Yesterday I woke up (not so) bright and early and drove to Chawton with my mum to visit Jane Austen’s House Museum. Recently, I’ve been feeling quite childishly excited about things, and as we approached the village and saw those brown signs characteristic of tourist information points – well, I was feeling exactly that.
We parked up easy and entered the museum reception/gift shop. To my pure joy, I was informed that the tickets last for a year, which means that you can keep your ticket and re-enter the museum again! I’ll definitely be going back, mark my words…
After reading signs that say ‘do not touch Marmite’ (the cute little black and white cat seen stalking the premises) I was happy to have him come up to me whilst sat on a bench, and even took some sneaky pictures of his cute-self. Honestly though, I didn’t touch him because, well, we all know how temperamental cats can be. You can see him posing here:
We first entered the learning centre and watched a short film about Jane Austen and her life pre-Chawton. It was sad to learn of her failed romance due to economic circumstances (which was so often the case back then), as well as her initial acceptance of a marriage proposal and then quick change of mind.
Then we entered the old kitchen where there were so many interactive things. You could dress up, try on a bonnet and/or gentleman’s hat (unfortunately I didn’t take a selfie – oh well, there’s always next time), practice writing with a quill and ink, as well as making your own lavender bag.
Next, we went into the main house which was full of treasures, and although of course there was much about her, there was also plenty about her family and their naval connections.
What I was quite lucky to see was some of the extra 41 objects on display, such as Austen’s topaz ring.
What I found most endearing was her relationship with Cassandra, and Cassandra’s letter detailing to her niece Jane’s death was heart-breaking.
The array of textiles on display was also unexpected:
As with all places, I haven’t said much because I don’t want to ruin it for anybody that hasn’t had the chance to visit yet. All in all, however, it was a pleasant morning spent in a picturesque village at an exceptional house.
I would suggest getting there early though, just as we were finishing it began to heave with groups of tourists.
Oh, and here is the desk that Jane is said to have done all of her writing/editing:
Have you been to the museum? What did you think?