|Posted on August 31, 2011 at 2:00 AM|
For many years I’ve been wanting to visit and tour the home of Jane Austen. So, with my husband on vacation from work, we went to Jane Austen’s house museum.
This was the last house Jane lived in. She lived here for eight years before her death in 1817. The house belonged to her brother Edward, and he allowed his then widowed mother and his two sisters to live here. Jane spent those years living in the house with her mother, her sister Cassandra and a friend, Martha Lloyd. Here she wrote or revised much of her work.
While Mrs Austen tended to the gardens and Cassandra saw to the housekeeping, Jane spent her time writing. She revised “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice” which were published in 1811 and 1813. These two books were so successful she was encouraged enough to write “Mansfield Park”, published in 1814 and “Emma” in 1816. She also completed another book, “Persuasion” and started another book “Sanditon”.
In 1816 she became ill so was unable to complete the final book. She left the house in May 1817 when she moved to Winchester where she died two months later on the 18 July 1817. She is buried in the Cathedral in Winchester.
The first room on the tour is the Bakehouse, here I’m standing just inside the doorway. The wooden construction to the right of the door is the well where the family were able to draw pure water. It was dug deep into the chalk earth.
Jane Austen’s donkey carriage stands in the Bakehouse. The Austen’s had two donkeys which they kept in a field at the end of their garden. They only used one donkey at a time to pull the carriage.
Once inside it was easy to appreciate all the “mod-cons” we have these days. It was a basic room where they baked their bread. The photo below shows the oven.
Other items in this room were a stone from the family Rectory, the copper washtub.
From the Bakehouse we walked around the outside of the house, and into the historic kitchen, pictured below.
The kitchen is in the wing at the back of the Austen’s house. Visitors are able to see the inglenook fireplace and the little brick oven. This room has only recently opened for public viewing.
The door to the kitchen is on the left in the above photo.
This is the first part of the tour. It is turning out to be a very long post, so I’ve decided to break it down into a few smaller posts. Please come back next week for the next part. I will take you through the Drawing Room, the Vestibule and the Dining Parlour.