Jane Austen’s house.

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This is my 1500th blog post. How fitting that it’s about visiting the house of a writer. This turned out to be one of the best trips so far; surprising because it only really happened by accident. I knew that there was a Jane Asten museum in Bath but I thought, ‘surely there’s have to be another one? She was only in Bath a few short years.’ I googled and there this was. I thought it’d be too far out of our way, but then the lovely Deana, who opened her home to me even though I’m from the internet and could’ve been an axe murderer, said that she didn’t mind driving an hour and a half to see it. Gee, we had a good day. 🙂

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The village of Chawton is picture-perfect. We drove into it and just sighed with delight. It’s just what you expect an English village to look like. It even has thatched cottages. (Imagine my excitement!)

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Not Jane’s house.

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Also not Jane’s house.

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Jane’s house. It doesn’t look like much from this angle but it has a very pretty garden on the side. I’m catching up on 3 days worth of the holiday and it’s past 11PM… I took over 60 photos of this place and I didn’t upload the pretty one. You’re just going to have to imagine it; I have a big day tomorrow.

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The front step.

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This was in the yard.

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Look at how gorgeously tumbledown this old shed is.

IMG_0903Ther was a little bakehouse directly outside the entrance, so we poked our heads in there first. This is the actual donkey cart that the Austen ladies used when they wanted to go into the next town to do some shopping.

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OMG people. Jane Austen’s bum posterior has touched that seat. That was the first hint of all the original features that this house possesses.

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Here I am about to go into the drawing room, where the ladies would retire after dinner and where they’d also entertain their guests.

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See the piano? It’s not hers, but it’s from the same time. They let people dress up and they also allow them to play.

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Jane loved to play the piano, apparently. You could just imagine her sitting there and entertaining her family and friends. I stood there for a little while and then went out into the garden. The music could be heard out there and it was lovely.

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This is her father’s desk. He would’ve written his sermons here and she might’ve read books that he kept in the shelves. She was sent away to boarding school with her sister Cassandra, but only until she was 11. For the rest of her education she relied on her father. Fortunately, he allowed the girls free rein in his library.

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An original piece. Thank goodness for families who hang onto things and pass them down!

 

 

 

 

 

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The dining room. It was a very decent sized room. I was wandering around, looking at all the things on the walls and in the cases, when I came across the thing that made this place go EPIC.

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OMG.

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I got goosebumps. It’s crazy to think that those novels were written on nothing but a side table. My coffee table at home is bigger! And I can touch it. It’s a blurry picture, I’m sorry, but I was a tad emotional. This photo is now my wallpaper on my computer. This blew my mind.

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This was something that was reproduced from the only painting we have of Jane that her sister did. She painted her sitting on a river bank, her face turned away. Someone reproduced the outfit. It was in the bedroom the two sisters shared.

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There’s the size of the wardrobe. This was supposed to fit the clothes for two people. They clearly didn’t go overboard with their clothing. IMG_1030

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IMG_0936This is easier to read. This was a letter by Cassandra, written to her niece after Jane died.

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Sorry about the sideways photo.

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This ring was bought at auction by Kelly Clarkson, and then the government put a stop on it and wouldn’t allow it to leave the country.

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Here’s the rest of her jewellery.

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This is her will.

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And here is a scarf/wrap that she embroidered and did the lace work on herself. She was very proud of her skills in this area.

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They also had a hand-stitched quilt that the Austen ladies made. It took them 3 years. The stitches are exquisite.IMG_1043

Out in the kitchen they had lavender bags that you could make. Mine’s in my bag.

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One of the guides suggested that I also try writing with a quill and ink. No wonder their writing was so small and cramped. Those quills run out of ink really quickly. Honestly, it’d drive you mad if you had to write a big amount. IMG_0953All of the floors were original. That was the beauty of this place… I haven’t shown you half the things that are in here. You have such a strong sense of what life must have been like for these ladies. IMG_0948

Here’s the window where she would’ve been able to see any visitors to the house and be able to quickly put away her manuscript if someone dropped in. This place is so special.

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Isn’t it pretty?

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Here’s Deana on the bench where we had our picnic lunch. Deana made lunches for us on all three days… along with some timtam fudge. Every time I make it I’ll think of her and the lovely times we had.

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While we were sitting having lunch I saw this cat have a very narrow escape. It was strolling along the lawn when two dogs that (up until they saw the cat) had been quietly sitting under their owner’s chair decided to race up and chase it. They were nearly on top of it before it raced up a tree that two old ladies were sitting under, reading their Austen books.

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This tree. Thank goodness that cat made it. For a split second I thought there was going to be death and destruction in such a beautifully tranquil place. But how delightfully English! No one brings their dogs to places like this in Australia.

At the front of the property is an oak tree that was a seedling from an oak tree that Jane and her mother planted, that was cut down in the 1980’s. When I went into the gift shop afterwards, they had little acorns and letter openers carved from that very same oak. Somebody made them, then they were all put away and forgotten about until someone found them earlier this year. I like to think that my acorn was just waiting for me to find it. 🙂

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On the way home Deana wanted to stop in at Wisley, which is an RHS garden. As luck would have it, it was literally 5 minutes off the road coming home from Jane’s place. We raced up, with only 30 minutes before closing time. They weren’t going to let us in, but Deana’s RHS membership card won the day and we scampered inside.

Apparently they put the net up on the back lawn because Wimbledon was on. Not a bad little cottage, is it?

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Deana really wanted to see the Glasshouse, which is British for greenhouse. This thing is HUGE. I don’t know if you can make him out, but there’s a man walking up to it. I got him in there for scale. We were too late to get in, but all that means is that she’ll have to grab a couple of girlfriends and spend a day there in the summer holidays. 🙂

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Can you see my first robin red-breast? I was thrilled.

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A herbaceous border. Noice.

Wisley is right on the way home from Jane Austen. Well worth a visit.

 

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2 Responses to Jane Austen’s house.

  1. Snoskred says:

    I don’t think I would be able to visit there without getting emotional. I totally understand. Jane Austen books are my go-to books for reading when I have to get up the next day, I have probably read them a hundred times or more each.. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  2. Lucinda Sans says:

    Too much beauty.

    Love Austen too! I visited her home in the early 90s when I was a whippersnapper on a backpacking tour. Friends were spending a year teaching in England and lived in a neighbouring village. We walked to the house from my friend’s house, through fields of sheep and long grass or crop up to our exclusive knees. Imagine walking through a field of grass that long in Australia? No worry about deadly snakes.

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