Chawton House reopens for the festive season with a new garden lights trail and Christmas exhibition 

Following the end of England’s second national Lockdown, Chawton House has once again opened its doors to visitors! Celebrating Christmas from December 2, Chawton House will host an exhibition, a series of events and outdoor activities throughout the festive season. Curated by Chief Executive Katie Childs, the exhibition reveals Christmas traditions of the House from times gone by. Learn how the Austen and Knight families celebrated Christmas, and how women writers wrote for and about the festive season. 

Chawton House’s Curator, Emma Yandle, has also created two brand new displays, featuring works from the Knight collection never before exhibited. The library display shows books with handwritten inscriptions, poignantly capturing personal stories: of inheritance and marriage, travel and upheaval, boys’ and girls’ education, and familial bonds. The display in the Long Gallery features books from across Chawton House’s collection given as gifts, offering a tantalising glimpse into past relationships and reading habits 

The house and gardens are open Wednesday to Sundays with winter opening hours of 10am to 3.30pm. 

The gardens at Chawton House will also remain open late from Saturday 12 December to Sunday 3 January for a brand new light up trail. The Glimmering Garden is included with the price of admission. 

The Old Kitchen Tea Room will have a festive menu and the gift shop will be filled with seasonal delights and stocking fillers. 

Please note the House will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

Feel festive with these seasonal events. 

Library Display: Familiar Traces: stories from the Knight family library 

2 December 2020 – 28 February 2021 

Why do we write inside our books? Some motivations are practical, such as including a name to ensure a borrowed book is returned. Other inscriptions function as diary entries, recording the year or place of purchase. If a book is given as a gift, a message is often written inside. These notes can explain how the book was used or how the owner felt about it. By marking the pages, a specific moment in time is captured. 

Included with price of admission 

Long Gallery display: Literary gifts: books given as presents  

2 December 2020 – 3 January 2021 

When a book is given as a gift, a message is often written inside. Our library collection was brought together to tell the story of early women writers, but inscriptions show that many works were originally given as presents. 

Included with price of admission  

Festive treats – from our House to yours

Monday 7 December to Thursday 24 December 

From our House to yours! Enjoy a selection of home-baked goodies from the Old Kitchen Tearoom over the festive period. Choose from a selection of Christmas cupcakes, and sweet or savoury afternoon teas. 

£12.50 per box 

Wreath Making Workshop 

Saturday 12 December, 10.30am-1pm 

Spend a day of creativity in the Hampshire countryside and get ready for Christmas with this 2.5-hour festive wreath workshop. Held in the historic Dyers Barn on the Chawton House estate, this will be a socially-distanced outdoor winter workshop and a wonderful day out with friends. 

£55 per person 

Festive Supper & Ghost Stories for Christmas  

Saturday 12 December, 7pm – 9pm 

Enjoy a seasonal supper in one of the historic rooms at Chawton House, followed by some festively haunting stories by the fireside with costumed performers. 

£50 per head, includes welcome drink, 3-course meal plus performance. 

Online House tour & Directors Q&A 

Monday 14 December, Tuesday 15 December, Sunday 20 December, 7pm – 8.30pm 

As well as running the organisation, Katie curated the special Christmas exhibition on display throughout the house. On this virtual tour, you will discover Christmas traditions of the House from times gone by. Learn how the Austen and Knight families celebrated Christmas, and how women writers wrote for and about the festive season. The online tour will be followed by a live Zoom Q&A. 

Tickets are £5 

An Evening with the Watsons 

Monday 16 December, 3pm – 8pm 

To celebrate Jane Austen’s 245th birthday this year, Chawton House are taking a fresh look at her unfinished work ‘The Watsons’, with an evening of online events.  

Ticket price includes access to two talks and a downloadable copy of the latest Female Spectator. 

Tickets are £10 

Glimmering Garden Torchlit Tour 

Thursday 17 Dec, 6-7.30pm 

Explore Chawton House’s new glowing lights trail after dark and learn about the history of this magnificent landscape.  

£15 per head, includes mulled wine on arrival. 

Spiced Wine in the Glimmering Garden

Friday 18 Dec, Saturday 19 Dec: 6-8pm 

Get into the festive spirit with a delicious mulled wine before exploring the new glowing garden trail after dark.  

£12 per head, includes mulled wine on arrival. 

Virtual Ghost Stories for Christmas by the Chawton House fireside 

Available to watch over Christmas from Monday 21st December 

See off the cold of winter with a cosy night in by the virtual fireside and a chilling festive tale.  

£5 per video 

Walking Women: a Conversation with Kerri Andrews 

Monday 11 January, 7pm – 8.30pm 

The first of Chawton House’s online talks for 2021! Join Kerri Andrews, author ofWanderers: A History of Women Walkingfor this fascinating discussion on women who have, over the past 300 years, found walking essential to their sense of themselves as women, writers and people. 


Tickets are £5