Jane Austen is my favorite author. During her relatively short life (she died in 1817 at the age of 41), she wrote six complete novels that have stood the test of time. They are more beloved now than when they were first published and continue to inspire film adaptations and scores of fan fiction.
When I planned a trip to England, visiting some Jane Austen sites was very high on my priority list. If you are a fellow Austenite, I hope you will enjoy reading about the places I recommend visiting.
1. Jane Austen’s House, Chawton, Hampshire
If you forced me to pick only one place for Jane Austen fans to visit on a trip to England, it would be Jane Austen’s House in the village of Chawton in Hampshire because this is where she lived while writing and publishing her novels.
Nestled in the charming village of Chawton in Hampshire, England, this modest brick house turned museum, draped with lush ivy, is a testament to the genius of one of the greatest writers of the English language. Jane Austen lived in this cottage from 1809 to 1817. The house was provided by Jane’s wealthy brother Edward to his mother and sisters after Jane’s father died.
The house has been meticulously preserved as a slice of Regency-era life that gave me insight into Jane’s daily life. I walked the same wooden floors and viewed the same peaceful meadows that Jane did. The house even has wallpaper that was recreated using fragments that date from when the Austens lived there. The tranquil setting carries the hint of the quiet lifestyle that served as a canvas for Jane Austen’s vibrant characters.
There are several exhibits about Jane and her family, including portraits of family members and letters. I already knew that Jane was close with her sister Cassandra, but I learned more about their relationship. Other exhibits include personal belongings including a quilt and Jane’s donkey carriage.
And, of course, there are many exhibits about her books including first-edition books, book illustrations, and information about film adaptations. I was fascinated by a timeline showing historic events, literary landmarks, and events in Jane Austen’s life.
The highlight, though, was seeing the small writing table where Austen penned and revised books that were destined to become classics.
I strongly recommend soaking in the sense of history and creative inspiration that permeates the air in Jane Austen’s House. It’s an experience that transports you back in time and directly into the pages of Austen’s enduring novels.
If you are interested and time permits, there is a Jane Austen Trail from Chawton to the nearby village of Alton. You can see the homes and businesses that Jane visited. We didn’t have time for the full trail, but we did walk to Chawton House where Jane’s brother Edward lived, and saw the graves of Jane’s mother and sister in the churchyard.
2. St. Nicholas Church, Steventon, Hampshire
About 15 miles from Chawton is the tiny village of Steventon, where Jane Austen was born in 1775 and lived until she was 25 years old. She wrote drafts of her earliest novels here.
Her father was the rector in the small parish of St. Nicholas. While the original rectory no longer stands, the serene beauty of the countryside that inspired her early writings continues to thrive. I wanted to see the 12th-century St. Nicholas Church and the surrounding countryside, so we made the drive to Steventon along narrow country lanes. It was worth it to me to see the place that was influential in the life of Jane Austen.
3. Jane Austen Centre, Bath
Situated in a charming Georgian townhouse in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath, the Jane Austen Centre offers an immersive look into Jane Austen’s presence and works during her time in Bath.
Jane and her family moved to Bath in 1801, after her father retired. He died a few years later, but Jane, along with her mother and sister, stayed in Bath until 1806. Her experiences in Bath served as rich material for her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
At the Jane Austen Centre, visitors are greeted by guides in Regency-era attire. We were greeted by Emma and Mr. Knightley. Before touring the centre, we had reservations for tea at the Regency Tea Room.
The centre has several exhibits that provide fascinating insights into Jane Austen’s life, her family, and her writings. The exhibits were different than those at the museum in Chawton and did not feel redundant at all. I enjoyed exhibits about income during that time period and costumes from film adaptations.
The centre doesn’t just offer history; it’s an engaging homage to the author’s influence on literature, presented in an environment she knew well. I enthusiastically endorse experiencing this slice of literary history.
Inside the centre, you will find addresses of buildings in Bath where Jane lived or spent time, if you are inclined to visit more places.
4. Royal Crescent, Bath
The Royal Crescent in Bath is a sweeping segment of thirty terraced houses arranged in a crescent. It is an icon of Bath that epitomizes the grandeur of Georgian architecture.
The Crescent is a notable landmark that is mentioned several times in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Its grandeur also provides insight into the setting of Persuasion even though Sir Walter Elliott chose Camden Place (another crescent-shaped building) for his residence. The Royal Crescent makes an appearance in some of the film adaptations of Persuasion. In the 2006 adaptation, Anne Elliott, portrayed by Sally Hawkins, chases after Captain Frederick Wentworth, portrayed by Rupert Penry-Evans, along the Royal Crescent and they kiss on the street. The Royal Crescent also stands in for Camden Place in the 2022 Netflix version.
Today, as you soak in the magnificent facades of the Royal Crescent, you can imagine the bustling scenes of Austen’s stories, resplendent with Regency-era fashion, genteel manners, and elaborate social customs.
If you’d like to see the inside, visit the museum at No. 1 Royal Crescent. The time period depicted is 1776-1796, just a few years before the time when Jane Austen lived there. (And although this is an article about Jane Austen, I will mention that this is also the filming location of the Featherington family’s home on the Bridgerton TV series.) There’s a multimedia presentation that tells a story as you walk through the different rooms in the house.
An even better way to experience the grandeur of the Royal Crescent is to stay at the hotel there. That’s what we did. We could walk to wherever we wanted to go in Bath and we had a lovely view of the private gardens behind the Royal Crescent.
5. Lyme Park, Cheshire
For any ardent Jane Austen fan, a visit to Lyme Park in Cheshire, England is bound to cause heart palpitations – and for good reason. This magnificent estate served as the backdrop for Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s residence, in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
Remember the iconic scene where Colin Firth, embodying the oh-so-dashing Mr. Darcy, dives into the lake? That was filmed here.
As we explored this grand country house with its elegant gardens and vast parkland, it was easy to imagine Elizabeth’s first visit to Pemberley and understand why Lyme Park was chosen by the filmmakers to represent the exterior of Pemberley. (The interior was filmed elsewhere.)
“Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”
We enjoyed walking through the lush gardens and admiring the lake.
As a travel advisor, I highly encourage Austen aficionados to experience this slice of on-screen Austenite history – it’s an immersion into the grandeur and romance of Austen’s world brought to life. In their gift shop, I purchased a book detailing other filming locations for Jane Austen adaptations. I’d love to visit more on another trip, but Pemberley was at the top of my list.
Are you ready for your own trip to England?
If you are a Jane Austen fan and would love to see these places yourself, please get in touch. I would love to help make all your Jane Austen dreams come true by crafting a Jane Austen tour of England just for you. Not a Jane Austen fan? No problem. One of the best parts of working with a travel advisor is that we can customize trips for our clients. I can help make a trip to England the trip of YOUR dreams. Read about how my services work.