About Jane Austen’s House
Jane Austen’s House is a small independent museum in the village of Chawton near Alton in Hampshire. It is a writer’s house where the famous novelist Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life.
Jane Austen’s House history
Formally known as Chawton Cottage, the house in which Austen spent her final years was originally built in the late 17th century. Originally home to local farmers in the area, the house briefly became a public inn from 1781 to 1787, before being let by Austen’s elder brother Edward Austen Knight to Bailiff Bridger Steward after two murders were reported at the house.
Edward, who had been named heir to the wealthy Knight family and had since inherited the Chawton Estate offered the house to the Jane, her mother, sister Cassandra and close friend Martha Lloyd rent-free for life in 1809.
The Austens did not socialise with gentry around Hampshire and only entertained when family visited. Jane Austen’s niece Anna described the family’s life in Chawton as “a very quiet life, according to our ideas, but they were great readers, and besides the housekeeping our aunts occupied themselves in working with the poor and in teaching some girl or boy to read or write.”
Austen’s health began to deteriorate by the time she was 40, and although she did ignore the eary warning signs, part of the reason she moved to Chawton was to be closer to her physician in Winchester.
By the middle of 1816, her decline was unmistakable, and she began a slow, irregular deterioration. Her death on the 18 July 1817 was accredited to Addison’s disease.
Jane’s mother and sister continued to live at Chawton House for the rest of their lives. In 1845 the house was split into three dwellings to provide homes for staff on the Chawton estate and the building remained in this state until it was put up for sale in 1947.
Jane Austen’s House today
Since her passing, Austen’s novels have become hugely popular , widely published and today, many are often listed as compulsory reading on school curriculum. This is not to mention the various screen adaptations that have been made of Austen’s works.
Today, Jane Austen’s House is one of the most important literary sites in the world, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year.
The Museum holds an important collection of objects associated with Jane Austen, including letters written by Jane and personal effects belonging to her and her family. Particular highlights include her jewellery, first editions of her books, furniture, textiles and the table at which she wrote her much loved novels.
Getting to Jane Austen’s House
Jane Austen’s House Museum is located in the rural village of Chawton near the town of Alton in Hampshire. The historic city of Winchester is just over 15 miles to the south west of the village, and the market town of Farnham is 10 miles to the west.
The village of Chawton are just off the A31 at the A31/A32 roundabout near Alton. Free parking is provided in the public car park opposite the museum beyond the pub car park.
If travelling via public transport, the nearest train station (with a direct line to London Waterloo) is Alton. Alton train station is only 2 miles away from the House and within a half-hour walking distance. Alternatively, a taxi service or the number 64 Stagecoach service that runs daily between Alton train station can be used for the onward journey.