Our outing takes in literary history in marvellous mid-Hampshire, in the Alton area. Our trip centres around the village of Chawton, home of Jane Austen. Chawton is a pretty village around twenty minutes from Winchester. Austen fans, especially those from the USA, delight in the village ambience with its lovely, thatched cottages and lush green countryside. Some of our favourite spots in the small village include the Jane Austen House Museum, a lovely tearoom opposite the museum, as well as a large playground with picnic spot, and Chawton house.

Jane Austen’s house

We first visited the famous writer’s 17th-century house (informally known as Chawton Cottage) in which Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life.

The kids were given a family trail activity to fill in as we moved from room to room which they enjoyed, and we played some traditional garden games such as skittles in the green space surrounding the house where sweet-smelling flowers were growing in abundance. We ended our visit with the gift shop where they sold everything Jane Austen related from clothes, tea through to her famous novels, of course.

We enjoyed discovering and learning about Jane Austen and her family’s life, and the broader era they lived in through the impressive collection of family heirlooms the museum has on display. The historic setting truly brings to life the context in which Jane Austen, and the wider early female writer community, lived and worked. An inspiring and educational location for both adults and children, no doubt!

Learning whets the appetite

Our tour of the Jane Austen House Museum left us a bit peckish, so we stopped by the nearby café, Cassandra’s Cup, which also sells local produce, making it very popular to both locals and tourists exploring Jane Austen’s history in the village. The café has an indoor and outdoor area decorated with teacups and bunting, a lovely spot to catch up with friends or family. We recommend the traditional afternoon tea with tasty scones.

The Great House & picnic break

A little further down the road is the home of Edward Austen, Jane’s brother. The ‘Great House’ (as Jane Austen called it in her letters) is surrounded by large grounds which include a chapel regularly used by the Austen family. Following in Jane’s footsteps, we explored the beautiful walled gardens and the parklands, where grazing sheep kept us company. This summer’s visit made for interesting contrast from the Snowdrop Sundays, which are held every February at the estate.

After our visit to Chawton house, we relaxed in the perfect picnic spot, there is a large field with playground opposite Jane Austen’s house museum. We were lucky enough on the day to catch a cricket match being played with the quintessentially English backdrop of countryside and grazing sheep. The field offers plenty of picnic tables as well as the nice soft grass to lay out your mat and enjoy.

Further Jan Austen locations to discover

The Visit Hampshire website lists more Hampshire spots you can visit linked to the novelist…

📍 Steventon – Jane was born on the 16th December 1775 in the village of Steventon in North Hampshire where her father was the vicar of the small 12th century church. Steventon Rectory is where Jane spent the first 25 years of her life.

📍 Chawton – From 1809 until 1817 Jane lived in the beautiful village of Chawton near Alton where Jane’s brother owned Chawton House.

📍 Southampton – she often spent time walking along Southampton city walls and taking excursions to Netley Abbey and the River Itchen.

📍 Winchester – In 1817 Jane became ill and moved to a house in College Street, Winchester with her sister to be closer to her doctor. Sadly after a couple of weeks at the age of 41, she passed away on the 18th July 1817. A few days later she was laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral.

Visit Hampshire website

Similar Posts