AUSTEN‘S POWER

It’s been a year of Jane events, as Eng­land cel­e­brates 100 years of a beloved nov­el­ist

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION UNITED KINGDOM - KERRY PAR­NELL

It may be two cen­turies since Jane Austen hung up her bon­net for good, but the nov­els of one of Eng­land’s finest writ­ers are still as pop­u­lar as ever.

And this year, on the bi­cen­te­nary of her pass­ing, the places that in­spired the pithy nov­el­ist are once more alive with rustling pet­ti­coats and ro­mance as vis­i­tors flock from around the globe. Here are 10 places to get lost in Austen.

JANE AUSTEN’S HOUSE CHAWTON, HAMPSHIRE

In the pic­turesque lit­tle vil­lage of Chawton, be­tween Winch­ester and Lon­don, you’ll find Jane Austen’s home, where she spent the fi­nal eight years of her life be­fore she died at 41.

The charm­ing but mod­est cot­tage was where she did much of her writ­ing, pen­ning Per­sua­sion and Emma and fi­ness­ing Pride and

Prej­u­dice, all on a re­mark­ably tiny ta­ble and writ­ing stand. It’s a mov­ing place to visit and you can’t help but be in­spired by her pas­sion.

Now a mu­seum, it’s the only one of Austen’s homes open to the public.

AD­MIS­SION IS £8 (ABOUT $14) FOR ADULTS, £4 (ABOUT $7) FOR CHIL­DREN. JANE-AUSTENS-HOUSE-MU­SEUM.ORG.UK

CHAWTON HOUSE LI­BRARY OF WOMEN WRIT­ERS CHAWTON, HAMPSHIRE

“I went up to the great house … and daw­dled away an hour very com­fort­ably,” wrote Austen in 1814.

She was de­scrib­ing Chawton House, just along the lit­tle lane from her home in the vil­lage, where her brother, Ed­ward, lived with his wife.

It was he who be­queathed the fam­ily the use of the cot­tage. Now this beau­ti­ful home and gar­dens have been re­stored and fea­ture the Chawton House Li­brary, ded­i­cated to cham­pi­oning the works of early women writ­ers and restor­ing them to their right­ful place in English lit­er­a­ture. Vis­i­tors can make use of the li­brary’s ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion and at­tend talks and spe­cial events, be­fore tak­ing af­ter­noon tea in the house.

AD­MIS­SION IS £8 FOR ADULTS, £4 FOR CHIL­DREN. CHAWTONHOUSE.ORG

THE WRITER’S BIRTH­PLACE STEVENTON, HAMPSHIRE

Austen was born in the vil­lage of Steventon, Hampshire, in 1775 and

lived there un­til she was 25. It was here she penned the first drafts of her nov­els, Northanger Abbey, Sense and

Sen­si­bil­ity and Pride and Prej­u­dice.

The sev­enth of eight chil­dren to Rev­erend Ge­orge Austen and his wife, Cas­san­dra, the fam­ily lived in the rec­tory by St Nicholas Church, where her fa­ther was the vicar.

Although the rec­tory is no longer there, the sim­ple 12th-cen­tury church still has relics from the Austen fam­ily, in­clud­ing a plaque to Jane and her brother, James, who took over as vicar when his fa­ther re­tired.

Poignantly, there is an enor­mous yew tree out­side the church which is 900 years old – it would have been sub­stan­tial in Austen’s life­time and some­thing she passed ev­ery day.

VISIT-HAMPSHIRE.CO.UK

JANE AUSTEN’S GRAVE WINCH­ESTER CATHE­DRAL, HAMPSHIRE

Austen was only buried in Winch­ester Cathe­dral be­cause her sis­ter, Cas­san­dra, had taken her to stay in lodg­ings next door, in or­der to get help from a renowned doc­tor who worked nearby. Sadly, Austen died in Cas­san­dra’s arms be­fore the doc­tor could do any good. Her fu­neral was mod­est, at­tended by four peo­ple and her orig­i­nal memo­rial stone made no men­tion of her nov­els.

Af­ter she died in 1817, Northanger

Abbey and Per­sua­sion were pub­lished and her fame be­gan to grow over time.

And so in 1870 her nephew paid for a new brass plaque with the in­scrip­tion: “Jane Austen, known to many by her writ­ings.”

Now there’s a public memo­rial for the steady stream of vis­i­tors who come to pay their re­spects from all over the world.

AD­MIS­SION IS £8 FOR ADULTS, CHIL­DREN FREE. WINCH­ESTER-CATHE­DRAL.ORG.UK

JANE AUSTEN CEN­TRE BATH, SOMERSET

“Oh who can ever be tired of Bath?” wrote Austen in Northanger Abbey, and cer­tainly the au­thor loved her vis­its and time liv­ing in the beau­ti­ful city. Fa­mous for its Ro­man baths and Geor­gian build­ings, she lived there from 1801 to 1806.

Based in a Geor­gian town­house, the Jane Austen Cen­tre is a small mu­seum cel­e­brat­ing the life of the city’s fa­mous res­i­dent. Superfans can dress up in cos­tumes and will love the Re­gency tearooms where you can even dine with Mr Darcy. Ad­mis­sion is £11 for adults and £5.50 for chil­dren. From there, head over to the Bath Assem­bly Rooms (na­tion­al­trust .org.uk), the ball­rooms which were at the heart of Geor­gian so­ci­ety and ap­peared in Northanger Abbey.

