Last week on the anniversary of Jane Austen’s Birthday we toured the ground floor of her Chawton home, now the Jane Austen House Museum. Shall we now mount these small stairs to visit the upstairs rooms? It’s allowed…Yes, let’s…
On the way up we pass this window looking out onto the Bakehouse and the garden to the rear of the house.
The central corridor leads you towards three rooms on the left and two rooms on the right. Let’s go first left…..
and into a room full (full!) of Austen family relics.
This fine portrait of John Austen hangs in pride of place over the fireplace. He was Jane Austen’s great- great- grandfather,and was remembered in the family for his miserly treatment of his windowed daughter…shades of Sense and Sensibility.
There are so many treasures in this room, I’ve decided to show you only a few…….this post will be long enough as it is and you are all busy people….
One of the most touching treasures is a small lock of the Reverend George Austen’s hair, taken after his death in Bath in 1805, and kept in a small parcel of paper labelled by Jane Austen as “My father’s hair”…
A book of Jane’s eldest brother, James’ poetry, in his own hand
Jane’s ivory cup and ball, at which she was very skilled, and some ivory spillikins,again a dexterous game at which she excelled….
Some baby’s caps……familiar items to the lady below…..
Susannah Sackree, “Caky”, the nursemaid to Edward Austen Knight’s children at Godmersham…..
…and a copy of her prayerbook….bound in red leather…
Silhouettes of General and Lady Jane Matthews, the parents of Anne Matthews who was James Austen’s first wife and mother to Anna Austen.
The wonderful receipt book of Martha Lloyd, completed in many different hands…..
Jane Austen’s copy of Mentoria,which she remembered when writing Mansfield Park.
Into the room opposite, facing the garden and not the road…..
With a short exhibit explaining all the different houses where Jane Austen lived in Hampshire and Bath
And glass cases holding more treasure….The needlecase which Jane Austen made for her niece, Louisa
Eliza de Feuillide’s rouge pot, a deliciously tiny porcelain pot decorated in gilt on a dark blue ground
A soft cream silk shawl,an expensive gift to Jane from Mrs Catherine Knight, Edward Austen’s adoptive mother ….
Then to another room across the corridor, overlooking the road, dedicated to the naval brothers….
With Frank Austen’s collapsible cabin bed…..
All neat , ship-shape and Bristol Fashion…..
As he was thought to be the insportaion for Captain Harville in Persuasion, some of his handiwork is on show…..
including a carved writing case thought to have been made by him…
All overlooked by his Admiral, Horatio Nelson, shown here in a commemorative plate dating from 1805.
Then into a tiny adjoining room that is kept in darkness for its contents are very precious. As you walk in a light is automatically switched on and you see the quilt Jane Austen made with her mother and Cassandra
Have you remembered to collect pieces for the patchwork? We are now at a stand-still.
The window at the end of the corridor looks out onto the garden….
and to the road leading to Edward’s home,Chawton House…..
and the Winchester road…….the finger post marking the way….
But if we retrace our steps back along the corridor, we reach a special bedroom….
Jane’s Room, the room she shared with Cassandra from 1809 till she moved to Winchester in July 1817.
Here is a replica of one of the two beds that Mr Austen ordered for Cassandra and Jane in 1794 while they were still living at Steventon, and which has recently been installed at the museum.
The room faces the garden and looks down onto the bakehouse….which you can see with its open door below.
The closet contains a wash bowl and ewer
And the small fireplace has been decked out for the Christmas season….
A whited spotted muslin dress is on show here
A woman can never be too fine while she is in all white
Here is a short video of the room, which give you some idea of its dimensions, I think.
I do hope you enjoyed this second part of the tour. Next, the Gardens and Outbuildings.