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Twelve Hours. The story of Jane Austen’s engagement

The beautiful and ancient church at Wootton St Lawrence is a place of worship, and a site of historical importance. The Friends of St Lawrence intend to provide a more welcoming space that is open, accessible to all and flexible enough to enable worship and other community initiatives to flourish. The Friends aim to provide toilet facilities and a kitchen to encourage greater use of the building for drama, art, exhibitions and music. The church will be a space to be used by a growing local community.

To raise funds for this, Twelve Hours a play by Phil Howe, will be performed again in the church  on Friday 14 April 2023 at 7.30pm.  The play is about a real event. Jane Austen accepted of an offer of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither, the owner of the Manydown estate and rejected it twelve hours later.

It is a big decision to say, “Yes,” to a marriage proposal. It is an even bigger decision to change your mind overnight.

The one woman monologue recreates an intense event in her life that is often overlooked. This drama is approached with sentiment, humour and respect.

The work is to be performed at St Lawrence Church by actor Kerry Fitzgerald, who trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and directed by Nick and Becky Kitter of Scratchbuilt productions.

The play, which lasts approximately 55 mins will be performed as a costumed read-through. Phil Howe will be available afterwards for a Q&A session and signings of the book, Twelve Hours.

Doors open 6.30pm, performance starts 7.30pm.

Tickets £15, available from

Press release from Friends of St Lawrence, issued March 2023

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