As an avid reader, I was thrilled to discover that Regency novelist Jane Austen spent some of her most prolific writing years not far from where I live. The pretty cottage where Jane wrote Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion is now a museum in the picturesque village of Chawton in Hampshire.
All photographs in this post are © Jane Austen House Museum and are used with permission.
Not only can you visit the Jane Austen’s house in person (at the time of writing, pre-booking is essential), but you can also experience what it was like to be at home with a well loved Regency novelist online. So distance and circumstance should prove no impediment to stepping back in time into Jane’s world.
Step Into The World of a Regency Novelist
Jane Austen House
When Jane arrived at Chawton in 1809, she had drafts of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey with her. It’s possible she may have revised them there before they were published, in addition to writing three more novels.
The house fell into private ownership after Jane’s death in 1817, However, in 1947 the house was purchased by a Mr T E Carpenter, who turned it into a museum with the help of the Jane Austen society. The museum contains many of the Austen family’s personal effects. You can even see the small writing table where this well loved Regency novelist wrote.
Jane’s writing table was placed by a window as she struggled with her eyesight. It is said that Jane often wrote on small pieces of paper she could simply fold away so as to keep her stories from prying eyes.
Jane’s bedroom is decorated as it would have been in the time she lived there. Some of Jane’s jewellery and a few of her remaining letters are also on display. (Many of Jane’s letters were sadly destroyed after Jane’s death.)
Want to see more? You can visit Jane Austen’s Home from Your Home with a 360° virtual tour, or visit the house in person. Check the website for opening times. At the time of writing all visits must be pre-booked.
Christmas with the Austens
Visit the house in person to see the Christmas decorations and hear a special audio soundtrack by Dame Emma Thompson. Or enjoy Christmas at Jane Austen’s House virtually with the 12 Days of Christmas Online.
Jane Austen’s Virtual Birthday Tea Party
Bonnets at the ready! There’s an online tea party to celebrate the 245th anniversary of Jane’s birth on 16th December at 8pm GMT. Get your tickets by clicking here. Regency wear is strongly encouraged.
Visiting Jane Austen’s House Museum
Whether circumstances allow travel or not, you can still experience the world of Regency novelist Jane Austen with a visit to what was possibly one of her favourite homes. Immerse yourself even further with Austen Wednesdays, a digital programme of talks and conversations recommencing on 27th January 2021.
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