Now here is an interesting article from my paper this morning.
For only £450,000, you can purchase Pond Cottage, which is next door to the house that Jane Austen lived in for eight years.
If you are a true Janeite, and I know there are many hundreds of thousands of you out there, myself included, this must seem like a dream come true. To live this close to the property where Jane created many of the characters we all love so much? Such opportunities are few and far between, so who would not be interested and excited at such a fair prospect?
Well, lets look a little closer.
Yes, to live adjacent to the house of your idol could be rewarding, magical, and certainly inspiring for a true JA fan.
BUT, lets not forget that the actual house that Jane lived in with her sister Cassandra and her mother, (also Cassandra) is now a museum, dedicated to her life, her works and the regency way living.
I have visited the museum myself a few times and thoroughly enjoyed it. But visiting and living next door to are two very different things.
The Jane Austen House Museum, (https://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk/) attracts upwards of 100,000 visitors every year from all corners of the world.
From China to Alaska, and New Zealand to Norway. The pull for Jane Austen fans to visit the place where Jane lived and dreamt up Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet is a magnet of astronomical proportions.
And rightly so. Jane is, in my humble opinion, the worlds greatest female author. Who knows what other delights she might have regaled us with had she lived beyond her 41 years.
And lets not forget that a mere half a mile up the road is the world renown Chawton Library, (https://chawtonhouse.org/).
This was Edward Austen Knights house, and somewhere Jane would visited often. It was owned and lived in by Edwards descendants right up until 1992 when it was sold. This is also another hugely popular tourist spot for visiting Janeites.
So, with this number of visitors in mind as they hit the Jane trail, the additional traffic through the small and yet still surprisingly quaint village, finding somewhere to park, the noise from said visitors, the constant taking of selfies and panoramic pictures, makes me ask; would you actually be able to enjoy your country idyll?
My answer would be this;
If you are a true Jane fan, then a resounding YES!.
There would be countless opportunities to join in with the enthusiastic visitors, or you could volunteer at the museum. You would need to offer no excuse to dress up and wear your very best regency clothes, (yes I have them too) or maybe you could open a tea room.
There might also be a steady trade if you invested in a regency clothes shop or perhaps a photographic studio where you could take memorable pictures of men, women and even children in period clothes from a dressing up wardrobe. There is a wealth of opportunity if you have a mind to act upon it.
However, if Jane is not your cup of tea, then steer clear of Chawton village altogether, especially in June when the nearby town of Alton hold a week long festival celebrating everything Regency.
And also in December, when people flock to visit the museum on Janes birthday, (16th December 1775).
If I had the resources and was perhaps 20 years younger, I would be putting in an offer tomorrow.
Love as always
Link to Hampton International