2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. What better time is there to see the beautiful British Isles and places connected with her captivating life and work!
One of the world’s most famous authors who brought us the likes of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen spent most her life in the historic and picturesque southern county of Hampshire. Inspired by the area’s beautiful houses and scenery, many of these spots are mentioned in her novels and have been brought to life in movie adaptations.
Join Ker & Downey as we celebrate Jane Austen’s life and literature at the following must-see destinations.
Famed for being the spot where Lizzy (played by Keira Knightley in the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice) rejects a rain-drenched Mr. Darcy’s first proposal, Stourhead is the best example of a British garden inspired by the great landscape painters of the 17th-century. With rolling hills, water features and classical architecture set to a beautiful backdrop of greenery, Stourhead was described as “a living work of art” when it first opened in the 1740s. Enjoy a few hours wandering across the Palladian Bridge, viewing the Temple of Apollo and strolling through some of the 2,500 acres of garden – it is truly delightful!
Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire
Winchester is Hampshire’s historic Cathedral city and one of the oldest settlements in Britain. Formerly the ancient capital of the Kingdom of England, it is also where Jane Austen was laid to rest having died in the city waiting to see a renowned doctor. There are three memorials to her in the Cathedral; her grave in the north aisle, a brass plaque which was erected 40 years after her death, and a memorial window which was paid for when she was famous enough for a public subscription to cover the cost. There is a permanent Jane Austen exhibition on display and a wander around the winding streets of the city is also well worth an hour or two.
While you will be forgiven for perhaps not knowing the name Lacock, you will certainly recognize this beautiful little village as it has been in countless movies and TV series. Lacock’s picturesque streets and old cottages have appeared in a whole array from Downton Abbey to Harry Potter amongst much more. It is a wonderfully preserved English village dating back to the 13th century and Jane Austen fans will know it as Meryton in the BBC’s production of Pride and Prejudice.
Lying within the pretty South Downs National Park, Chawton is a tiny village where Jane Austen spent the final eight years of her life. Her home – an unpretentious cottage on Winchester Road – has been carefully preserved and is a museum boasting a collection of personal artifacts. Complete with bakehouse, kitchen, and an English cottage garden, the museum provides a real insight into Jane’s family life.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Austen once said there is “no finer county in England than Derbyshire”, and it’s hard to disagree when you visit Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Chatsworth is a lavish stately home of yellow stone surrounded by meticulously well-kept gardens, fronted by the River Derwent and backed by a tree-covered hillside – it really is the epitome of country estates. Chatsworth House is easily recognized as Pemberley, the residence of Mr. Darcy in the filming of Pride and Prejudice.
Famed for its Roman Baths and Royal Crescent, Bath was also home to Jane Austen and her family for several years. The Jane Austen Festival takes place annually (September 8th – 17th 2017) and pays homage to the novelist including a costumed promenade and masked ball. There is an added bonus of being able to spend a night in her home which she and her family lived in in the early 1800s as it has recently been converted into a hotel. While Austen wasn’t a productive writer in Bath (in fact, some say she suffered from depression here), we certainly think it is well worth a visit.