Chawton is a delightful village which lies within the South Downs National Park, close to Alton.
Jane Austen, the novelist, moved to this lovely Hampshire village in 1809. The house had been an inn and was later divided into three cottages. It was owned by her brother, Edward Knight and became her home for most of the last eight years of her life. She died in Winchester in 1817.
When she moved into the house, she wrote, ‘when complete, it would all other houses beat’. Her mother, Cassandra and sister, also called Cassandra, are buried in Chawton churchyard, but Jane is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
The family enjoyed the garden and just outside the garden wall are two oak trees which Jane planted in 1809. Her years at Chawton were very productive. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ were published and ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Emma’ and ‘Persuasion’ were written whilst she lived here at Chawton.
The house is now a museum, owned by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust.
The Greyfriar Pub, directly opposite Jane Austen’s House Museum, is a popular traditional pub dating from the 16th century. It has an oak beamed bar and restaurant. St. Nicholas Church, where Jane Austen’s mother and sister are buried, was rebuilt in 1872. An earlier fire had destroyed the church, so the current building is not the church Jane Austen would have known. Next to the church is Chawton House, which Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Knight, owned at one time. It contains the Chawton House Library, which is a research and learning centre for the study of women’s writing from 1600 to 1830. The Library opened in July 2003 and together with the House and gardens, is now open to the public.
Jane Austen died in Winchester at the age of 41, on 18th July 1817. 2017 will be the two hundredth anniversary of her death, which will be marked by various events at locations associated with her. BBC2 will screen a television documentary about her life.