Saturday, April 19, 2008


Chawton, England – Jane Austen’s House
Today was the day that has been planned for a visit to Chawton, and Jane Austen’s House. It was quite as special as I had hoped it would be. Sadly, photography isn’t allowed, exactly, unless it was done discreetly, and without flash. Because those directions were directed toward the comfort of the other guests, I had the opportunity, and I chose just one, her writing table. Imagine, Jane Austen’s own writing table. Unlike most historical sites that I have visited, Jane Austen’s house is filled with her own possessions, her handiwork, her letters, her furniture, and those of her family members. It is informative and very well signed and labeled.
Thinking back on it, now, I find it hard to believe that I was able to be in her house, amongst her things, seeing things somewhat from her perspective. we were able to get a feel for her neighborhood, her village. I can't wait to reread the books now that I have a fresh perspective!
And Mark and Sam are really good sports.
We lunched at the pub across the road, and then made our way back to Winchester intent on finding the cathedral where she is buried. We started out by letting our feet guide us, which is a favorite way to explore, mine, at least. We came upon the most beautiful canal that beckoned us to walk alongside it for a while. We watched a pair of nesting swans. From her perch atop the nest woven from large twigs, She repeatedly warded off overtures from an especially curious river rat, while He hunted for dinner; sometimes searching beneath the overgrowth, occasionally chasing a thrown bread crumb.
A very short distance downriver, just a few inches off of the water was another twiggy nest. I couldn’t identify the species – a little black bird with a red beak and large feet, not webbed. When it’s in the water, it looks similar to a duck, when it’s on land; it looks like a small hen. We saw this same type of bird when we strolled along the canal in Oxford. (Note Added April 29, 2008 - in London, while walking in Green Park and watching the same type of bird, and young lady identified it as a moorhen. It’s nice to be able to put a name to the sweet little birds.)
At the end of the footpath along the canal, the water ran under a building and disappeared through arched, stone tunnels. A sign near said that there has been a mill on that site since the 1200s. We wandered off on another path that ran alongside a massive, beautiful stone wall. Sam found another sign that identified it as the medieval city wall. Can you imagine? Medieval! Very shortly, we came upon the entrance the ruins of Wolvesey Castle. The ruins were just spectacular. More, next time…Sam needs the computer!

Note added October 4, 2010 . . . I have only just been directed to the blog London Calling, who has done a marvelous job of photographing and describing Jane Austen's home and the surrounding neighborhood! You must see! I can not thank him enough for refreshing my memories! I am so, so pleased!

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