January 19th 2016

'It was a sweet view—sweet to the eye and the mind. British verdure, British culture, British comfort, seen under a sun bright, without being oppressive.' Jane Austen

Jane Austen put this comment in the voice of her narrator in Emma, published 200 years ago.

The author spent most of her life in the historic and beautiful county of Hampshire and there is no doubt that its houses, countryside and people provided the inspiration for many of her novels.

To discover Jane Austen’s England with The Wayfarers is to see the places – hopefully under that bright British sun! - that meant so much to her.

2017 will mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and Hampshire Cultural Trust is working with Jane Austen’s House Museum and many other partners to celebrate Jane’s creativity and talent. Jane Austen 200 has just been launched and special exhibitions, talks, walks and performances are planned as the anniversary year approaches.

On our Walk we visit the peaceful village of Steventon where Jane Austen was born and brought up and where her father was the local vicar.

Austen spent the last eight years of her life at Chawton, and it was here, in the red brick cottage where she lived with her mother and sister that she revised her earlier works for publication, and wrote Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. The cottage is now a museum of Austen's life and work, home to family portraits, manuscripts, and the table at which she wrote some of her most famous work.

A short walk up the road from the museum is the very much grander Chawton House, which once belonged to Jane’s brother – and we eat a private dinner here, admiring the gracious rooms where Jane Austen was often a visitor.

In 1817, Austen became ill, and was persuaded to travel to the ancient city of Winchester to be close to her doctor; she stayed in a house in College Street (now marked with a plaque), and died there just a few days later on July 18, 1817, aged 41.

She was buried in the north aisle of Winchester’s magnificent cathedral. And in Winchester we will, appropriately, receive the 'Wayfarers’ Dole' at a medieval almshouse.

Our Walk also takes us on riverside strolls, across beech-clad chalk hills and we ride a steam train on a restored heritage line, alighting for lunch at an old coaching inn.

A Regency clothing expert will also give us a pre-dinner talk on ladies’s costumes and the secrets of corsetry!

Make this the year you explore Jane Austen Country – find out more here.

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