On Saturday 24 May Jane and Cassandra set off on the sixteen-mile journey to Winchester, in James's carriage,sent over from Steventon for the purpose,and attended by Henry and their nephew William Knight;it distressed Jane to see them 'riding in rain almost all the way.' Mrs Heathcote had arranged accommodation for them near the Close,at Mrs David's small house,No 8 College Street,where they occupied rooms on the first floor. 'Our lodgings are very comfortable.We have a neat little Drawg.room with a Bow-window overlooking Dr Gabell's Garden' Jane told James-Edward in her letter to him of 27 May. She wrote in a resolutely optimistic tone and with her usual note of wry humour
'I will not boast of my handwriting;neither that nor my face have yet recovered their proper beauty, but in other respects I am gaining strength very fast'
By March 1817 Jane Austen was unable to continue writing "The Brothers", later renamed "Sanditon", as she was quite unwell. On April 27th, probably aware of the serious nature of her illness, Jane Austen wrote her will at her home in Chawton. The beneficiary of almost everything Jane had was her dear sister Cassandra. She specified a payment of £50 to her brother Henry who had helped so much in getting her books published, and another £50 to Henry's French housekeeper Madame Bigeon who had lost all her savings when Henry's bank failed. Allowing for the payment of funeral expenses and the two legacies mentioned, everything else she possessed was willed by Jane to her beloved sister Cassandra.It is estimated that this amounted to just under £800.
As Jane's will had not been witnessed two of her friends had to sign sworn statements that they recognised Jane's handwriting as they had known her for many years.
Thankfully the legacy of her wonderful writing has been left to all of us her readers.
Less than three months after writing her will Jane Austen died in Winchester at the early age of 41. Eileen Collins