Chawton & Selborne

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen is as popular today as ever and in the small picturesque village of Chawton, two miles south west of Alton in Hampshire (off the A31) you can find out more about the novelist’s life.

For located here is Jane Austen’s House Museum, home to Jane, her mother and sister, Cassandra, from 1809 until 1817. This house is where Jane wrote and prepared her novels for publication, including Pride & Prejudice and Emma.

The museum tells the story of Jane and her family, and houses an attractive collection including some of her letters, music books, jewellery and examples of her needlework. In the dining room is the table at which

White was one of the first English naturalists who made careful observations of his surroundings and thought about what he saw in a frank, open and unbiased way. The book, one of the most published in the English language, has stimulated successive generation of naturalists.

Gilbert White’s House & Garden and The Oates Collection is situated in the centre of the village. The original house dates from the 16th century, and the rooms have been restored following descriptions in White’s own correspondence and include items of his furniture, beautifully embroidered bed hangings and family portraits. The original manuscript of The Natural History of Selborne is also on display.

Jane wrote. The Museum is very much a family home maintaining the atmosphere that enabled Jane to write.

The pretty garden, which is perfect for picnics, contains many varieties of plants and herbs common in the late 18th century. There is also a recreated historic kitchen, an old bakehouse, Jane’s donkey carriage and a Learning Centre containing fun interactive displays for all the family to enjoy. The museum shop has a wide selection of souvenirs, as well as new and secondhand books, DVDs of film and television adaptations of the novels.

A short journey south east of Chawton will take you to Selborne, which, of all the small villages in England, must be the best known throughout the world by anyone who has even a passing interest in natural history or the environment. For it was here that Gilbert White lived and, in 1789, published The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.

It is set in 25 acres of magnificent restored gardens and parkland beneath the magnificent beech clad Selborne hanger. Features of the garden include ‘Six Quarters’, the kitchen garden and the Ha-has as well as the ‘Wine Pipe’ seat and a delightful replica of White’s unique statue of Hercules.

Within the house you will find The Oates Collection, exciting interactive galleries celebrate the life of Captain Lawrence Oates, who travelled the epic journey of discovery to the South Pole in 1911-12 with Captain Scott, known for the famous line “I am just going outside and may be some time”, and his uncle, Frank Oates, a 19th century explorer of Africa and the Americas. Marvel at his fabulous collection of birds, animals and African weapons.

Enjoy refreshments in the award-winning Tea Parlour (awarded The Tea Guild’s Award of Excellence), visit the well stocked Gift Shop and plant sales. There is free entry to the Gift Shop and Tea Parlour and a visit will enhance any day out.

Jane Austen’s House Museum 34

Gilbert White’s House The Tourist Handbook Wessex 2018-19

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