Chawton house

This is the house where Jane Austen and her family lived for several years. The house was a modest cottage, and I think it must have been the model for the cottage the Dashwoods were exiled to. (Aside: Austen’s portrayal of how the brother disinherits his stepmother and stepsisters is a modern illustration of the process of rationalization and where it takes us. She really was better at human behavior than her current popularity gives her credit for.)

The kitchen: I can’t remember now if this is a replica kitchen or the actual one that cook would use while the Austens were in residence. It’s very similar to the one in the Keeler Tavern, which is from the same era albeit roughly a thousand miles away.

chawton kitchen

Donkey cart that Jane and Cassandra took rides in.

pony cart

I love these. These are pattens, worn to keep ladies’ feet out of the mud. The description talks about how Ann Eliot can’t stand the sound of clacking pattens on the streets of Bath.


“When Lady Russell, not long afterwards, was entering Bath on a wet afternoon, and driving through the long course of streets from the Old Bridge to Camden Place, amidst the dash of other carriages, the heavy rumble of carts and drays, the bawling of newsmen, muffin-men, and milk-men, and the ceaseless clink of pattens, she made no complaint. No, these were noises which belonged to the winter pleasures: her spirits rose under their influence; and like Mrs. Musgrove, she was feeling, though not saying, that after being long in the country, nothing could be so good for her as a little quiet cheerfulness.

Anne did not share these feelings. She persisted in a very determined, though very silent disinclination for Bath; caught the first dim view of the extensive buildings, smoking in rain, without any wish of seeing them better; felt their progress through the streets to be, however disagreeable, yet too rapid; for who would be glad to see her when she arrived?”

costumes from emma

These were costumes from the recent BBC production of Emma. They had costumes and bonnets scattered throughout the house and they were lovely to see up close. I remember these costumes from the production and they look amazing up close. A funny thing happened; there was a sign saying, no pictures of the costumes, so I began to put my camera away. But the docent said, “no it’s all right, you can take photos, just not with a flash.” Cool! So, I bring it out again, checked the settings, and beginning clicking away.

Another visitor, an older lady, told my very sternly, “The sign said no pictures.”

“Oh I know,” I said, “But the museum guide said it was all right, just not with flash.”

“Ah,” she said. “I never should have said anything; I always get in trouble when I do.”

This is Austen’s writing desk; I like to think she sat at this very window while writing her work. She revised and wrote her novels here, and was happiest in this house, it seems. There was a reproduction of a long letter from Cassandra to her niece Fanny on Austen’s death; poor Cassandra. She was devastated and trying to bear up under what must have been a terrible sorrow.

jane's writing desk

Finally, a bright silver teapot and berry spoons. Who doesn’t need a silver teapot and berry spoons? And a butler to polish it all, and count the silver every night. We were in the Victoria & Albert Museum and there’s a whole gallery of silver cutlery from various eras. Shiny! As Wash would say.

silver teapot and berry spoons


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