I managed to get out of London again! Mum and I packed up and took a train out. First stop on our mini adventure was the home of one of my favourite authors: Jane Austen. You may have heard of her? She’s kind of a big deal.
I love her for her scathing social commentary along with witty heroines who meet their match in both intellect and temperament. I’ve read almost all the books (still need to get to Love & Freindship- yes it is spelt like that!) and seen most of the adaptations. I love them all (though Persuasion is my fave). And apparently so do many Americans. The cab driver from the station heard our accent and IMMEDIATELY knew where we were going. To Chawton!
Jane Austen’s House Museum
Jane moved around quite a bit due to her ‘genteel poverty’ as she might put it. This is the home where she wrote and published most of her work. It’s a beautiful cottage that was inherited by one of her brothers (he’d been adopted by a much wealthier family as they needed an heir).
The house really showcases how Jane would have lived and explores her family life with rooms devoted to her Admiral brothers and her sister Cassandra. But it also discussed her youth, parents, and early death at 42.
In the kitchen were fun little activities! I tried my hand at making a sachet of lavender to place in drawers to keep them smelling good. You could also attempt to write with a quill! For kids they even had outfits they could try on!
The gardens were lovely and many flowers were just beginning to bloom! Gardens feature greatly in Austen’s work and this one was truly idyllic. They even had fresh cut flowers in every room. Such a lovely touch.
A few items in the Museum actually belonged to Austen including this desk. It was where she wrote most of her work! To me it seemed surprisingly small. According to her letters and a museum label, she made sure the door to this room squeaked so she could hide her work if anyone came in.
Throughout the museum where some of the illustrations of one of the Pride and Prejudice editions. It is also the 200th anniversary of the publication of Emma! Each room had a little connection to Emma, whether it was something mentioned in the novel or rare editions. There was even a reading room to peruse her work!
There is no cafe but across the street is one named after her sister/ bff Cassandra!
Pros: Beautiful building, nice collection, kind staff/ volunteers, good for all ages, cute shop, fun activities, deep focus on Jane Austen the person and her life.
Cons: Chawton is not easy to get to without a car so be prepared to take a cab, people with mobility issues would have a hard time seeing the upper floor.