The Jane Austen influence

By | Category: Travel destinations

Chawton: Jane Austen’s house

Today is the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, one of the most well-read of all novelists.

Needless to say a variety of destinations have Austen inspired exhibitions or trails that they hope you will visit as part of the year but Hampshire is the county that has the most links with her life.

She is buried in Winchester Cathedral and there you will find a visual arts exhibition and the contemporary artists have been inspired by both the author and the Cathedral setting. The exhibition will showcase sculpture, letter carving and works in other media.

Elsewhere in Winchester, at the Winchester Discovery Centre there is an exhibition about the final year of her life. On 24th May 1817, she arrived in Winchester to receive treatment for tuberculosis and the exhibit offers a snapshot of the city during her final year, the sights and sounds she would have experienced as well as the hospitals and doctors that treated her. The Discovery Centre will also be putting on another exhibition, The Mysterious Jane Austen (only a few more days to run) which considers her life and work and her relationship to Hampshire, plus first editions of her work, personal letters and six portraits of Jane. Both exhibitions are free.

Jane Austen’s writing table in her house in Chawton.

 

There is also a Jane Austen inspired sculpture trail around Winchester, featuring sculptures that are all benches and each shaped like an open book. Every design is unique and hand-painted by a professional artist in a style inspired by Jane Austen’s life. The trail, which you can follow using the ‘Sitting with Jane App’ allows visitors the chance to explore the often overlooked places and landscapes that were important influences on Jane’s life and work.

The small Hampshire village of Chawton  is where you will find Jane Austen’s home for the last years of her life. Her home is now a museum and there will be a variety of exhibitions and events until the end of the year.

Bath is another place that features prominently both in her books and her life. She lived here from 1801 until 1806. Here there is a free downloadable audio walking tour of the city called In the footsteps of Jane Austen, that includes extracts from her novels and letters,  The Jane Austen Centre has an exhibition of costumes, manuscripts, and film clips and is just a few doors away from her home at 4, Sydney Place. That has been turned into luxury apartments for rent.

the cathedral in Winchester where Austen is buried

The big Austen event in Bath though is the Jane Austen Festival which runs from the 9th until the 18th of September. Previous years have seen fans wearing regency clothing at the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade.

There are any number of places linked to Jane Austen either because of her novels or because they were chosen as locations for the adaptations that have been made for television and films. Perhaps the most famous is Lyme Park in Cheshire (not Derbyshire where the book places it) which is where Colin Firth, as Mr Darcy, dived into the lake only to emerge into history in that see-through shirt! Nearby Chatsworth House in Derbyshire doubled as Pemberley in the Keira Knightly film in 2005.

Finally today is the day that the Bank of England will unveil the new £10 note and yes, you’ve guessed it Jane Austen is on the note.

For a more extensive list of places connected with Jane Austen, click here.

 

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