Our outing this year took in two places associated with Jane Austen. Chawton House, situated at the other end of the village from Jane’s home, was the home of her brother Edward Austen Knight and was always referred to by her as the ‘big house.’
We were warmly welcomed by our knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, Ruth, whose obvious love for the house and its history shone through. We learned that in recent years the house was bought by American millionaire Sandra Lerner, who donated her vast collection of books and set it up as a centre for the stury of early English women’s writing.
The house itself in its magnificent parkland setting was interesting enough but the paintings and books – especially the books- gave an added interest to a literary group.
After the tour it was on to Winchester where we were free to follow our own interests. Some of us visited the Cathedral with its two very different memorials to Jane Austen – one extolling her Christian virtues, the other put up much later, recalling her literary achievements as one of our best-loved writers. Others walked up the steep hill to view the house where she died.