Being back home in Hampshire means I am also reunited with my car! The last time I drove was in September, so it’s been a while. I went for a drive today as I’m driving a friend tomorrow and I didn’t want to be rusty, so I decided to go to Chawton, which is a 20-ish minute drive from where I live.
It’s amazing how the human brain works! I got into the car and was driving with no worries straight away. I had a little more anxiety and tension than usual, but I even braved a bay park and was absolutely fine accelerating through country roads! I’ve missed driving.
Chawton is a little village famous for (mainly) one thing: it is the village in which Jane Austen wrote, edited, and published many of her famous novels, like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I have been to Jane’s house a couple of times before, and today I decided to walk to the opposite end of the village, mainly to see what’s there… but let’s just say, there’s not much.
Alton is a town about two-three miles from Chawton. It’s where my grandparents lived (or, they lived in Four Marks, a village very close by), and it’s also where Jane used to walk every day with her sister Cassandra. If you walk to the end of the village, there’s a plaque that says “Jane Austen Trail”. I Googled it, got up the PDF map, and followed it, under the dual carriage-way and through to the town centre.
The walk took about half an hour and takes you into the centre of Alton. I went into a few shops, sent a letter, bought a book (Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens! I’ve been coveting it for ages!), and went to Costa for lunch (managed to get a drink, toastie and a millionaire’s shortbread for £1.95! Thanks, Costa Card). The walk back seemed longer in some places and shorter in others, but that’s the way of the road.
I went to Jane Austen’s house; well, into the gift shop anyway as I didn’t have time to go around! I bought myself a bookmark & postcard of “Pride and Prejudice”. 2017 is the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death too, so there’s lots of activity on around Hampshire.
And outside… there were SHIRE HORSES! I got quite excited. Turns out that there is a “Chawton Library” which houses exclusive books and is where Jane and Cassandra used to go to balls. It’s only about 10 minutes from her house on foot, and looked so pretty! (Oh, the horses live next to it; that’s their connection to this paragraph.)
Jane Austen’s House
Overall I had a really lovely afternoon, and highly recommend Chawton to any Austen and literary fans. I’ll definitely be going back to revisit the house properly and have tea in Cassandra’s Tea Rooms!