This tour begins and ends in London.
Day 1 Monday
We depart our London meeting point at approximately 09:00, our destination being Hampshire, ‘Jane Austen Country.’ We will travel to our first village of interest, Steventon, where Jane Austen spent her first 25 years. We will explore the small parish church where her father was a clergyman including the churchyard where her brother and his family lie. This quiet, peaceful place is like stepping back in time.
The Tudor manor house The Vyne, visited by King Henry VIII on at least 3 occasions, is also on the day’s agenda. The house is filled with an eclectic mix of fine furniture, portraits, textiles and sculpture. The attractive gardens feature an ornamental lake, woodlands and flourishing wetlands, a haven for wildlife and water fowl. This was the home of the Chute family, friends of the Austens, and Jane and her sister often visited for dances and to play cards. The dances held here would have been intimate affairs, ones of great contrast to the lavish balls Jane would later attend in Bath. We can see the portrait of the Chute’s adoptive daughter Caroline, said to be the inspiration for Fanny Price of Mansfield Park.
Next, Jane’s home at Chawton, now open as a museum. It was in this quaint village that she spent the majority of her later years and where she wrote or completed most of her most famous works, Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice amongst others. Once inside the house, we are in her world. We’ll also enjoy the village itself and the cottage gardens that Jane and her sister lovingly tended.
Our accommodation for the next two nights, subject to availability, is an Edwardian manor house set in 12 acres of beautiful gardens between Winchester and the coastal town of Southampton.
NIGHTSTOP: Chilworth area, Hampshire. PROPERTY: Chilworth Manor or similar, http://www.bw-chilworthmanor.co.uk/
Day 2 Tuesday
Today we’ll explore the ancient Saxon capital of Winchester. Our time here will include a guided walk around the city, seeing the cathedral where Jane Austen is buried, one of England’s most famous public schools and the place Jane last called home, where she passed away in 1817.
We’ll also enjoy touring around the seaport of Southampton, where Jane Austen lived for 2 years following the death of her father. We’ll explore the ancient city walls, said to be a favorite walking spot for Jane, and a few local landmarks well known to her. It is thought that the Portsmouth scenes in Mansfield Park are modeled after her experience of local life in Southampton. Nearby, as time permits, we’ll visit a place or two enjoyed by Jane and her family as short getaways from the city – such as the abbey that inspired Northanger Abbey.
NIGHT STOP: Hampshire, as above
Day 3 Wednesday
During our day, we’ll visit in iconic Salisbury. Here we can pay our respects inside the stunning gothic cathedral and see one of the greatest pieces of writing, the Magna Carta.
Wilton House is a great choice on our theme and truly one of the country’s treasure houses. Here, experience nearly 500 years of history as you wander through its magnificent rooms, marvel at its architecture, soak in its fine paintings and spectacular gardens. Wilton House is often used as a location for period films thanks to its sumptuous interiors. Fans may recognize some rooms as “Pemberley” from the 2005 Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice. The ‘double cube room’ is particularly popular, also appearing in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lydon, Madness of King George, Judi Dench favorite Mrs Brown and most recently in Young Victoria.
This afternoon, we will make our way to Bath, the city of Georgian splendor and Roman antiquity. Upon arrival, your guide will be on hand for an orientation walking tour of Jane Austen’s city. This place was enjoyed by the social set of the 18th and 19th centuries, a setting for Jane Austen amongst many other writers; Austen fans will immediately recognize several streets and squares from her novels such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. You can also see places where the author herself lived. During our stay, you’ll have free time so you can explore Bath as you please. We highly recommend time in the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms, the Jane Austen Centre or you could simply wander the lovely tea rooms and antique shops – the choice is yours!
Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.
Subject to availability, our Bath accommodation is a Georgian townhouse with a re-created Regency garden opened exclusively for guests. These gardens were inspired by the writings of Jane Austen and, along with meticulous historical research, all plantings were specifically chosen as ones that Jane or one of her characters would have enjoyed.
NIGHT STOP: Bath. PROPERTY: The Kennard, Sir Walter Elliot House or similar,
Day 4 Thursday
A big day spent in lovely countryside today, far from the madding crowd. Our journey will take us through areas well known to Thomas Hardy. The counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorsetshire are ones where time literally seems to have stood still since the days of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy.
Lyme Regis is sure to be one highlight, a popular sea spa town and the site of many Austen family holidays. The town looks much as it did when Jane spent time here, and sites from Persuasion are recognizable.
Also today, Stourhead Gardens, featuring one of the world’s finest 18th Century landscape gardens including a magnificent lake, classical temples, enchanting grottos plus rare and exotic trees. The Temple of Apollo here was featured in a memorable scene between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and should be recognizable to fans.
NIGHT STOP: Bath, as above
Day 5 Friday
This morning, some free time to linger in the splendors of Bath. Those guests continuing as part of A ‘Week’ with Jane Austen tour to the Heart of England have the full day to explore Bath as you wish, seeing Lacock tomorrow morning.
Early afternoon, guests returning to London will make their way to the medieval village of Lacock, which has hardly changed in the past 200 years. With its magnificent abbey, half timbered cottages and greystone houses, it provides a perfect setting. This lovely place, where TV ariels, telephone wires and advertising are banned, has been used as a film set for many popular films such as the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle production of Pride and Prejudice, the BBC series of Cranford and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Jane Austen attended school at the Reading Ladies Boarding School in the Thames Valley, an area set amidst unforgettable countryside that surely would have contributed to her development as a writer, an area that you will be passing through en-route back to London.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to unforeseen changes in opening days or times.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.