I doubt Jane Austen would have imagined the novels she anonymously wrote in the late 18th and early 19th centuries would still be read and studied 200 years after her death. Like many, I was introduced to Austen at school. Since then her witty books have permeated through my life in various guises: from the original works to popular TV series (who can forget a sodden Colin Firth emerging from a lake in Pride and Prejudice) to modern adaptations such as Clueless and books influenced by her writing like Bridget Jones.

But what made the great author tick? What inspired her? Some of answers lie in the various places she lived and wrote in the UK. With VisitEngland celebrating 2017 as the year of literary heroes and the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death, I have compiled some of the special events and places to visit to get your Jane Austen fix. Ideal for long-established Austen fans as well as younger ones studying her works and even those who have yet to appreciate her written word.

Hampshire

Born in Steventon near Basingstoke, Jane Austen lived in her father’s rectory during her formative years and spent most of her life in Hampshire. Every year the county celebrates the great author with Jane Austen Regency Week, a nine-day festival in June. It forms part of this year’s Jane Austen 200 events. Be transported back in time with the annual Alton Regency Day. Dressing in costume is encouraged at the family-friendly free event on 17 June.

East Hampshire Jane Austen Regency Week
Regency Day in East Hampshire

Other events include guided tours of Chawton and Alton, talks from experts about the novelist and Austen’s most famous character, Mr Darcy. You can listen to Regency music as well as learn some moves at the Regency dance workshop. They would certainly come in handy for the Alton Regency ball. Yes, really! Check out the Regency Week website for more information.

Jane would often visit the town of Basingstoke to shop – and dance. From June – September a free art trail has been set up, entitled Sitting with Jane. Local artists have created 24 unique Jane Austen-inspired benches to link the trail locations together and explain more about the author’s little-known association with the town.

Brighton

Austen often visited Brighton and mentions it with some distaste in Pride and Prejudice where Lydia Bennett flees with her lover George Wickham. As part of the bicentenary of her death, the Brighton Pavilion is putting on a special exhibitJane Austen By The Sea, looking at her relationship with coastal resorts and life in Brighton. Austen dedicated Emma to George IV in 1815 when he was Prince Regent as he was a big fan of her work. The King’s personal, specially-bound copy of the book will also be on display.

Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Bath

In 1801 Jane and her family moved to Bath and it’s here she wrote Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. A starting point for Austen’s time in Bath is the Jane Austen Centre which explores how Bath impacted on her life. There are clothes you can dress up in and you can learn more about 18-century manners such as the language of the fan! Complete with Regency tea rooms, it was one of my must-see places when I visited Bath in 2011.

Jane Austen Centre, Bath

Jane Austen Centre, Bath

During her time in the city, Austen visited the Bath Assembly Rooms on a number of occasions and it gets a mention in both the novels she wrote there. Step back in time at the Georgian venue and admire its huge ballroom. The space is free to enter and also houses the Fashion Museum where visitors young and old can dress up in Georgian costumes.

Austen lived at four houses in Bath but the majority of her time was spent on Sydney Street which is now a B&B. Bath is also having its own Jane Austen Festival in September. The 10-day celebration from 8th -18th September includes a costumed ball and charity promenade.

Three women in period costume at the Jane Austen Festival

Southampton

Jane Austen spent three periods of her life in Southampton: as a schoolgirl, young woman and her family lived there for two years with her brother, Frank, before settling at Chawton. There’s a heritage trail you can take and a Jane Austen festival taking place at the end of September.

Chawton

Following the death of Austen’s father in 1805, the family struggled financially. After a stint in Bath and Southampton, they eventually settled in Chawton. The house where Austen spent the last eight years of her life is now a museum dedicated to the author.

Jane Austen House Museum, Chawton, Hampshire

At the Jane Austen’s House Museum you can explore the cottage and garden and imagine what life was like for the author. It also has a purpose-built Learning Centre with interactive exhibits which are fun for all the family. Her brother, Edward, lived in a nearby Elizabethan manor house which is now Chawton Library and can be explored with plenty of activities for younger children. A special exhibition about Austen is taking place between June and October.

