This has been a busy year for us, with staff and volunteers battling the snowy elements in March and welcoming visitors in the sweltering heat over summer. Much has changed, most notably our name, when at the beginning of the year we became Chawton House. We have moved our shop out of the front office into the atrium, and have extended our opening times to seven days a week from March to December. Below we recount some of our favourite moments of 2018.

The NGS Snowdrop Day

Despite the inclement weather, we welcomed over 500 visitors to our NGS Snowdrop Day, with nearly 100 visitors buying a house ticket as well. According to Garden Manager Andrew, we had more snowdrops carpeting the lawn than ever before! In 2019 we are hosting two snowdrop days in February, so don’t miss out on this magical sight.

Snowdrops on our NGS Sunday taken by @farnhamherald

Regency Week

Every year Alton’s Regency Week seems to gain more traction, and 2018 was no exception! All throughout the period, visitors strolled about the house and grounds in their bonnets and petticoats, searching for Mr. Darcy.

Jane comes home

Featured in the local press, a statue of Jane Austen was unveiled at St Nicholas Church here in Chawton. Organised by the Friends of Chawton Church (FOCC), the reception was hosted at Chawton House. It was a poignant event, for though Jane Austen’s remains are at Winchester Cathedral, her mother and sister are buried in the churchyard here. Now, a part of her resides with her family once again.

Statue of Jane Austen

Gothic Tour

On Halloween Night visitors had a chance to explore our gothic exhibition ‘The Art of Freezing the Blood‘ on a sold out tour. A suitable atmoshphere was created with candlelight and cobwebs, with our hosts dressed in Georgian finery. A night to freeze the blood indeed!

Jeremy Knight (right), Caroline Frisby (left)

Christmas Fayre

We were bowled over by the sheer volume of visitors who crossed the threshold for our Christmas Fayre. Almost 1000 visitors browsed 23 stalls, had the chance to meet Santa, play parlour games, decorate shortbread and hear carol singing by the children from Anstey Junior School. The entire house was decorated in traditional festive greenery and we offered free entry to all!

Stalls in Great Hall

Donations of books

Though we cannot claim this as a single moment, all throughout the year we have received donations of books for our library collection. These have varied, and have included works from private collectors such as Sandra Clark, who has for many years demonstrated her generous philanthropy to us. They have also included academic works by scholars and previous visiting fellows who conducted their research here.  It is wonderful to see the proof of the collection’s worth, and we hope to see many more students carrying out research on our women writers for years to come.

Thank you to all our friends and supporters. We hope to see you in the new year!