Just an hour outside of London you can immerse yourself in the rural haven that inspired Jane Austen to pen some of the nation’s favourite novels.
The small Hampshire village of Chawton is a short train and a bus trip outside of London. The village boasts both the 17th century house in which Austen spent the last eight years of her life and a museum which tells the story of Austen and her family. Set amongst beautiful countryside, the house in which Austen was inspired to write Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park is bound to hold some of the secrets to literary success. The museum is now open daily 10am-5pm until the end of August.
Winchester, the ancient capital of Wessex, is home to Austen’s final resting place. The house in which Austen died can be found behind the cathedral on quaint College Street. The building, adorned with a modest plaque, is next door to P & G Wells. One of Britain’s oldest book shops, it can trace its history well back into the eighteenth century. As well as being a gem of a book shop, you can be certain that Jane Austen herself frequented the shop whilst she was living on the street.
Austen is buried inside Winchester’s impressive cathedral in the north aisle of the nave. Have a seat where Austen herself might have sat and spend an afternoon people watching in the Cathedral Grounds for a little inspiration.
If you fancy getting a little further away from the fast pace of London, a trip to Bath might just do the trick. Bath’s cobbled streets, sweeping crescents and stone houses could shift even the most stubborn cases of writers’ block. Act like a member of the Georgian gentry and take a leisurely walk down one of Bath’s winding alleyways or scribble away beside the Royal Crescent.
If you are still in need of some Austen magic, take a trip to the Jane Austen Centre. Situated on Gay Street, where Austen is known to have stayed during her time in Bath, the centre prides itself on its period atmosphere and collection of exhibits, films and costumes. Afterwards visit the Regency Tea Rooms or buy yourself a copy of an Austen classic from the gift shop. Over the summer it is open 9.45am-5.30pm every day.
Published on June 29th 2011 on www.litro.co.uk.