Saturday, August 24, 2019

RSV England Trip - Day Two: Chawton House and Jane Austen House Museum

(Apologies for the long lag between posts - life keeps getting in the way of blogging!)

Day Two of our tour - Wednesday, June 19 - began again in Bath.  We gathered in the lobby of the hotel once again.  Heather and I were unintentionally dressed to match the wallpaper:

We met up with our tour guide again, and she introduced us to our coach driver for the day, Chris.  He took us first to the Holburne Museum:

We did not go in the actual museum, but behind it are the Sydney Gardens where Jane Austen often went for walks when she lived right across the street!  We naturally all made a mad dash across the road when there was a brief lull in traffic:

And there is it, Number 4 Sydney Place:

Everyone insisted that Heather and I, as the only two dressed in Regency, be thoroughly photographed in front of the door.

This photo ended up in our local paper!

We also took a full group photo, but I didn't get one on my camera.  Then we crossed back over to take a walk in Sydney Gardens.  As we were entering the garden, I was approached by a lovely lady who asked if she could take my picture.  Turns out she works at the Jane Austen Center in town, and she LIVES at Number 4!  She  wanted my permission - which I gave - to use my picture for a social media post.

I caught up with Heather again inside the gardens, but sadly there was not much time for more photos.

It was time to get moving!  We had the coach and driver for the entire day, but there was much to see.

Our driver, Chris
We set off for Chawton, in east Hampshire.  Along the way we passed Stonehenge!

No time to stop, though.  We were free to visit Stonehenge on our own time if we so chose, and I know at least a couple people did.  I will save that for my next visit to England.

Leaving behind the opulent 18th Century stone architecture of Bath, we traveled back in time to villages where they still have thatched roofs!  I was unable to get good photos of them as we drove past, but here are a couple mediocre ones:

Our next stop was Chawton House, which has a fascinating history!  It can only be inherited by a member of the Knight family, and whoever inherits it must change their surname to Knight!  Jane Austen's brother Edward was essentially adopted by the childless Thomas and Catherine Knight, who lived there at the time.  Thomas was a relative of Jane and Edward's father, and upon his death Edward inherited the estate and changed his name to Edward Knight.

I forgot to get a photo of the front of the house, but this is the side. It's beautiful.

Jane Austen often visited Chawton House, which she called the "Great House" in her letters.

Our tour guide gave us extensive historical background of the house and family.
 The Elizabethan style is still very evident in the decor:

A view of the front lane

I LOVED all of the window seats!  This one was in the dining room:

I couldn't resist sitting and soaking in the ambiance.  I can just imagine Jane Austen sitting here and reading a book on one of her visits to her brother!

Another window seat in the dining room:

They also have the actual table that was in the dining room at Edward Austen's time - though not the chairs.  So Jane would have sat at this very table when dining with her family at the Great House:

And of course Heather and I took advantage of the photo op!

The woodwork in the house was incredibly beautiful!  Check out this fireplace in the dining room:

I also have a thing for staircases.

 This was part of the exhibit of Women Writers that's on display in the upstairs rooms of the house.

Another gorgeous fireplace:

The windows upstairs had heraldic crests of each of the owners of the estate.

Our tour ended in the Chawton House Library, back downstairs.  We technically were not supposed to take photos in the library, but just picture a room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on three of the four walls!  I could have spent hours in there.

We also had a brief time to explore the church on the property.  Jane's mother and sister are buried in the graveyard there.

The graves of Jane Austen's mother and sister:

I was already enjoying the view of one of the outbuildings on the estate:  

And then Heather walked into frame and made it look even more charming:

No, I don't see any anachronisms.  Do you? 

We stopped for lunch in the village near the Jane Austen House museum.  Most of our party went to a local pub, but four of us wanted tea and found an adorable little tea shop:

Sherrie, Ann, Chantel, me
I loved the teacups hanging from the ceiling!

After lunch we reconvened at the Jane Austen House Museum, which was a house that Edward gave to his mother and sisters to live in after his father died in Bath.  It is well preserved/restored to close to what it would have looked like while they were living there.

I didn't get any photos of the outside, because it was raining and I forgot, but here are some interior shots:

This is Jane Austen's actual writing table!

She wrote many of her novels when she lived in Chawton, and this is where she sat!

Heather naturally also  needed photographic proof of "I was there!"

And she was gracious enough to take photos of me next to it!

As lovely as the inside of the house was, the gardens outside were still more charming!

I got a fellow traveler to take some photos for me, in between bouts of drizzly rain:

And I got some decent photos of a thatched roof, finally!

I loved the detail along the ridge!

This was a ceramic cat, I'm guessing to keep birds away:

I loved seeing all of the beautiful English flowers:

Bumblebee butt!

From Chawton we traveled to Winchester, to visit the cathedral where Jane Austen is buried.  A few of us broke off from the main group, and Chantel and I went exploring and found this cute little park:

Chantel was kind enough to take some photos of me strolling through the garden:

I can't help taking photos of flowers.  I just can't.

Also I only know one way to pose with flowers:

Then we caught up with the rest of the group at Winchester Cathedral, which we had to walk around because we approached it from the rear:

It is really big, you guys.

Like, it just goes on forever!

But we finally made it around to the front, and reconnected with our group.  The front is quite impressive:

I think most people had toured inside, but I did not feel the need to.  I did get a shot with Heather in front of the doors, though:

Flying buttresses make excellent photo opportunities:

Then we took a quick walk to the house where Jane Austen died, and of course Heather and I had to pose in lament:

We did not go in the house, as I don't think it's open to the public.  And anyway, it was time to get back on the coach and get home to Bath.  So ended Day Two of our tour.