Saturday, 27 April 2013
Lindsay Townsend: Two interesting literary houses and a lovely museum
Chawton is a delightful country village, close to the market town of Alton. The manor house where Jane Austen's brother Edward sometimes lived lies a short walk away and Jane knew it well. Her sister and mother are buried close by, in the grounds of St Nicholas' Church, and you can see their well-tended graves.
The cottage where Jane lived with her sister Cassandra and her mother and where she revised Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice and wrote Mansfield Part, Emma and Persuasion, is airy and spacious with beautiful gardens. Inside you can see the tiny table on which Jane wrote her novels. Chawton itself was within walking or donkey-cart distance of Alton and a surprisingly bustling place in Jane's time since the main coach road ran through the village.
he house of the naturalist Gilbert White is larger, with extensive gardens. You can see his study and writing desk. I would have liked to have walked up the Hanger on the path Gilbert White made but sadly could not - I had a chest infection and was too ill. But an interesting visit, nonetheless.
Alton Museum. This is a wonderful place, full of fascinating exhibits dating from the Stone Age onwards. Being especially intrigued by the Middle Ages, I loved the Anglo-Saxon gold Alton buckle. This had obviously a much-treasured item, as it had been carefully repaired. [Picture from Hampshire Council's pages for Alton Museum.]