Pride & Prejudice. Emma. Sense & Sensibility. Literary classics written by one powerhouse woman, Jane Austen, in a beautiful cottage in Hampshire.
In fact she wrote and revised all her published works here and the house is now considered the most important Austen site in the world.
If you are a big Austen fan or know one, then a visit might be for you, here’s everything you need to know for a great day out…
Learn about Jane
The whole experience is very gentle but utterly charming, my top recommendation is to head and watch the film about Jane’s life first.
Despite being a big fan of her books, I knew nothing about her life, loves or illness so this was an Austen 101 crash course for me.
It made touring the house much more interesting too, because I had a better sense of who Jane was, her place in society and her motivations.
I’d always thought she was a lady of high society who had married well but her life was quite the opposite.
By knowing more about her it helped me understand how much of an impact Jane Austen has actually had. It glued together and cemented in place all my cultural references, literary and pop, and just made me love her even more. Let the Jane Austen obsession continue!
Tour the house
After the film wander though the garden to the house and look through priceless Austen artefacts like her letters, desk, and jewellery.
I spent time at one window thinking about how Jane at some stage must of sat here staring out at the garden thinking ideas over for her stories. I don’t know why but it felt kind of comforting and inspiring and it made Jane more relatable.
There was a lot of Emma related items out when I visited as the film had just arrived in the cinema but also some classic dress up items like capes and bonnets. I think I look pretty fetching and could have totally bossed a bonnet back in the day, what do you think? I’m not sure…
Recently an expert team had painstakingly revealed the wall paper that would have been on the walls at the time. Renovations were done and the paper replicated so you can see what it would have looked like in Jane’s time.
Like I said before the house isn’t big and it’s a gentle experience but, this does not detract from its greatness. I took my Mum and really enjoyed sharing this trip with her too.
She is the person that fostered my love for Austen because she loved the books so it felt like a mini full circle moment. I love going to places with people who really appreciate where you’re going. Sometimes that has to be a very specific person in your life.
This leads me to my next top tip – go with someone you know will truly appreciate this. It’s a simple, slow, gentle experience to be immersed in and savoured without judgement.
There’s a few things to try like putting on bonnets, capes and making lavender parcels to put in your wardrobe. It’s very, very cute.
On a side note, the drive there is scenic and you’ll pass lots of Hampshire’s watercress fields, so keep your eyes peeled in the car. It feels like you’re escaping to another world and I really think this adds to the day out.
The village is tiny, so if you haven’t eaten you’ll want to stop at Cassandra’s Cup, directly opposite Jane’s House. It’s a lovely little tea room serving up cake and afternoon teas but it also has a pizza oven if you’re after something a little more savoury. I didn’t get to try it out unfortunately because it was booked up for International Women’s Day but I’ll try it when I go back next.
I can’t believe I’ve lived almost my whole life in Hampshire and didn’t know it was the home of Jane Austen. And, during my visit there were plenty of international visitors. That’s when it struck me, people travel to come see this and I have it on my doorstep – I felt so lucky. My ticket lasts for a year so I’m going to head back when I can and spend a little more time and make a stop by the tearooms too.
Please message if you have any questions or queries or to share any favourite bits with me.
If you want to make the most of your day visit Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chawton House, just a short 10 minute walk down the road. It’s Jane’s brother’s house and makes for a great day out as both houses are relatively small so you can spend the first half of your day in one and the second half in the other.
Find out more about Chawton House in my post ‘HAMPSHIRE’S CHAWTON HOUSE AND NEW EXHIBITION ‘MAN UP!‘