Following in the footsteps
Follow in the footsteps of one of the nation’s best-loved writers and see a world of creativity come alive with every step on the Jane Austen trail.
Start your journey from Alton High Street, where Jane and her sister Cassandra frequently walked for shopping and entertainment. Also here, her brother Henry had a branch of his bank, Austen, Maude and Tilson, which he often visited on business from London.
Keep following Jane’s footsteps down to Chawton to see Prowting’s family house, blacksmith’s shop, where she used to take the coach to London and, finally, her beautiful house.
Jane, her mother and sister Cassandra moved into this house in 1809 following its refurbishment. Within the house walls, it is not hard to imagine the maids Sally and Betsy, and the men-servants Browning and William, bustling around the house.
Today, the museum reflects the comfortable family home that the Austen women created while telling the story of their lives and Jane’s work.
The cottage itself houses a collection of Jane Austen artefacts whilst retaining the charms of the early 19th century home that Jane would have known.
But don’t stop here, there’s more to see… Walk on to the Chawton House Library. Jane often visited the house, particularly when her brother Edward and his family were in residence: “Aunt Cass and I dine at the Gt House today. We shall be a snug half dozen”.
The house belonged to Edward, who was adopted by the childless Knight cousins. It is now a specialist and unique library of over 9,000 titles focusing on women’s writing in English from 1600 to 1830, and also the Knight family library, containing some volumes that were known to Jane Austen. There are family portraits, as well as those of women writers.
The Jane Austen Trail is 1.5 miles, and a leaflet can be downloaded from the Jane Austen Regency Week website: www.janeaustentrail.org.uk