I took the bus from Winchester, which took around 40 minutes to reach the roundabout near Chawton village on the way to Alton.
From the roundabout I followed the signs and walked down the road towards Chawton.
I walked past some beautiful, old cottages, which can’t have altered much since Jane’s lifetime.
Thatch Cottage (below) was home to Miss Benn, a friend to the Austen ladies. She lived in this building until 1816.
I soon reached Jane Austen’s house, which I will describe in more detail in another post.
The cottage (the red-brick building on the left) is situated at the junction of Fareham and Gosport, which used to be a busy spot when the Austens lived there. Chawton is now a small and fairly quiet village with a strong period feel to it.
After Chawton Cottage on the left, you can see a thatched building (below), which used to house the Clinker family. They had a blacksmith’s shop, where the Austen’s coach would stop for ‘servicing’.
On the other side of the road, opposite Chawton Cottage, there is now a tea shop aptly named ‘Cassandra’s Cup’. It’s a lovely, quaint place with some excellent cakes.
After finishing my tour of Chawton Cottage, I turned right to walk towards Chawton House and church. It was a beautiful, sunny day of July and the walk was lovely, with green fields, high hedgerows and wild flowers on the roadsides and sheep pottering about the fields. One can easily imagine how these landscapes will have inspired Jane Austen to write with such warmth about country life.
I soon saw Chawton Church – St Nicholas Church – across the field on the left.
Having seen the church from inside, I was slightly disappointed to discover later that, although this was the original spot for Chawton Church, most of the church was destroyed by fire in 1871 and therefore this was not the building that Jane would have known. However, you can still see the well-preserved tombstones of Jane’s mother (left) and sister Cassandra (right) in the churchyard.
I walked on, and soon reached the gates to Chawton House on the left. Chawton House was owned by Jane’s wealthy brother, Edward Austen Knight who, as the squire of the estate, provided the living for the Austen ladies on his estate. The Austen ladies were regular visitors to the manor, which they called the Great House.
Chawton House is only open to visitors once a week, but I was lucky enough to have a quick glance from the entrance. Chawton House was the last stop on my walk around Chawton.
References: Brochure by the Alton Chamber of Commerce and Industry