Winchester

Despite suffering with ill health Austen continued to be active and write. But in May 1817, two of her siblings, Cassandra and Henry, brought her to a doctor in Winchester for treatment. She died on 18th July 1817, aged 41. Recent evidence suggests she may have died from lymphoma, a blood cancer. Her funeral took place at Winchester Cathedral and she is buried in the north aisle of the nave. As part of Jane Austen 200, the cathedral is putting on special events including guided tours and a special Evensong service on the 200th anniversary of her death.

Winchester Cathedral

Jane Austen on film

If you are a fan of the TV and film adaptations of Austen’s work then you may fancy checking out some of the key filming locations. Take a walking trail around Lyme Park in Cheshire where Pride and Prejudice was filmed including the infamous wet shirt scene which propelled Colin Firth into sex symbol status.

The 16th Century manor house at Lyme Park

For the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly, Basildon Park in Berkshire was used for Mr Bingley’s home, Netherfield. Claydon House in Buckinghamshire was the setting of Emma starring Gwenyth Paltrow while Saltram House in Plymouth was used for Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility. You can view letters the Austen exchanged with Frances, the first countess, there. The National Trust properties have beautiful grounds which are perfect to explore with children.

Chatsworth House, Peak District C.
Chatsworth House, Peak District (Picture Courtesy: VisitEngland)

Although not used in the filming, Jane Austen stayed at the magnificent Chatsworth House in Derbyshire while writing Pride and Prejudice and it is believed to be the inspiration behind Pemberley, Mr Darcy’s estate. She also drew inspiration from Stoneleigh Abbey which was the home of her maternal relatives. See where she got ideas for the setting of books such as Mansfield Park in a special Jane Austen tour.

Check out the Jane Austen 200 website for further events and exhibits happening around the UK in 2017 and the VisitEngland website for more literary inspired trips.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Have you visited any of these locations or fancy checking them out?

*Disclosure: I am working with VisitEngland as part of the Year of Literary Heroes, looking at the best travel across the country for those who love books. Check out the #bookengland tag to discover more and share your experiences.

** Pictures courtesy of Wander Mum, VisitEngland and Pixabay



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Must-See Uk Destinations for Jane Austen fans

73 Comments on Must-See UK Destinations For Jane Austen Fans

  1. Lolo
    March 28, 2017 at 7:28 am (5 months ago)

    I didn’t like her books in high school, but I recently had to reread Pride & Prejudice and now I LOVE it! I want to read the rest of her books now! Saving this! #CityTripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      March 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm (5 months ago)

      So glad you rediscovered P&P. They really are classics. Enjoy reading!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      March 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm (5 months ago)

      Oh wow! How fun. I’m looking forward to exploring Chatsworth at some point.

      Reply
  2. Wherejogoes
    March 28, 2017 at 8:03 am (5 months ago)

    Really enjoyed reading this. My grandparents lived in Alton and we would often pop over to Chawton to Jane Austen’s house, there was a great tea shop there too! Now I live near Bath so I seem to be following Jane’s footsteps around the country. They have a great Jane Austen selection at the British Library too. Pride and Prejudice will always be my fave! Thanks for hosting and thanks for putting Alton on the map! #CityTripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:17 am (5 months ago)

      Thanks Jo! How wonderful to have been able to stay so close to where Jane grew up…you certainly seem to be following in her footsteps!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:18 am (5 months ago)

      You should…and definitely get reading and watching some more Austen. So much more beyond P&P!

      Reply
  3. Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad
    March 28, 2017 at 9:16 am (5 months ago)

    I like most of Jane Austen’s works and would love to visit all of the mentioned places. 🙂 #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:18 am (5 months ago)

      I really hope you do!

      Reply
  4. Suzy McCullough
    March 28, 2017 at 9:20 am (5 months ago)

    How lovely. Britain is such a historically beautiful place. Such an interesting way to look upon these places through their links to Jane Austen. I have been to Bath and I can see why she wanted to stay at Chatsworth. I grew up in Derbyshire.

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:19 am (5 months ago)

      Oh fantastic. I really need to visit Chatsworth!

      Reply
  5. Phoebe | Lou Messugo
    March 28, 2017 at 9:57 am (5 months ago)

    I LOVE this post Elizabeth, I’m such a Jane Austen fan, but never realised she died so young. What a tragedy, imagine how many more books she could have written had she lived to a ripe old age. I love your first photo with the girls in Regency dress in the forefront and a man on a mobility scooter in the background, such a contrast! #citytripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:23 am (5 months ago)

      Haha! I had to take another look at that photo! So glad you like the post. Really sad she died so young but amazing that she produced such quality writing in her relatively short life. She certainly made her mark in history.

      Reply
  6. Nicola
    March 28, 2017 at 10:05 am (5 months ago)

    Will have to check these out! Love all the dressing up photos 🙂

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:23 am (5 months ago)

      Aren’t they great!

      Reply
  7. Alice Thompson
    March 28, 2017 at 10:41 am (5 months ago)

    What a lovely selection – just watched Emma on Netflix with my 7 year old who totally adored it, particularly the dresses 🙂

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:25 am (5 months ago)

      Oh how great! The dresses are fab.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:25 am (5 months ago)

      How fab! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:25 am (5 months ago)

      It’s so fascinating to see the inspiration.

      Reply
  8. Baby Loves Travel
    March 28, 2017 at 12:39 pm (5 months ago)

    I really did not enjoy Sense and Sensibility when I studied it for A Levels. Maybe I should revisit as an adult! Anyway, there are some great places to visit her, whether you are a fan or not #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:27 am (5 months ago)

      Haha, I think it’s hard to love a book you study and pick apart for two years! I feel the same about Mansfield Park! Definitely need to revisit some of her work.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:28 am (5 months ago)

      Hehe, definitely!

      Reply
  9. Christine | The Journey of Christine
    March 28, 2017 at 2:31 pm (5 months ago)

    I have a friend that is a crazy Jane Austen and she would love this post! I’m not really a fan but I’m a fan of cute charming UK towns! 🙂

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:29 am (5 months ago)

      We’ve got plenty of them !

      Reply
  10. Corey @ fifi + hop
    March 28, 2017 at 5:50 pm (5 months ago)

    Oh I would love to see all these places. I’m a Jane Austen fan though must admit it’s been years since I’ve read the books..the movies, however, I’ve seen them all! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:31 am (5 months ago)

      I need to revisit a few of her novels too!

      Reply
  11. alex
    March 28, 2017 at 6:40 pm (5 months ago)

    Phew, she got about a bit didn’t she! And all in quite a short existence too, what a shame she died so young. Americans are going to love all of these events – they will devour this post! (that may be a generalisation but all my stateside friends are absolutely obsessed with period England and I know they would love this kind of thing! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:30 am (5 months ago)

      Haha! Please pass it onto them
      Alex…generalisation or not. X

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:32 am (5 months ago)

      That is funny! Very appropriate. The adaptations are so fundamental in translating the books, and on an international scale.

      Reply
  12. Kat
    March 28, 2017 at 8:10 pm (5 months ago)

    I wish I’d known this years ago! I could have gone to Regency Week, it looks so awesome. I’ve only been to Bath for Jane Austen sight seeing. Thanks for sharing! #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:38 am (5 months ago)

      You’re welcome!

      Reply
  13. Tracy
    March 28, 2017 at 9:14 pm (5 months ago)

    We visited her grave in Winchester last year and I am very interested in visiting some of the other places – I will definitely seek out the museum in Bath! I love the Brighton Pavilion and need no excuse to visit that again (isn’t it just outrageously over-the-top (LOVE IT!!) so will try to see that exhibition too! #citytripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:40 am (5 months ago)

      Brighton Pavilion is a crazy building! I remember being mesmerised when I first saw it. Looking forward to visiting and seeing the exhibition.

      Reply
  14. Mandy
    March 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm (5 months ago)

    I wasn’t really a fan of Jane Austen when I had to read Pride and Prejudice, but one day I’d like to try and read one of her novels again. Any suggestions that aren’t P&P?

    Love all of your recs for places to visit! I love that there is a holiday for dressing in period costume! 🙂
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 8, 2017 at 3:01 pm (5 months ago)

      Thank you Mandy! I really enjoyed reading Sense and Sensibility. Emma is good too!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 8, 2017 at 3:03 pm (5 months ago)

      Hehe! I love that image Catherine.

      Reply
  15. Katy
    March 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm (5 months ago)

    I did a Jane Austen road trip of some of these sights with a friend (and fellow Jane obsessive) last year. We had such a lot of fun imagining ourselves in Regency dresses swishing around the countryside. In fact you can play dress ups at the Jane Austen House museum- get your bonnet on! #CityTripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      March 28, 2017 at 10:41 pm (5 months ago)

      Oh how fab Katy! I must do the same with my Austen obsessed friend. Sounds like fun! X

      Reply
  16. Elizabeth Newcamp
    March 28, 2017 at 10:10 pm (5 months ago)

    I love Jane Austen! I feel quite inspired now to pick up a book and read some more. I need to make our next UK trip a Jane Austen inspired trip. Thanks for the inspiration. #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      March 28, 2017 at 10:55 pm (5 months ago)

      Aww glad to have provided some inspiration.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:38 am (5 months ago)

      I know, it would be so fun.

      Reply
  17. Bryna | Dotted Line Travels
    March 29, 2017 at 3:54 am (5 months ago)

    I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, and would love to do and see all these things! Especially Alton Regency Day (which sounds amazing!) and I’ve always wanted to see Lyme Park. The BBC series of Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite things ever!
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:37 am (5 months ago)

      Fantastic. Hope you get to visit and do some of these events!

      Reply
  18. Kat
    March 29, 2017 at 6:33 am (5 months ago)

    I was a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice even before the TV series was filmed. I remembered when the BBC series of P&P was released, my girlfriends and I borrowed the videos, watched the series over a period of 2 days – we did nothing but fell in love with Colin Firth (be still, my beating heart)and ate lots of junk food and ice-cream. Sigh, those were the days hahah…love your post, Liz! #Citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm (5 months ago)

      Awww I love that memory! Not dissimilar to my own experience!. Those were the days! Glad to bring it back.

      Reply
  19. Jen from Jenography.net
    March 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm (5 months ago)

    Fantastic guide for Jane Austen fans…or anyone who wants to experience these lovely parts of England. #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:37 am (5 months ago)

      Thanks Jen! We’re got some great places here in the UK.

      Reply
  20. Brooke of Passport Couture
    March 30, 2017 at 4:00 am (5 months ago)

    Fascinating to learn so much about Jane Austen! I didn’t know she died at such a young age. I enjoyed traveling to these different destinations of inspiration via your post. Thanks for sharing! #citytripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:36 am (5 months ago)

      Thanks! So sad she died so young!

      Reply
  21. Jenni
    March 30, 2017 at 9:25 pm (5 months ago)

    I’m a huge Jane Austen fan – now I really want to do a road trip!

    Reply
  22. Cindy
    March 31, 2017 at 3:26 pm (5 months ago)

    Great post! Love the inspiration here for Jane Austin fans – and a great round-up of lovely places to visit! #CityTripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:33 am (5 months ago)

      Thank you Cindy!

      Reply
  23. Wilbur
    April 1, 2017 at 12:00 am (5 months ago)

    Seems that she only ever visited nice places! Our literary history must be the envy of god world. Nice post. Wilbur #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 3, 2017 at 1:32 am (5 months ago)

      Thank you Wilbur!

      Reply
  24. Wilbur
    April 1, 2017 at 12:02 am (5 months ago)

    Seems that she only ever visited nice places! Our literary history must be the envy of the world. Nice post. Wilbur #citytripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 8, 2017 at 11:23 am (5 months ago)

      Thanks Wilbur. We definitely have a rich and unique literary history.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 8, 2017 at 11:25 am (5 months ago)

      She certainly stayed in some inspiring places!

      Reply
  25. Cassandra @ Arter
    April 5, 2017 at 8:59 am (5 months ago)

    I’m a big Jane Austin fun. Fantastic places, I really want to go to visit these places. Nice post, thank you.

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 8, 2017 at 11:23 am (5 months ago)

      Great! Hope you get to go soon

      Reply
  26. Elaine
    April 5, 2017 at 12:21 pm (5 months ago)

    You have a point, places are beautiful! I’m not a fan of Jane Austen but I’d like to go there. Photos are great!

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      April 8, 2017 at 11:22 am (5 months ago)

      Thank you so much Elaine.

      Reply

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