A flashback to Jane Austen’s garden

A regular reader of this blog might know our affection for Jane Austen. We began our very first post, more than 10 years ago, with one of her quotes. And she does pop up here from time to time.

With the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death (aged just 41) coming on July 18th, 2017’s arrival flooded my social media with news of celebrations. Great idea for a post in July, I’d thought. But then Frank Churchill in Emma whispered, “Why not seize the pleasure at once!”

So I subject you now to a travelogue from our 2008 visit to Jane Austen’s House Museum. Just a few pictures. To borrow from Austen: A woman who felt less might have photographed more.

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The side garden of Chawton Cottage in July 2008
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Picturesque Chawton Village, on the way to “our Jane’s”

Above, Austen-fans-in-training, aka the cousins: Sarah’s son Julian and Helen’s daughter Betsy. Years later, he has a degree in English (and Philosophy) and she lives in the U.K. So maybe their mums did inspire something by dragging them off to historic literary spots. (In London, we also haunted Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury.)

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Sarah examines a snippet of what was once a large kitchen garden near the bakehouse and “offices” in JA’s day.

The link I posted to the museum lets you read about the gardens. Wish I could turn back the clock and take more pictures. What we saw was a remnant of a much larger garden – especially the kitchen garden, in which Jane’s mother took a special interest. Just like today, the Austen women needed to stretch a relatively small income a long way by growing their own.

Jane Austen’s everyday views. The shot at left looks out the window of the bedroom she shared with her sister Cassandra. Time has erased my memory of where the other window was – the stairwell or attic bedroom next door? Simple bouquets include flowers from the garden.

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Hastily taken illicit shot of Austen’s writing table. One of many online, from what I’ve seen. But ours.

It was thrilling and humbling to tread the squeaky floors where Austen had walked, and see the actual place where she’d composed and revised the novels I’ve re-read so often.

Two hundred years since her death is a sad and solemn anniversary to celebrate. But I’ll again invoke Austen and let other pens dwell on that.

3 comments

  1. You weren’t very far from the garden (West Green House) who’s online PR I look after. Whenever I go there, I always pass a sign which tells me I’m entering Jane Austen country, which is rather a thrill. We’re also near Jane Austen country here too, as we live near Bath. I always think of her when I walk through Sydney Gardens as ahe lived close by and must of frequented it when it was a pleasure garden with all kinds of attractions.

  2. We were in Bath on that same trip, VP, and visited the Jane Austen museum there. We also had tea in the Octagon Room (and drank the waters at the Baths). I thought of Anne Elliot as we walked down Milsom Street. Yes, I am a fan.

    1. We read Persuasion in book club last November. It was quite strange reading of Milsom Street and other familiar locations in Bath. It was interesting that one area described as being a poor neighbourhood is now one of the posher parts of the city.

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