From Canterbury we drove south west to the town where Jane Austen lived and wrote her stories. The area is very beautiful and seemingly rural but actually quite densely populated. Some kind tourists from Cambridge took our photo outside Jane’s house.
We went to Chawton House which was the home of Jane’s brother, the one who was adopted by the Knight family as they had no heir. Jane was at Chawton House a great deal, it was just down the road from her house, literally a ten minutes walk and that only because the approach to the house is so long. Chawton house is in excellent shape, the grounds are extensive and well kept and we had a quick tour. They had an exhibit of women authors who wrote bloody, horror, Gothic novels and unfortunately we did not have time to examine all those manuscripts. I read many of those novels in college and enjoyed them, silly as they were. Jane’s book, “Northanger Abby” is a gentle spoof of those novels. That is Janes desk through the window there…
These pictures are of rooms inside the house and the chapel on the property. The kitchen is particularly interesting as it has not been changed much from Austen’s day. The table is so worn that the boards are concave down their length. There is anther room that has been converted into a modern kitchen and this is where the little cafe is.
It is easy to imagine Jane leaving her desk to walk to Chawton House to visit and to take care of her brother’s children. She did that a fair amount, not just his but her other brother’s as well. She seems to have liked the children well enough, especially her niece, Fanny, who, fifty years later disparaged Jane’s lower status in life! The ingrate. Jane was her father’s sister. However, in those days, nobility did not rub off on family members….it was the oldest son and the rest of them had to fend for themselves….or make ‘brilliant’ marriages. ‘Tho, I also suppose one could trade on one’s connections…That’s me in the doorway of Chawton House where Jane walked up those very steps many times….I am presuming on my connections…
We drove on to Oxford and left the car at the Eurocar office. That car took us 1650 miles and a bit around the country for three weeks. It was quiet, efficient and it had a navigation system so good, so finely tuned that it could tell us when to turn no matter where we were. It made the trip worry free and the man at the car rental just gave it to us for free.
We took the train to London and a cab to our hotel, The Lord Milner, and on the way the cabbie insisted we download the cab company app so he could give us 15 pounds off our fare…that being our first trip, so we did and our fair was next to nothing. I mean really, people have been very nice to us.
Then we had one day in London…..