Four of Hampshire’s finest heritage attractions have come together in partnership to promote and support one another in this beautiful and historic corner of Hampshire. The Heritage Collection includes Jane Austen’s intimate home in the tiny village of Chawton, her brother’s Elizabethan manor house and parkland (now Chawton House Library) just a short walk away, Gilbert White’s beautiful house and thirty-acre garden in delightful Selborne, and the Old Museum and Physic Garden in the ancient town of Petersfield.
Hampshire’s South Downs – with its steep wooded slopes, picture-perfect villages and peaceful market towns – is one of the loveliest parts of rural England. This is the landscape that inspired some of England’s greatest writers – among them world-famous Jane Austen, pioneering eighteenth-century naturalist Gilbert White, and first world war poet, Edward Thomas.
These few square miles of England’s newest national park contain a natural network of historic places, people and stories – criss-crossing connections from the past that can be retraced on foot across the downlands and hidden valleys, or by road from village to village, through lovely scenery that has hardly changed for hundreds of years.
Concentrating on education and heritage, the charity holds a unique collection of early women’s writing circa 1600 – 1830. We offer readers the chance to research and engage with a wealth of texts in the inspiring setting of Chawton House, where the historic location and rural tranquillity contextualise and complement the material.
Today, the Library has three interwoven aims linking education, heritage and conservation. It aims to educate the public about early English women writers and their relevance today; to preserve Chawton House, collections and grounds as part of local and national heritage; and to manage an organic, working estate along eighteenth-century principles.
Discover three fascinating stories about explorers of the Natural World……
Rev. Gilbert White, 18th century naturalist is remembered as the first ecologist and author of the world famous book The Natural History of Selborne. Explore his home which is set in 25 acres of restored gardens and ancient parkland, situated beneath the beech-clad ‘Hanger’.
Learn about the fascinating travels of Frank Oates, a 19th century explorer who was one of the first Europeans to journey to Africa and theAmericas. Marvel at his fabulous collection of birds, animals and African weapons.
2012 marks the centenary of the death of Antarctic Hero Captain Lawrence Oates, who travelled the epic journey to the South Pole in 1911-12 with Captain Scott. He is remembered for his sacrificing his life with the famous last words ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’ See the permenant exhibition dedicated to him.
Jane Austen is one of the most popular and important novelists that England has ever produced. The house at Chawton is where she spent the last eight years of her life. It is of international importance as the place where she did the majority of her mature writing, but at the same time retains the charm of a village home. A 17th century house, it tells the story of Jane Austen and her family.
Revised at this house: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility & Northanger Abbey. Written entirely at this house: Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion.
From a literary perspective, the House provides an insight into the life of a writer of her time – a life that is to this day slightly enigmatic.
Petersfield Museum and the Flora Twort Gallery hold exhibitions on local history, historic costume, and work by the local artist Flora Twort.
The displays are made up from social, industrial and agricultural artefacts and archives.