Fund launched to repair Austen’s home
Work to complete essential repairs to Jane Austen’s home in Chawton, Hampshire, has had to be restructured following the discovery of roosting evidence of serotine, long-eared and pipistrelle bats in the rafters at the Grade I-listed house where Austen lived for the last eight years of her life.
The Jane Austen museum has launched Jane’s Fund to raise £250,000 towards the first phase of the exterior and interior building repairs. As funds come in repairs will be carried out to replace the lathe and plaster ceiling in the dining room, repair and paint the windows and restore the 1940s picket fence. External doors need painting, too, and brickwork restored and timbers replaced above the lean-to. A structural engineer’s survey is also needed of the front wall of the building.
“We have commissioned a detailed bat survey and continue to work with Natural England to ensure that all our repairs are timed according to the bats’ seasonal activities and that they are conducted with appropriate checks and controls,” said curator Mary Guyatt.
Every year 40,000 visitors come to the house with an additional 10,000 expected this year to mark the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death. On 5 August, visitors are being asked to contribute a stitch to the new community story quilt. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it hopes to explore Austen’s influence around the world. It will go on show in the museum next year. For details, call 01420 83262 or go to jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk