Category Archives: News

First ever fun ride at Chawton House Library – Sunday 21st September

Shire horse at Chawton House LibraryChawton House Library is delighted to announce its first ever fun ride around our magnificent historic Estate and Parkland on Sunday 21st September. For just £12.50, this is a rare chance to hack through over 6 miles of beautiful and normally restricted farmland with cross country jumps for the more experienced rider.  The first riders will start at 10 a.m. and the last at 1.30 p.m. You have the opportunity to request start times when booking.

Refreshments will be available all day from the Old Kitchen and the gardens will be open from 10.00a.m. – 3.00p.m., with free entry for riders and their helpers.  The first ever fun ride at Chawton House Library will be a fantastic day out for horse and rider and all proceeds from the event will go towards the upkeep of our five heavy horses and their training in traditional agricultural methods.

 No Horses under 4yrs old, No unaccompanied child under 8yrs old.

Please note that other than the Old Kitchen, the main house will not be open.

Book online here or ring Chawton House Library Direct: 01240 541010

‘The Writer’s Garden’: Talk, Book Signing & Garden Tour

The Writer's Garden - book by Jackie BennettTalk, Book Signing and Garden Tour-Wednesday 3rd September 

In the idyllic setting of Chawton House Library, Jackie Bennett will give an illustrated talk on her new book, The Writer’s Garden; How gardens inspired our best-loved authors.    


This is an opportunity to follow in Jane Austen’s literary and gardening footsteps and trace her journey from her childhood smallholding in Steventon, Hampshire, to the grounds of Godmersham in Kent and finally to the village of Chawton.


With readings from Austen’s novels and letters, this talk will reveal how gardens, including the beautiful grounds in listed historic parkland here at Chawton House Library, found their way into her work.

Jackie Bennett is a garden writer and historian.  Her new book explores the lives, landscapes and gardens of 20 of our best-loved authors.  Copies will be available from Chawton House Library on the day for the exclusive price of £20 (RRP £25).

11.00 a.m. Tea, coffee and cake served in the Old Kitchen

11:30 a.m. Talk, followed by the opportunity to purchase a copy of the book and have it personally signed by the author.

12:30 p.m. Tour of the Chawton House Library gardens with Head Gardener Alan Bird (please bring appropriate footwear.).

Tickets: Adult: £11, Students/Friends: £8.50

Book tickets online or ring Chawton House Library direct on 01420 541010

Jane Austen at Home – Saturday 4th October 2014

Jane Austen at Home - a costumed recital-performance of extracts from the writings of Jane AustenA costumed recital-performance of extracts from the writings of Jane Austen

Chawton House Library hosts a charming and delightful performance that celebrates the variety and wit of Jane Austen’s writings. Comprised from fascinating extracts from her memoirs, letters, juvenilia, poetry and novels, you will be drawn into the world of those who lived in country houses in the early 1800s. The piece captures Austen’s intelligence and warm-heartedness and exhibits much of her perceptive and often satirical observation of the social life of English country families.

Jane Austen at Home is performed by the captivating Emerald O’Hanrahan; the voice of Emma in The Archers, graduate of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and winner of the Carleton Hobbs competition. The performance is produced by Jeremy Musson; author, broadcaster and historic buildings expert and is devised by Stephan Siddall who has directed for BBC2 and the Cambridge Arts Theatre.

“Emerald O’Hanrahan held the audience spell-bound. It is a performance full of light and shade. She takes us from Jane Austen at her lightest through to heart-rending sadness. It is a wonderful show.”
Derek Matravers, Professor of Philosophy, Open University 

1:30 p.m. tea, coffee and cake
2.00 p.m. performance
3:45 p.m. finish

6.15 p.m. wine and canapés in the Old Kitchen
6:45 p.m. performance
8:30 p.m. finish

Tickets (including refreshments):
Adult £15.00
Students/Friends: £12.50

Book tickets online or ring Chawton House Library direct on 01420 541010


George Rice Smith appointed first artist-in-residence

An aspiring local artist has been appointed as Chawton House Library’s first ever artist-in-residence.

George Rice-Smith from Alton will spend the next three months creating drawings and paintings inspired by the architecture and landscape of the house and grounds that once belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight. He will also look to the charity’s collection of early English women’s writing from 1600 to 1830 for ideas, including works by Jane Austen and Mary Shelley.

Read the full press release here.

CEO bids farewell to Chawton

After six and a half years at the helm, CEO Steve Lawrence is sadly leaving Chawton House Library. Read his blog here.

Talk and Afternoon Tea, Wednesday 11th June 2014

Talk and Afternoon Tea, ‘War Girls’ with Ruth Sillers

Ruth Sillers, who began her career with the National Youth Theatre and reads regularly for Radio 4 and the BBC world service, will be talking about and performing extracts from her own audiobook compilation, War Girls. The study is a commemoration of the remarkable and largely unsung experiences of women in the First World War told in their own words. Some are the writings of well-known poets and novelists, but many more are the stories of ordinary women living in extraordinary times. These are stories not just of hardship and suffering but joy and excitement at the new opportunities opening up for women.

2.00 p.m. Talk, 3.00 p.m. Afternoon tea.

Tickets £11; Students / Friends £8.50

Book tickets online or ring the library direct: 01420 541010


Jane Austen Short Story Award 2014

Short List Announced

The selection of those who have made it through to the third stage of the competition – the ‘Shortlist’ – has been made. Congratulations to these entrants. The winner, runners-up and finalists will be announced on July 18 2014.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story. The competition attracted entries from all over the world, from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, Canada and the USA. The standard was particularly high this year, which led to some tough decisions in selecting a shortlist.

The short list:

Anne Thomas – The Power of Nurse Rooke
Christina Acosta – The Fall
Claire Girvan – The Nemesis of Meryton
Deirdre Maher – Gorgeous George
Eithne Cullen – Benwick’s Tale
Elisabeth Lenckos – Mary Crawford’s Last Letter
Emily Ruth Verona – Forgotten Things
Fiona Skepper – Farewell Lady Catherine
Janet Lee – Mary’s Silver Knife
Jocelyn Watson – The Tell-Tale Signs
Judith Hemington – Eyes Opened
Kristin Celms – The Altar
Leslie McMurtry -Five Theories
Lucy Yates – Money the Hard Way
Marian Ford – The Austen Factor
Mary Fitzpatrick – My Name is Catherine Burrows
Marybeth Ihle – Ladies of England
Moz Walls – Taking the Cure
Pamela Holmes – The Wedding Planner
Penelope Randall – Mary Bennet and the i-phone
Price W. Grisham – Candour
Sandy Norris – All at Sea
Sarah Baillie – A Thing of Beauty
Sarah Shaw – Romance and Rehydration
Susan Piper – The Grey Lady

From these entries 20 will be selected for publication. The first prize winner and two runners-up will be chosen from amongst the successful entries. The results will be announced on 18 July 2014.

Evening Lecture – Friday 6th June 2014

Evening talk and book launch with Deirdre Le Faye, Friday 6th June 2014

‘Jane loved the country, and her delight in natural scenery was such that she would sometimes say she thought it must form one of the joys of heaven’

Deirdre Le Faye will launch her new book with a talk and book signing here at Chawton House Library, set in the idyllic Hampshire countryside that inspired Jane Austen in many of her greatest works.  Richly illustrated with contemporary depictions of country folk, landscapes and animals, Deirdre Le Faye’s Jane Austen’s Country Life conjures up a world which has vanished more thoroughly than the familiar Regency townscapes of Bath or London, but which is no less important to an understanding of the life and work of this most treasured writer.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from one of the world’s leading authorities on the life and times of Jane Austen.  Deirdre is a Patron and longstanding supporter of Chawton House Library and recently donated her collection of research and books on Jane Austen to the Library.  Apart from Austen’s letters and the novels themselves, her new book also draws on other Austen family manuscripts, as yet unpublished, which provide particular and unique information.

6.30 p.m. Welcome by Chawton House heavy horse in traditional plough harness, sheep and hens, plus the opportunity to meet our Head Horseman Mrs. Angie Mclaren.  Drinks and canapés will also be provided.

7.00 p.m. Talk, followed by the opportunity to purchase a copy of the book and have it personally signed by the author.

Tickets £11; Students / Friends £8.50

Book tickets online or ring the library direct 01420 541010


New legacy giving circle established

On the 27th  April 1817 Jane Austen, at home in Chawton signed her last will and testament. In commemoration of this date, the 1817 Legacy Circle was established on 27th April 2014 in Chawton, as a way to thank those supporters of Chawton House Library who have made a legacy pledge and to encourage more people to do so. Continue reading…..

Evening Talk, Thursday 15th May 2014

‘ “He is a rogue of course, but a civil one”: John Murray, Byron and Jane Austen’. 

Dr Christine Kenyon Jones (King’s College London)

This lecture will compare and contrast the relationships of Lord Byron and Jane Austen with their publisher John Murray.

Dr. Kenyon Jones will discuss how Murray deployed his charm with these two very different authors, while in both cases being rather less than open in his financial dealings with them. She will explore how issues of class affected both relationships, with Byron’s rather precariously-achieved aristocracy and Austen’s hard-held gentility playing off against Murray’s status as tradesman, professional and gentleman; expert, adviser and business partner; servant, colleague and friend.

6.30 p.m. Drinks 7.00 p.m. Talk Tickets £11; Students / Friends £8.50

Book tickets online, or ring the library direct on 01420 541010