What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
Chawton the Home of Jane Austen
=How to get there.=–Train from Waterloo. L. and S.W. Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Alton (1 mile from Chawton). =Distance from London.=–46-1/2 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 1-3/4 to 2 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 7s. 9d. 5s. 0d. 3s. 10-1/2d. Return 13s. 6d. 8s. 8d. 7s. 9d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–At Alton–"Swan Hotel,” “Crown Hotel,” etc.
Situated about a mile from Alton Station, on the main line of the South-Western Railway, is the little village of Chawton, the residence of Jane Austen at the time when she was producing her best literary work. A walk along the main Winchester road brings one to the charming old-world place, and, keeping on past the thatched cottages of the village, one reaches a small brick house on the right-hand side, near a pond, just before the road divides for Winchester and Gosport. This building, which is now tenanted by a workman’s club, was Chawton Cottage, where Jane Austen spent some of the brightest days of her life, and wrote her most successful novels, books which are more highly appreciated at the present day than they were during the lifetime of the authoress.
Her father was rector of Steventon, another Hampshire village, at which place his daughter was born in 1775, and where her early days were spent. Jane Austen’s novels are remarkable for the truthfulness and charm with which they reproduce the everyday life of the upper middle classes in England in her time, and for delicate and yet distinct insight into every variety of the human character. Miss Austen’s first four novels, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma, were published anonymously.
A short distance along the Gosport road is Chawton Park, a remarkably fine Elizabethan mansion, occupied in Miss Austen’s time by Edward Knight, the lord of the manor. This country seat, which is not accessible to visitors, was most probably the original of Mansfield Park, and in the little church close by are several monuments to the Knight family. Miss Austen died at Winchester on July 24, 1817, and is buried in the cathedral. The brass to her memory is in the north aisle.
Within easy walking distance is Gilbert White’s home at Selborne, which is treated under a separate heading (p. 70).
[Illustration: JANE AUSTEN’S COTTAGE AT CHAWTON.
Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbeywere revised and partly rewritten here; and Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion were entirely produced at the cottage.]