THREE GREAT HOUSES, NOW MUSEUMS – HOMES OF AN ECOLOGIST, AN EXPLORER AND AN AUTHOR

Chawton House

Recently awarded £71,200 from the Culture Recovery Fund, this grade ll listed Elizabethan manor house, over 400 years old, is rich with quirky and fascinating features, from graffiti on paintings and ‘witch marks’ on walls, to heraldic stained glass windows and ornately carved fireplaces.

Jane Austen’s brother Edward inherited the house when distant family members Thomas and Catherine Knight, made him their heir. You can see the reading alcove in the Oak Room where Jane liked to sit and family dining table where she dined with her brothers and sisters.

It also houses the exhibition, ‘Man Up!’ by Clio O’Sullivan, where you will discover accounts ranging from female soldiers, pirates and duellists who did not conform to the presumed virtues of their sex, but used their talents and influence to enter those male-dominated spaces thought not to be “the business of a woman’s life.”

There are tearooms for refreshments, you can explore the grounds and parklands, or just relax in the peace and tranquillity of the gardens. For details, visit chawtonhouse.org

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Gilbert White’s House

This is the beautifully restored house and gardens of local natural history hero Gilbert White. The story of his life-long investigation of the natural world is told here within the walls of his family home in Selborne.

The later extensions to the house host The Oates Collections which show the fascinating historic collections of explorer Frank Oates and Lawrence Oates who was part of the fateful Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole.

White’s café offers delicious cakes, or lunch using home grown fruit vegetables and herbs.

For details, visit gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk

Jane Austen’s House

It was in this pretty Hampshire Grade 1 listed cottage that Jane Austen revised, wrote and had published all six of her novels, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Owned by Jane’s brother Edward, she lived here for the last 8 years of her life after moving in with her mother, sister Cassandra and friend Martha Lloyd in 1809.

It now attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. You can see letters written by Jane and personal effects belonging to her and her family, including her jewellery, first editions of her books, furniture, textiles and the table at which she wrote her much loved novels.

For details, visit janeaustens.house

All three houses acknowledge social distancing and must be booked online.