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Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Pilgrimage to Chawton

Last month I finally got the chance to visit Chawton at my leisure – on my own, with plenty of time on my hands. A chance to walk the roads that Jane had walked, past the buildings and hedgerows that she had passed, to admire the fields and trees that she had admired in her beloved Hampshire countryside…
I took the bus from Winchester, which took around 40 minutes to reach the roundabout near Chawton village on the way to Alton.

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


  1. Hi Anna. Great post. You have inspired me to go to Chawton by bus from Winchester next time.
    I come from Southampton and now live in Wimbledon, South London. Chawton is one of my favourite places.

    I like the way you have taken pictures of the cottages as you walk into Chawton from the roundabout. I've always driven along there and not stopped. They are lovely cottages.
    I've really enjoyed this post.

  2. Thank you Tony, glad you enjoyed it! Personally I always enjoy reading through blogs with lots of photos, and I just couldn't resist the lovely views in and around Chawton, and kept clicking away :)

  3. Hi once again Anna. Just a thought. I wrote a post on my Blog, London Calling, about a trip one of my best friends and I took to Chawton. It's a slightly different approach to yours. I thought you might like to have a look at it.
    Not all my posts are about Jane Austen but most are. If you put Jane Austen into the search box it should sort all my Jane related posts and you will see the trip to Chawton listed.
    All the best,

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Great, I'll have a look at that!

  6. Your photographs are so wonderful, Anna. I have never been to Chawton (but will make the trek one day), so you have added immensely to my knowledge of the area. Vic

  7. Lovely photos, Anna!
    Like Vic, I hope, one day, make a visit all Jane's place. Raquel

  8. Thank you, Vic and Raquel. You should certainly visit Chawton one day - it's beautiful and a very interesting place to explore.


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