“But now, let us go and sit down . . . and enjoy ourselves.”
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
This month, we are pleased to announce that thanks to the wonderful support of the North American Friends of Chawton House (NAFCH), we have received the final 17 benches donated through the ‘Share a Bench with Jane’ scheme, just in time for our Spring Flowers season. Although the recent storms have caused significant damage to parts of the estate, these latest additions mean that visitors to Chawton House will still be able to rest among the spectacular displays of snowdrops and daffodils as we move into a warmer season.
Our Jane Austen trail, also made possible by NAFCH, has become increasingly popular in recent years. The benches will now ensure that visitors can enjoy reading quotations selected from her letters and novels on the trail, but can also take time to enjoy the views once enjoyed by Jane herself, helping to keep our rich history alive and accessible to all.
The beautiful and highly durable benches have been made in the style of Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), who was a friend of our very own Montagu Knight, and who had a significant influence on the gardens at Chawton House, designing the Lower Library Terrace in the early twentieth century. Sponsors for each bench have selected quotations from books found in the Chawton House library collection, and these will be mounted in the coming months, drawing together our Gardens, House and Collections.
For views from all of the benches, please see the NAFCH campaign page.
We are grateful for the extraordinary support and generosity of our North American Friends in realising this project, and look forward to welcoming them back to Chawton House as the world begins to open up again.