Celebrating 20 years of Chawton House – 13-16 July
Chawton House invites you to celebrate a remarkable milestone during its Anniversary Weekend! Join us for a weekend filled with literary inspiration and cultural festivities, honouring twenty years of preserving and promoting early women’s writing, alongside our historic house, gardens and parkland. Immerse yourself in fascinating exhibitions, engaging talks by renowned scholars, and vibrant performances set amidst the picturesque backdrop of our historic estate. Indulge in the joy of literature, wander through lush gardens, and revel in the timeless charm of Chawton House. Mark this extraordinary occasion with us as we commemorate two decades of literary heritage and look ahead to a future brimming with inspiration and discovery. Don’t miss this unforgettable weekend celebration at Chawton House, where the words of the past ignite the passions of the present and inspire the creators of tomorrow.
Chawton at 20: In the Library
Showcasing why Chawton House is so unique and special as a cultural institution, this display features objects from the collection that encapsulate our remarkable achievements over the past two decades. Highlights include the oldest original work by a woman in our collection from 1617, Anne Sharp’s copy of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, the highest selling printed work by the author, and an exciting new acquisition soon to be announced.
On display from 15-17 July. Included with admission price.
Thursday 13 July – Celebrating Partnerships
Renowned theatre company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, return to Chawton House for the third year, this time performing Romeo and Juliet – the greatest love story ever told, presented as Shakespeare first saw it in Elizabethan dress and performed by an all-male company. Following last year’s hugely successful performance of As You Like It, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, leading proponents of open-air theatre for almost 20 years, are once again performing against the stunning Jacobean backdrop of Chawton House’s triple-gabled manor on the South Lawn.
Friday 14 July – Celebrating the Collection
For the last two decades, Chawton House Library has been a site of unparalleled research into early women’s writing. The collection is unique, containing an astounding number of works by Jane Austen’s contemporaries and forebears. The University of Southampton partnered with Chawton House Library in 1999 and together delivered a vibrant academic programme including lectures, talks and conferences that shaped an academic community. Friday’s events is a celebration of this partnership and the important works that resulted from research in the Library.
|4-4.30pm||Tea & Coffee on arrival||The Great Hall|
|4.30-6pm||Life in the Library
Join our three eminent speakers as they reflect on their respective times spent at Chawton House and present its impact as an institution of research:
|The Great Hall|
Soak up the atmosphere of the historic settings with drink in hand, following a stimulating session of talks.
In partnership with the University of Southampton, we are delighted to be able to offer free tickets to this event, including tea and coffee on arrival, the talks, and a drink of your choice afterwards. Booking is essential, and these tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Saturday 15 July – Finding Inspiration
Chawton House is a place that has inspired countless visitors from students, artists and craftspeople to renowned writers including Jane Austen. Saturday’s is a celebration of Chawton House’s inspirational impact, reflecting on its historical impact and looking ahead to a new generation of creatives.
|11am-12.30pm||Writing historical fiction
Led by Dr Clio O’Sullivan, delve into the art of research, character development, and vivid storytelling in this creative writing workshop. Discover the hidden gems of Chawton House, where Jane Austen herself found inspiration, as you immerse yourself in an atmosphere that breathes life into the past.
£15 per person, includes House & Gardens admission and tea, coffee and biscuits.
|The Billiards Room|
|2-3.15pm||Curator’s tour of ‘Quills and Characters’
Join Deputy Director Dr Kim Simpson on a curator’s tour of Chawton House’s major exhibition, ‘Quills & Characters’. Explore the art of letter-writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, moving from the practical – how to cut pens and make ink – to uncovering the stories told by the letters in the Chawton House collection. Uncover women’s experiences of science and scholarship, writing and reading, and love and scandal, and retrace the connections they made with each other through the act of writing.
From £6 per person
|4-5pm||Godmersham Park: Inspiring Treasures from the collection
Did you know, snail milk was a real medical recipe?! See the Knight family copy, alongside other unique library treasures, including Anne Sharp’s copy of Jane Austen’s novel, ‘Emma’ that inspired elements in Gill Hornby’s bestselling novel ‘Godmersham Park’.
From £6 per person
Explore the stunning Walled Garden, stroll through the shady Wilderness, or just find a perfect spot on the South Lawn where you can just sit back and enjoy the picturesque surroundings. Pick up your choice of either a cocktail or mocktail from the Old Kitchen Tearoom and enjoy a summer evening in the beautiful gardens at Chawton House.
Free with annual ticket & neighbourhood pass (drinks purchased separately)
|7-8.30pm||Inspired by Chawton House: An Evening with Gill Hornby
Join Gill Hornby, bestselling author of ‘Miss Austen’ (2020) and ‘Godmersham Park’ (2022), for a fascinating evening as she discusses a writer’s journey into the world of historical places as a source of inspiration. Drawing from her own experiences and extensive research, Gill will share her insights into how historical sites, like Chawton House ignite the imaginations of authors and bring their stories to life. Discover the secrets and hidden tales behind these extraordinary places and gain a deeper understanding of how they shape literary masterpieces, including Jane Austen’s novels.
£15 per person
|The Great Hall|
Sunday 16 July – Celebrating the History
Over the last two decades, Chawton House has become a beloved site for visitors, academics and an international audience online. For centuries before, it was home to the Knight and Austen families. Sunday celebrates the history of the House, grounds and the people who lived there with talks, tours and traditional garden games.
|Throughout the day||Traditional garden games on the lawn
Jeremy Knight grew up at Chawton House and now volunteers at both Chawton House and Jane Austen’s House. He has crafted a series of traditional garden games for all the family to enjoy.
Also included in admission, a range of kids activities: choose from a selection of trails to keep the little ones occupied in the gardens and parkland.
Want to pen your very own eighteenth-century letter? Enter our writing room where we will provide you goose feather quills, parchment, ink and seals, along with instructions on contents, address, signing off and folding. Take the letter with you as a keepsake or leave it behind for other visitors to take inspiration from!
Included in general admission price.
|The South Lawn|
|Historic Garden Tour
Head Gardener Julia Weaver gives a guided tour of the historic grounds, taking in features such as the Wilderness, Lutyens’ designed terrace and Walled Garden mentioned in Jane Austen’s letters.
From £6 per person
|1.30-2.30pm||The Knight Family: A History
Using objects from the Knight family collection, House Historian Martin Caddick leads visitors through the history of the Chawton estate. A deep dive into the people who lived here and their impact.
Free with annual ticket & neighbourhood pass
|The Dining Room|
|3-4pm||Director’s tour of Chawton House
Explore the fascinating four-hundred-year history of Chawton House on this exclusive tour, led by Director of Chawton House, Katie Childs.
From £6 per person
We look forward to welcoming you to Chawton House and celebrating our 20th Anniversary!