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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Exploring Chawton

Very recently Chawton House Library held a heritage open day, and luckily I was in the area that weekend, as it’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for ages. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for exploring the House and gardens.

The House was the former home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen-Knight, and it has some wonderful collections in The Library. It was a real privilege to explore inside. Sadly photography was not permitted the House, but you can see some photos of the interior and the fabulous library here. After visiting the gardens we peeked inside the church of St Nicholas – Jane Austen’s sister and mother are buried in the graveyard.

On the next day we returned to Chawton so that we could visit Chawton Cottage (Jane Austen's House Museum), where Jane lived for eight years. The weather was not as kind that day, but I didn’t mind. It has been many years since I last went inside the Cottage and it was so lovely to see it again.

As always when following in Jane’s footsteps, I have to resist the temptation to shriek ‘Jane Austen was here!’ and just hug myself inside, if you know what I mean. I stood next to Jane’s writing table and hoped that some of her incredible genius might somehow magically waft across to me, like the scent of the flowers in her garden. The museum has personal relics of the family, including the famous topaz crosses bought for Jane and Cassandra by their sailor brother Charles Austen.

It goes without saying that there is a wonderful gift shop, too, where you can stock up on goodies and books related to Austen and her works.

And in breaking news: Janeites will know that 2013 is the bicentenary of the publication of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A new, beautifully illustrated book by Hazel Jones and Maggie Lane, Celebrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane’s Darling Child will be published by Lansdown Media this autumn.


Jane Odiwe said...

I love the photo of you at Jane's desk, Sue! Sounds like a perfect day.

Sue Wilkes said...

I think I'm leaning right over to try and get as close to JA as possible! It was a wonderful couple of days!