On Sunday, June 18, we visited Jane Austen’s Chawton home, where she wrote three novels and started one more.
I’d read that her Chawton home was modest, but I’d never understood why since it looked fairly large from the outside. But inside, the rooms were small and sparsely furnished.
The house tour was self-guided, and while the rooms could become cramped, they eventually emptied out and I had them to myself for a few moments.
Here were my favorite objects inside the home:
A bookcase from Jane’s childhood home in Steventon (the Steventon house no longer exists):
Her writing desk in the kitchen:
The bedroom that she shared with her sister Cassandra (the bed is not the original):
Jane Austen’s ring and bracelet:
A quilt top that she made with her mother and sister (this is just a small section):
After we toured the house, we browsed the gift shop and only one of us came away with something: Ben. He purchased a copy of Pride and Prejudice (without any prompting from me). He read it steadily throughout our vacation and is now more than halfway through.
From the house museum, we walked up the street to “the great house” owned by Jane’s brother Edward. He never lived there, preferring one of his other estates, but Jane and her family had free use of the manor. To be honest, it wasn’t worth the visit except to see how different it was from Chawton House. The interior wasn’t restored to what it was in Jane Austen’s time but contained an exhibit comparing Jane Austen to an author who I hadn’t heard of.
The one interesting object in the house was an exact replica of the wedding dress that Jennifer Ehle wore in A&E’s Pride & Prejudice.
This was easily one of the best days of the trip, since seeing Jane Austen’s home was one of the primary reasons I wanted to go to England.