I’m going to interrupt our series on the Brighton Pavilion for a moment, because today I’ve been made aware, via my alert conveyancing solicitor of a husband, that a property which has strong associations with Jane Austen is currently for sale.

This house, above, in Ibthorpe Hampshire,  was the home of the Lloyds, who were, of course, great friends with the Austen family.  Mrs Lloyd, the widowed mother of Mary Lloyd, James Austen’s second wife and of Martha Lloyd, who was Jane and Cassandra Austen’s great friend, all lived there from 1792 until the death of Mrs Lloyd in 1805.  The house is now for sale with the agents, Frank Knight, at a guide price of £3.5 million.Go here to see all the details.

The house has many, many associations with Jane Austen.When she lived at Steventon she would often visit the Lloyds at Ibthorpe, travelling sometimes on her own via the nearby town of Andover, and it is mentioned in many of her letters. The Lloyd’s lodger , Mrs Stent, poor deaf Mrs Stent,  was often remarked upon too.

“Poor Mrs. Stent! it has been her lot to be always in the way; but we must be merciful, for perhaps in time we may come to be Mrs. Stents ourselves, unequal to anything & unwelcome by everybody”

And of course it was from Ibthorpe that a young Jane Austen made her debut into society in 1792.  She was staying at Ibthorpe with the Lloyds when she attended her first dance as an adult at Enham House near Andover.

I was lucky enough to visit this house in 2006,and have lunch there in the company of friends, all courtesy of the house’s most generous present owner, Sabina ffrench Blake. Mrs. ffrenchBlake was very proud of her home’s association with Jane Austen and was very welcoming and gracious to others who had a genuine interest in seeing  a place with such happy associations with our favourite author.

She was convinced that it was in the quiet of Ibthorpe, away from the hurly burly of life at the rectory at Steventon, with all the Austen family and their troop of live- in scholars, that Jane Austen would find the peace she needed to compose her early works. Mrs. ffrench Blake would show the dining room, below, which in Jane Austen’s time served as the sitting room,

and, of course the bedroom, seen below, where Jane Austen stayed while she visited the Lloyds.

The house has other literary associations, notably with the Bloomsbury set. The artist, Dora Carrington lived there before the first World War and used this tiny garden building, below in one of my photographs, as her studio.

She lived there with the writer, Lytton Strachey and was often visited by other writers associated with the Bloomsbury set, notably Vita Sackville West and Virginia Woolf. Mrs. ffrench Blake related to me an interesting anecdote told to her by Nigel Nicholson, who was the son of  Vita and Harold Nicholson. While visiting Dora there with his mother, aged about 8, he had been interrogated by Virginia Woolf and Dora Carrington as to what he was going to do with his life.  He coud hardly think of any profession, so formidable were the women asking him the questions!

Yet another property I wish I could buy…Ah, well….let’s hope the next owner is just as  welcoming to Jane Austen aficionados.