It also has a fun fash­ion mu­seum in the base­ment, where you can try on clothes, fash­ion­mu­seum.co.uk.

AD­MIS­SION IS £9 FOR ADULTS, £7 FOR CHIL­DREN. JANEAUSTEN.CO.UK

JANE AUSTEN FES­TI­VAL BATH, SOMERSET

If you want to go all out Austen, then the an­nual Jane Austen Fes­ti­val in Bath is for you – tak­ing place ev­ery Septem­ber, it in­cludes cos­tume pa­rades, dances, book read­ings and screen­ings. You can also dress up Austen-style and march in the prom­e­nade, which holds the record for the largest gath­er­ing of peo­ple dressed in Re­gency cos­tumes – no doubt beat­ing off stiff-pet­ti­coated com­pe­ti­tion for the ti­tle.

JANEAUSTENFESTIVALBATH.CO.UK

STONELEIGH ABBEY KENILWORTH, WARWICKSHIRE

This im­pos­ing stately home in Warwickshire, in Eng­land’s Mid­lands, was owned by the noble Leigh fam­ily, rel­a­tives of Austen’s mother. In 1806 the au­thor stayed at the house with her mother and sis­ter Cas­san­dra.

Austen was much taken with the home and wrote de­scrip­tive let­ters about it and its in­hab­i­tants. Now widely ac­cepted as the model for her third pub­lished novel, Mans­field

Park, the au­thor wove many of the home’s de­tails into the book.

There’s a spe­cial Jane Austen tour by guides in cos­tume, who take you through the house and grounds and show you the same in­te­ri­ors as Austen ex­pe­ri­enced two cen­turies ago.

Tours run daily, Sun­day to Thurs­day at 1pm.

EN­TRY TO THE GROUNDS IS £5 FOR ADULTS AND £1 FOR CHIL­DREN, AND FOR TOURS £5 AN ADULT AND £3.50 A CHILD. STONELEIGHABBEY.ORG

THE COBB LYME REGIS, DORSET

“A very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the im­me­di­ate en­vi­rons of Lyme, to make him wish to know it bet­ter,” Austen wrote of Lyme Regis – a pretty sea­side town in Dorset on Eng­land’s South Coast. She vis­ited it twice and based

Per­sua­sion there, the most au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal of her nov­els.

You can lit­er­ally fol­low in the foot­steps of Anne El­liot and the im­petu­ous Louisa Mus­grove and walk along the sea wall, The Cobb, spot­ting the stone steps where Louisa fell.

It’s said even Al­fred Lord Ten­nyson vis­ited to see the ex­act place where she plunged to the ground.

It’s also where lo­cal res­i­dent John Fowles later set his haunt­ing novel, The French Lieu­tenant’s Woman.

To tick off all the sights, take a Lit­er­ary Lyme Jane Austen walk­ing tour for £10.

LITERARYLYME.CO.UK

PEMBERLEY CHATSWORTH HOUSE, BAKEWELL, DERBYSHIRE

It is be­lieved Austen based Pride and

Prej­u­dice’s Pemberley on Chatsworth House, which she vis­ited while stay­ing in nearby Bakewell. It was also used as the film­ing lo­ca­tion for Pemberley in the 2005 Keira Knight­ley movie ver­sion.

The 1995 BBC adap­ta­tion with Colin Firth used Lyme Park in Cheshire (na­tion­al­trust.org.uk).

The stun­ning stately home, owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devon­shire, has ex­pan­sive gar­dens which also house hol­i­day cot­tages for rent (chatsworth­cot­tages.co.uk), so you can pre­tend to be Lizzie Ben­net roam­ing the grounds, if only for the week­end.

All ar­eas ad­mis­sion is £21.90 for adults and £14 for chil­dren, if tick­ets bought on­line.

CHATSWORTH.ORG

BOX HILL TADWORTH, SUR­REY

Jane Austen set the fa­mous pic­nic scene in Emma on Box Hill, where a per­fect day out is ru­ined by the spoiled heroine’s thought­less­ness. It was also used as the same lo­ca­tion in the 2009 BBC adap­ta­tion.

Owned by the Na­tional Trust and part of the North Downs, this stun­ning spot is per­fect for hearty walks and bu­colic pic­nics – ide­ally with­out rows, with the ad­di­tion of the all-im­por­tant Na­tional Trust tea­room.

AD­MIS­SION IS FREE. NA­TION­AL­TRUST.ORG.UK

SUPERFANS CAN DRESS UP AND WILL LOVE THE RE­GENCY TEAROOMS WHERE YOU CAN EVEN DINE WITH MR DARCY

PIC­TURES: SUP­PLIED, CHAWTON HOUSE LI­BRARY, JANE AUSTEN’S HOUSE MU­SEUM, VISIT BRITAIN

Jane Austen fans have plenty to see and do, from Chawton House Li­brary (main pic­ture) to the writer’s kitchen, bed­room and Winch­ester Cathe­dral where she is buried. En­joy fes­ti­vals, walk­ing tours and ex­plore the set­tings of her books.

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