I had a great time! I may not have stayed for the entire week, but I always love Alton and Chawton and this time was no different! Jane Austen Regency Week is always the third week of June, so if you travel that Friday before to get there a day early, be careful of the traffic on the M25. It’s usually dreadful, but during the Royal Ascot, it’s worse. My trip was extended by an hour and fifteen minutes due to a wreck prior to the M25 and the traffic on the M25.
Alton and Chawton are in the beautiful county of Hampshire. It’s easy to see why Jane Austen would choose to live in this part of the country when her brother gave her the choice. Chawton is idyllic and the old, beautiful cottages teeming with flowers in the gardens and roses trailing up the brick walls always renders me speechless. I love this part of England!
Regency Week always kicks off with a Regency Day and this year was no different. Attractions included stalls, petting animals, musicians, maypole dancers, and people dressed in Regency wardrobes. I manned the Austen Variations stall on my own this year, selling copies of my books as well as those of Maria Grace. I handed out free goodie-bags and even held a drawing for some great Austen related gifts.
I shared my stall with Martyn Dell, a trustee for Jane Austen House Museum, and Jane Hurst, who is a local historian. I don’t think I ever lacked for conversation when I wasn’t talking with passers-by.
Saturday night, I attended the Regency Ball. I don’t have any pictures of myself this year, but I did manage to dance. Joana Starnes has video of the rare occurrence, if you are really curious. I will warn you it wasn’t my best dance. You were supposed to beckon your partner, and I found it awkward with a woman I barely knew. Fortunately, she had a sense of humour about it. 🙂
Sunday, I set off for Chawton to browse in the antique and crafts fair as well as sight-see. The shire horses from Chawton House Library were gorgeous as they were led through the village and the gardens at Jane Austen House Museum are lovely this time of year. I did stop by the museum to donate copies of my books to the reading room. I’m so excited to have my books there! If you’re in the area, make sure you stop by to see the Prince Regent’s copy of Emma as well as the newly acquired “Sermon’s Scrap!”
I also finally made it into Chawton House and got to see the library. The house itself is so interesting and full of family history with the stained glass windows as well as the occasional exhibit inside. The library is incredible to see (I would love to spend a few hours browsing!), and the gardens were interesting and pretty. Tea at Cassandra’s cup rounded out my day in Chawton before I walked back to Alton.
Monday rained, unfortunately. I had hoped to drive to Winchester for the cathedral, but just couldn’t bring myself to set off in the much and wet. Instead, I had a lazy day before having a wonderful visit with Cassandra Grafton and acting as last-minute fill-in for Maria Grace’s talk.
I wish I could’ve stayed longer, but it was a busy time and I needed to get home.
Huge thanks to Joan at St. Mary’s Hall! You’re the best, hon!
I’ll cover Chawton House in more detail in the next post 🙂