Day 5, Part 1: Monday, April 30, 2018 Chawton
My top goal when planning this trip to England was to see Jane Austen’s house and quilt. The plan was to walk around Chawton to see her house, the large mansion and church at the center of her brother’s estate, and the gardens and paths in the area where the Austens would have regularly walked while living here.
Jane Austen’s House Museum
This red brick house in the heart of Chawton holds many items that belonged to Jane Austen or her family members, as well as other pieces from the Regency period that create the ambiance of her daily life. Signs explain what was original and what changes have been made since her time. The tour is self guided, with knowledgable docents that answer questions.
Timeline and Family Tree:
Seeing the original quilt was a highlight of the entire trip. Having spent the past five years making a reproduction of this quilt, I really appreciated being able to sit in the room and admire the colorful though faded fabrics and tiny stitches, and think of the three pairs of hands that sewed this masterpiece. I considered the many hours involved in choosing fabrics, cutting, stitching, and keeping track of the quadrilateral symmetry of placement of all those tiny diamonds (more than 2500). More detailed information is available on the museum website.
Two community-made tribute quilts completed in 2018 are on view – a paper pieced patchwork quilt placed on a bed,
and an appliquéd topical quilt honoring aspects of Jane Austen’s life and work:
It was difficult to get a good photo of this quilt because it is hanging in the room showing the video of Jane Austen’s life, but thorough documentation can be found on the museum website blog.
View out the bedroom window:
After making a few purchase in the gift shop, we went on to:
We walked up the long drive to Chawton Great House,
now used as a museum and center for women’s literature and writing workshops. We had a delicious lunch in the tearoom,
then walked through the house. The textile furnishings in the dining room were colorful.
The upstairs docent showed us this nook where Jane Austen used to sit and write while visiting family.
From the windows we could see the surrounding land and the adjacent church.
St Nicholas Church
The church next door is where the local families attend services. Jane’s sister Cassandra and mother are both buried in the churchyard here.
Unfortunately, the weather continued blustery and rainy, so we abandoned our plan for a walk and drove twenty miles to visit Winchester Cathedral and Jane Austen’s grave. To be continued in the next blog post…