Reading Museum on Saturday 21 September.

From Left: Mick Atkin, Gillie Tunley, Debbie Miller, Beverley Gray

  1. Austentation’s web and Facebook page
  2. Reading Museum and their Jane Austen Day
  3. Reading’s Abbey Quarter
  4. The Whitley Pump’s two Discovering Katesgrove tours
  5. The Life of Mrs Sherwood, 1857 (Mrs Latournelle is described on p 86)