Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jane Austen – 22 May 2011

Jane Austen finished writing and published all her books while living in Chawton. These were her final years, before becoming really ill and moving to Winchester, where she died and is buried in the cathedral.

Her books are drawn on her life experiences of being the poor relation. Chawton House was provided by Jane's brother Edward, who became the heir for a wealthy relation, who had no children. Edward then provided this house free of charge for his mother and two sisters to live in.

It was so interesting to see where she lived and even the small table she wrote at. The house is now preserved as a museum commemorating her life.

From Chawton, we did a “Jane Austen Trail” which took us past Chawton Hall where her brother came to stay from time to time, the church and then on to the lovely town of Upper Faringdon, where Jane was known to walk to, to visit friends. This little town is as attractive as Chawton, and the walk was a circular route, returning via a disused railway line. It was amazing to think that in the 200 years since Jane lived in this area, the railways have come and gone, she certainly never saw a train.

Our return route to London, was via Old Basing. This has many lovely old houses, the most important in it's day, being Basing House. It was the largest private home in Tudor England, but sadly, less than 100 years after it was built, Cromwell's troups besieged the house on and off for three years, and finally defeated the Royalist family, and burnt it to the ground.

Today, it is a wonderful tranquil spot, with an interesting and informative film about the siege, and a visual reenactment in the large hammer-beam barn.

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