Chawton House launches a special programme of events on all things Gothic!

Chawton House, Hampshire, October 2020. To celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year, Chawton House is launching “Gothic Month”. This special programme is running throughout October, with events to frighten and thrill audiences of all ages. Beginning with exclusive dining in the atmospheric Smoking Room, Gothic Month continues with Wilderness walks in the moonlight, and a brand new garden trail for kids, with willow installations from local artist Judith Needham. This runs during half term and any kids wearing a Halloween costume can visit Chawton House for free!

“Women authors have always been at the vanguard of frightening fiction,” says Chief Executive, Katie Childs. “That’s why we want to celebrate all things Gothic – we’ve got a fantastic collection of women’s writing and we love to share it. We’re producing a catalogue of our 2018 Gothic exhibition, The Art of Freezing the Blood to sell in our gift shop, and our brilliant new podcast series will include a behind-the-scenes Gothic episode, including interviews with our costumed storytellers. To top it off, we’ll also be selling ‘Trick or Treat’ afternoon tea boxes from The Old Kitchen Tearoom for the last week of October.”

Gothic Month concludes with Tales of Terror – costumed ghost stories delivered by the fire and premiering online. Keep up to date with the latest spooky happenings by following #GothicChawton on social media. 

Gothic Supper and ghostly tales

  • Saturday 17 October
  • Saturday 24 October

6-8pm OR 7:30-9:30pm

Book onto one of two exclusive sittings for an evening of private dining followed by ghost stories by the fire in the Great Hall.  Includes a cocktail on arrival (wine sold separately).

Minimum booking number of 4 for each sitting, and maximum of 6. Each group must be from the same bubble.

Includes 3-course meal:

  • Fresh pea soup
  • Slow cooked game meat/veg option with duchess potatoes and baked asparagus
  • Buttered apple tart

£50 per head

Online talk: Of False Hair, Bolstered Hips and Witchcraft: The Act of Parliament that Never Was

Monday 19 October

In this fascinating talk, award-winning speaker Alison Daniell discusses the Matrimonial Act 1770 (or, as it is more commonly known, The Hoops and Heels Act 1770), which ostensibly permitted husbands to divorce wives who had seduced and betrayed them into matrimony by using perfume, make-up, heels and other commonplace beauty aids; the wives were also to ‘incur the penalty of the laws now in force against witchcraft, sorcery, and suchlike misdemeanours’. The catch? It’s a fake law! Join Alison as she discusses some of the cultural factors associating women’s power over men with witchcraft and a mutable female body.

This talk takes place online and will be followed by a live Zoom Q&A.


Wilderness walks in the moonlight

  • Thursday 22 October
  • Wednesday 28 October

Explore the gardens after dark on a guided tour this Halloween. Discover the creatures that only emerge at night and learn about Chawton House’s eerie family history. Bring a torch – things are going to get dark…

£15 per head, includes a hot drink before the tour.

HALF TERM: Gothic Garden Trail

26 October to 1 November

All kids wearing their Halloween costume get to visit for free! Bring little ones dressed as green witches and warlocks to fly around Chawton House’s autumnal gardens this October half-term. Explore the grounds on a brand new ‘Spooky Trail’ featuring witches marks, art installations from Juliet Needham, wicker spiders, giant pumpkins and a visit to the old pet cemetery…

Included in admission price

Halloween Afternoon Tea

Monday 26 October to Saturday 31 October

Collect our special Afternoon Tea boxes from the Old Kitchen Tearoom!

Adult Halloween Afternoon Tea £12.50 per person, includes:

  • Selection of ghoulish finger sandwiches (apple & cream cheese, beetroot & feta, ham & mustard)
  • Cinnamon scone, with jam and clotted cream
  • Cake selection: poison bottle cookie, spiced apple coffin cake, Frankenstein’s monster brownie
  • Hot drink of your choice

Kids Halloween Afternoon Tea £7.50 per person, includes:

  • Bite-size finger sandwiches (strawberry jam, cheddar cheese, tuna mayonnaise)
  • Carrot stick fingers
  • Monster Munch crisps
  • Cheese string ghost
  • Mandarin pumpkin
  • Spider cupcake

Family Deal: £35 for two adult and two kids boxes.

Tales of terror! Gothic Stories by the Virtual Fireside

  • Thursday 29 October
  • Friday 30 October
  • Saturday 31 October

A night to freeze the blood! Taking place online for each night of All Hallows Eve, your costumed host will deliver some of literature’s strangest gothic tales by the fireside. Hear stories written by pioneering writers of horror, strangeness and terror, concluding with the Queen of Gothic herself, Mary ‘Frankenstein’ Shelley.

£5 per event or £12 for all three.

On sale – The Art of Freezing the Blood exhibition catalogue

Our 2018 exhibition, The Art of Freezing the Blood, explored the Gothic inspiration behind two of Britain’s most iconic women writers: Mary Shelley and Jane Austen. Both writers were well-versed in the Gothic horror that shocked and chilled readers during the 1790s, and we introduced visitors to some of the other women writers who perfected curdling the blood and quickening the beatings of the heart. This year as part of our Halloween celebrations, we’ll be sharing some of our Gothic treasures with you in a new catalogue of this exhibition. Find out more about the story of Gothic literature, and explore the treasures held in our reading rooms.

[The catalogue will be available to purchase as a downloadable PDF or as a paperback hard copy]


As the nights draw in, why not start a new hobby or hone a skill with these creative workshops.

Interactive poetry workshops

Wednesday 14 Oct, 5.30pm-6.30pm

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a confident writer looking to take your poetry to the next level, this online class will have something for you. Writer, editor and university lecturer, Sinéad Keegan, will set exercises inspired by the archives at and the history of Chawton House and will run the interactive poetry class.

£10.00 per session.

Creative writing workshop – Cottage to Castle

Saturday 24 October – 11am UK BST

Sunday 25 October – 5pm UK BST

How do you create a realistic home for your characters?

This workshop will provide ideas for evoking atmospheric dwellings, which may not be all they seem. A remote Scottish croft, a chilly apartment, or a gothic mansion? The choice is yours!

£7.50 per session

Photography workshop

Tuesday 13 October


In-house photographer Claire Lewis will guide you to take your photography to the next level. Don’t worry about what type of camera you have, it’s all about enjoying the craft of capturing images! Taking place in the beautiful setting of Chawton House.

£45 (includes 20% discount on lunch from the Old Kitchen takeaway service)