At this time of year many of us might be looking for a summer outing, moment of serenity or to momentarily press the “pause” button. Often taken for granted is the myriad of historical locations that exist in England. An example of a lesser known – but fascinating – setting is the Jane Austen house in Hampshire which attracts viewers from the world over. There, one can explore an intriguing autobiographical history brought to life, bask in the idyllic countryside scenery as well as sit in a charming garden and stroke the resident cat named Marmite.
The house provides an opportunity for summer respite. It is positioned in the picturesque and quaint village of Chawton, where time seems to stop still. One can know nothing about Austen’s life or books and still appreciate the history of the cottage. It has been impressively maintained and is beautifully presented. Inside are a variety of details and facts about Jane’s life, as well as several artifacts and exhibits including her very own writing table and chair! Also on show are period pieces, paintings, furniture and the writer’s turquoise ring. This all makes the museum – indeed home – very personal and assists in our understanding of who Jane was.
All the details are laid out on information panels in every room and the cottage truly provides a chance to experience the past. It is easy to imagine Jane sitting by the window and writing at her table. Access to the house is through a learning centre where you watch a short film introducing Jane’s life. Inside there is the chance to write with a quill, create your own lavender bag in lilac sachets and try on costumes. There is a very nice gift shop too.
As if the house was not intriguing enough there is a lovely and peaceful garden. The plants are named, benches are provided and one can sit nearby to the flowers in this idyllic atmosphere. Those who like exploring can take a stroll around the interesting village of Chawton. All in all this is an unusual summer day out – one which would surely be peaceful (especially for those of us living in cities). You are surrounded by historical insights into Jane’s life in a gentle, dreamy atmosphere – and can wonder around freely at your own pace.
This museum is currently open but will be closed during January and February of 2017, after which it will re open.